February 19, 2016 – News Releases
|19 Feb 2016|
|President Aquino says job opportunities for Filipinos increasing|
|(LOS ANGELES, California) With the growing Philippine economy, President Benigno S. Aquino III assured the Filipinos here that the government is capable of providing them employment if they wish to return to the country.
President Aquino spoke before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila). After his speech, the President fielded questions from the audience on issues ranging from South China Sea to local jobs situation.
“Well, the only guarantee I can give you is an opportunity that is increasing. The numbers speak for themselves. We are at our lowest unemployment figure,” the President said when asked about jobs and opportunities available for Filipinos.
“Overseas foreign workers, when I started out were pegged at about 10 million of our countrymen. The number now at the height point is about 9.4 million. They didn’t disappear, they went back home or a lot of them did come back home,” he said.
President Aquino assured the Filipinos of employment opportunities once in the Philippines, citing as example the Arab Spring in 2011.
“Even at the height of the Arab Spring in 2011, we were just starting out, engineers from Libya and quite a large number of them actually had jobs already waiting for them by the time they landed in Manila,” he said.
“The economy definitely is growing, there are so many opportunities,” the President added.
President Aquino cited two major foreign companies, one Japanese and the other American, that wanted to expand their businesses in the country by putting up a research and development center.
The President also mentioned the training courses being offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for returning Filipinos to enhance their skills and help them find jobs.
President Aquino was in Los Angeles for a working visit from February 16 to 17 following his participation in the US-ASEAN Leaders Summit hosted by US President Barack Obama with Southeast Asian leaders. PND (co)
|President Aquino trumpets administration’s gains before Filipino community in Los Angeles, California|
|(LOS ANGELES, California) President Benigno Aquino III trumpeted the gains achieved under his administration as he faced the Filipino community here on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
In his speech, the President shared to his “bosses” in California, which is home to more than a million Filipinos, the significant improvements happening in the Philippines through his “tuwid na daan” policy particularly in economy, anti-corruption drive, social welfare programs, health and education system.
Aquino said in his more than five years in office, he has taken steps to fight corruption by sending corrupt officials, including his predecessor, to prison.
“Talaga pong pinangatawanan natin ang sinabi nating “walang corrupt”. Dahil natigil po o nabawasan ng malaki ang pagwawaldas, ang layo ng kakayahan ng gobyernong magbigay ng oportunidad sa ating mga kababayan,” he said as he spoke before the members of the Filipino community here.
He boasted the gains of the administration’s conditional cash transfer program called Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which household beneficiaries have ballooned from 780,000 to 4.4 billion.
The President revealed that this figure might increase to 4.6 million before he steps down from office in June.
He noted that the 4Ps program has lifted around 7.7 million individuals above the poverty line.
On education, the Chief Executive updated Filipinos in California about the recently implemented K to 12 program of the Department of Education (DepEd), which extended the basic education system by two years.
“Ang Pilipinas kasi kung naalala niyo ‘yung sinabi ko sa inyo noong araw, isa na lang sa tatlong bansa sa buong mundo na may 10-year basic education cycle. Ngayon po lumipat na tayo sa 12 –year basic education cycle para mapagbigyan naman lahat ng kabataan natin na matuto,” he said.
He likewise shared the improvements in classroom buildings wherein he noted that the DepEd was able to surpass its target.
From its initial target of building 66,800 classrooms, DepEd has vowed to complete its construction and repair of 185,149 classrooms by June, said Aquino.
On health, Aquino touted his administration’s efforts to achieve universal health care through a massive expansion PhilHealth coverage to all Filipinos belonging to the marginalized sector.
“Ngayon po, nasa 91 percent na ang PhilHealth beneficiaries. At ito pa nga po: lahat ng kabilang sa pinakamahirap nating kababayan, iyong tinatawag na two quintiles or 40 percent of our population, libre na ang pagpapagamot sa mga pampublikong ospital sa pamamagitan ng no-balance billing na programa po ng PhilHealth,” he said.
On economy, the President reiterated how the gains of his administration have transformed the Philippines into “Asia’s Rising Tiger” and “Asia’s Bright Spot” from being the “Sick Man of Asia.”
“Natamasa natin ang pinakamabilis na six-year economic growth mula noong dekada sitenta, at ang growth nga po natin nitong past six years… ang average ay 6.2 GDP growth,” he said.
He also related improvements in government’s disaster response and in building “more resilient” communities.
The President called on the Filipino community to continue the reforms he has started by choosing the right leaders in the 2016 elections.
“Mga Boss, nagsimula po tayo hindi sa zero, alam niyo yan, nasa negative tayo. Ngayon po nasa very positive na tayo. Ang hamon po sa atin ngayon, kung paano masisigurong magsusunod-sunod at lalawak pa lalo ang mga tagumpay na nakamtan natin,” he said.
“Kung maghahalal po tayo ng hindi tama, kayo na ang mag-isip kung ano ang mangyayari sa atin? Pero kung maghalal naman po tayo ng tama, magpapatuloy ang tamang nangyayari sa atin,” he added PND (jb)
|President Aquino may grant pay hike for state workers after California trip|
|(LOS ANGELES, California) President Benigno Aquino III hinted of a huge possibility of signing an executive order (EO) granting a salary increase for government workers this week.
In an interview with reporters here on Tuesday, Aquino said he thought of signing the EO before embarking on his three-day working visit to California but failed to do so as it needed further tweaking.
“Sinubukan kong pirmahan ito ‘nung pag-alis. Ngayon, ibinalik ko na kay Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa at saka kay Butch Abad kasi meron dun ‘yung tinatawag na performance-based bonus at tapos meron ‘yung performance enhancement incentive. Iyong unang word kasi “performance”. Sabi ko aralin nga ninyo kung may isyu ito na dalawa ang bonus sa isang performance,” he said during his regular briefing with media covering his foreign trips.
The President said he is expecting the two officials to resolve the issues he has raised by Friday as he returns to Manila.
“I am hoping by Friday natapos na nila ang last question ko and I can sign it (EO) by Friday,” he said.
Aquino visited California as he attended the historic summit between leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and United States President Barack Obama at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.
He also had a one-day working visit to Los Angeles, California engaging in several meetings with potential foreign investors and meeting the Filipino community here.
President Aquino will arrive in Manila on Friday.
The Chief Executive noted that the basis of the EO would be the General Appropriations Act (GAA), which already includes the P58 billion funds for the first tranche of the proposed pay hike.
The EO, however, will not cover the remaining tranches for the planned four-year salary increase program for the bureaucracy.
“So iyong EO will put the intended increases in the salaries and allowances of government personnel except those na hindi kasali sa Salary Standardization. Parang ang GOCC ay exempted sa Salary Standardization,” he further explained.
In an earlier interview with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, he said he believed that Aquino would likely use his authority to effect the proposed Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL4), which failed to pass Senate due to an impasse on indexation of pension for retired military personnel.
President Aquino admitted that there might be a problem if pensions for 211,000 military and other uniformed personnel (MUP) retirees would be included in the EO.
He noted that the 2016 budget does not cover the Senate-backed indexation.
“Itong unang taon na ‘yung sweldo ng active personnel, tinataya kasi sa P39.5 billion for fiscal year 2016. Ang pension na walang indexation, …iyong kumbaga pension lang ang hindi inincrease (increase), P43 billion na para sa ating uniformed services. Mas mataas na ang ibinabayad natin sa pensyon,” he said.
“Siyempre ‘yung active naman sasabihin, ‘makatwiran ho ba ‘yan? Kami pa rin ang humaharap sa bala, sa pahamak at mas mababa ang sweldo namin, bakit ho ganun?’ So siyempre hihirit rin sila at medyo legitimate ito. Iyong sa SSL4, magdagdag pa tayo ng another 6.2 billion, kung hindi masususpend ‘yung indexation. So ang mangyayari niyan based on this table, 39 and a half salary ng active personnel, pension with SSL4 will cost us P49.2 billion; at palaki nang palaki ‘yan,” he added. PND (jb)
|President Aquino abolishes Philippine Veterans Assistance Commission, Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp.|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III has issued an order abolishing the Philippine Veterans Assistance Commission (PVAC) and the Philippine Veterans Investment Development Corp. (PHIVIDEC), transferring their functions to other agencies.The President issued Memorandum Order No. 87 last February 11 for the abolition of the PVAC and the PHIVIDEC, which will be undertaken by the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GCG), in coordination with the Department of National Defense (DND).
The PVAC’s function of providing services to veterans will be absorbed by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), while its commercial function will be given to the PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority (PIA).
The DND, PVAO and the Privatization and Management Office will undertake the disposition of PHIVIDEC assets.
The Department of Finance (DOF), on the other hand, will pay for the outstanding financial obligations of PVAC and PHIVIDEC from the proceeds of the assets sale based on government budgeting and auditing regulations.
The President’s memo also mandates the creation of the technical working group for the implementation of the order. This group will be composed of the DND, PVAO, PIA, DOF, Bureau of Treasury and PMO.
The PVAC, created by Presidential Decree 244, was mandated to draw, invest and manage private financial contributions for the employment, medical care and education of veterans and their dependents.
The PHIVIDEC meanwhile was established through Presidential Decree 243 for the purpose of formulating and executing policies for the full and continued employment of the productive capabilities and investment of military veterans and retirees.
However, the unabated losses sustained by PVAC and PHIVIDEC made them no longer financially viable.
The President said in the order that in line with Sections 6 and 8 of Executive Order 43 and the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, the abolition of the two government-owned entities will serve the best interest of the state to improve national productivity and reduce ineffective spending of government money. PND (as)
|President Aquino reports successful U.S. trip|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III reported a successful three-day visit to the United States that would improve the country’s diplomatic relations with other nations as well as boost its trade and investment.The President arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 7:05 a.m. on Friday from California after attending the US-ASEAN Special Leaders Summit and a working visit to Los Angeles.
In his arrival speech, the President said that the Special Leaders Summit with President Barack Obama covered such topics as innovation and digitalization and their benefits to economies.
“Sa larangan ng global pandemics at climate change, nagbahagi tayo ng ating karanasan, at idiniin natin ang kahandaang tumulong upang mapalawak ang kaalaman ng ating mga karatig-bansa,” he said.
With regards to the issue of maritime concerns in the South China Sea, the President said the Philippines’ position continues to gain support from the international community.
“Kung dati nga po ay iilan lang ang nagbabanggit ng isyung ito, ngayon, maliwanag sa inilabas na joint statement ng kapulungan ang paninindigan ng ASEAN at ng Estados Unidos: dapat panatalihin ang seguridad, stabilidad, at kalayaang maglakbay sa West Philippine Sea at South China Sea; at dapat idaan sa mapayapang proseso ang pagresolba ng anumang alitan, alinsunod sa international law,” the President said.
While in Los Angeles, the President said he met with several companies engaged in creative services, high technology manufacturing, and infrastructure.
Many of them showed interest in investing in the Philippines, he said, adding that the chairman of Walt Disney plans to visit the country this year, signifying his wish to help strengthen the country’s creative industry.
Western Digital, a computer hard drive manufacturer, also expressed its interest to expand its operations in the country, according to the President.
“Kinapanayam din po natin ang AECOM, na inaasahan nating magiging katuwang sa capacity-building ng ating mga kababayan pagdating sa imprastruktura,” he said.
The President also delivered a speech at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, where his father, the late senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., had a similar speaking engagement.
President Aquino was also presented an Honorary Degree in Humane Letters by the Loyola Marymount University, an honor that he said was not only for himself but for all Filipinos.
The President also met with the Filipino community in Los Angeles, asking their support for the continuity of his Daang Matuwid agenda.
Noting that this may well be his last foreign trip as Chief Executive, President Aqunio said, “Napakalaking karangalan nga pong maging kinatawan ng Pilipinas sa iba’t ibang pagpupulong—at ang idiin sa ating mga kausap ang panibagong sigla ng ating bansa, at ang kahandaan nating makiambag sa paghubog ng isang mundong payapa, mapagmalasakit, at tumatamasa ng malawakang kaunlaran.”
“Sa taas-noo nating pagharap sa kanila, damang-dama po natin ang respeto nila sa positibong transpormasyong naabot natin sa pagtahak sa Daang Matuwid. Tunay nga po: Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito.” PND (as)
|Palace reiterates country’s position regarding South China Sea dispute|
|Malacañang on Friday maintained that while the Philippines is not party to the recent issue of China’s deployment of missile batteries in the Paracel Islands, every claimant must respect the rule of law and must push for a rules-based approach in resolving the dispute in the South China Sea.When asked to confirm reports on China’s installation of surface-to-air missiles, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that previous reports have confirmed that the missiles were deployed in Woody Island in Paracel Islands, an area not covered by any of the country’s maritime entitlement claims.
“According to DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) Spokesperson Charles Jose, ang pangyayaring ito ay sa Woody Island na bahagi ng Paracels na hindi naman covered ng any of our maritime entitlement claims,” Secretary Coloma said during a media briefing at the Palace, noting that the country’s claims pertain to the Spratlys.
He however noted that the essence of the present issue is the observance of previously agreed rules, such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in 2002, which calls on claimants not to raise tension in the region.
This issue, he said, was also tackled during the recent special ASEAN-US Summit in California, which was attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
“Ito ay tinalakay ng mga pinuno ng ASEAN na nagkaisa sa kanilang joint statement sa pagsasabing ang dapat pairalin dito ay ang rules-based settlement of disputes,” he said.
“At batid naman ng mundo na nitong mga nakaraang taon ay lumutang ang iba’t ibang usapin hinggil sa mga maritime entitlements, at doon sa bahagi na tuwirang apektado ang Pilipinas, nagpasya tayo na idulog ito sa UN Arbitral Tribunal,” he added.
Coloma said that during the special ASEAN-US Summit, President Aquino called on other claimants, especially China, to respect whatever ruling the tribunal will issue.
This will give meaning to the concept of rules-based settlement of disputes among nations, he said.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea and recently built islands and other permanent structures in disputed territories.
The area is a major sea lane for trade and is believed to contain vast amounts of natural resources, including natural gas. PND (as)
|President Aquino signs order adjusting compensation of government workers|
|President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday signed Executive Order (EO) No. 201, adjusting the salaries of government personnel, both civilian and military.The EO is entitled “Modifying the Salary Schedule for Civilian Government Personnel and Authorizing the Grant of Additional Benefits for Both Civilian and Military and Uniformed Personnel”.
In a press briefing on Friday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the compensation adjustment strategy will ensure that the compensation structure of government personnel is comparable with the prevailing rates in the private sector.
He said the government expects to attract and retain competent and committed civil servants, so the existing Compensation and Position Classification System (CPCS) was revised or updated.
One of the provisions of the EO raises the minimum salary for Salary Grade I from the present P9,000 to P11,068 to make it even more competitive with market rates.
It also brings the compensation of government personnel closer to their private counterparts to at least 70 percent of the median of the market for all salary grades.
The adjustment also eliminates overlaps in between salary grade allocations of government personnel to recognize differences in duties and responsibilities of the position.
It maximizes the net take home pay of government personnel through the inclusion of additional benefits and strengthens the performance-based incentive system in recognition of government personnel who carry out exemplary performances.
For the military and uniformed personnel (MUP), the compensation adjustment strategy will be aligned with the objective of mitigating the fiscal crisis building up in their pension system and pursuing the pension reform.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. has recommended to President Aquino the issuance of an executive order that will adjust the compensation of government personnel, both civilian and military.
Executive Secretary Ochoa’s proposal was based on the memorandum by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the issuance of an executive order on the compensation adjustment for government personnel.
For civilian personnel, the EO adopted the same proposals in House Bill 6268 and Senate Bill 2671, providing for a mix of compensation adjustments to be implemented in four tranches over four years.
For the military, since the application of the pension indexation of military and uniformed personnel cannot be suspended through an administrative act, the DBM proposed to maintain the current base pay schedule of the MUP.
In lieu of an increase, there will be an increase in the existing hazard pay and the grant of new but temporary allowances.
These adjustments will approximate the additional renumeration had the base pay been increased, and will be an interim measure until such time that an appropriate pension reform measure is passed in Congress.
The salary adjustment will be retroactive January 1 this year, considering that the amount under the first tranche has already been provided in the 2016 national budget.
The proposed salary adjustment was the subject of House Bill 6268 and Senate Bill 2671 (Salary Standardization Law of 2015). Those bills however were never enacted during the Bicameral Conference Committee meeting last January 27 due to a deadlock.
The snag resulted from the conflicting provisions between the House version suspending the application of pension indexation of MUP and the Senate version proposing to delete the suspension.
Proponents of the House version argue that the indexation will cost an additional P121.78 billion from 2016 to 2019, which was not considered in the 2016 General Appropriations Act. PND (as)