07 January 2015

President Aquino receives credentials of new ambassadors
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday morning received the credentials of four Resident Ambassadors-Designate and three Non-Resident Ambassadors-Designate to the Philippines, at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace.

For Resident Ambassadors-Designate, first to present his letter of credence was Roberto Sebastian Bosh Estevez of the Republic of Argentina; followed by Rolando Guevara Alvarado of the Republic of Panama; Maria Cristina Theresia Derckx of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and Martinus Nicolass Slabber of the Republic of South Africa.

The presentation of credentials of Non-Resident Ambassadors-Designate to the Philippines was led by Niranjan Man Singh Basnyat of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal; followed by Daniel Owassa of the Republic of Congo; and Geoffrey Keating of the Republic of Ireland.

All ambassadors presented their respective staff after a brief chat with the President.

President Aquino meanwhile invited the envoys and their staff members to unwind and visit various areas in the country to discover why it is more fun in the Philippines. PND (ag)

Public cooperation needed to effectively combat HIV, says Palace
The government’s campaign against the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues but the public must cooperate for it to succeed, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

“Tuloy-tuloy ang ating campaign against HIV. We have always stated there are measures undertaken to ensure the prevention of HIV,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.

“Unfortunately, those who engage in certain activities, some of them don’t seem to follow the safe way of doing it. But hindi tayo nagkukulang sa kampanya against HIV.”

The Department of Health (DOH) has reported nearly 500 new cases of HIV infections documented in November 2014, two-thirds of whom were aged 15 to 24 and were mostly infected through sexual contact.

The DOH’s National Epidemiology Center recorded 492 new cases of HIV, including 40 cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), last November. Of the figure, 134 were aged 15 to 24. A total of 10 deaths were reported.

The department said the 492 cases were 28 percent higher than the 384 cases recorded in November 2013.

Sexual contact accounted for 464 cases, 250 of which were due to homosexual contact and 146 were due to bisexual contact, while sharing infected needles among drug users accounted for the remaining 28 cases.

Males having sex with other males was the predominant type of sexual transmission, accounting for 85 percent of the infections, the DOH noted.

Some 83 of the new HIV cases came from the National Capital Region, Region 4-A, Region 2 and Region 11, it said.

The new cases brought to 5,502 the number of cases since January last year, and to 22,018 since 1984.

Of the 22,018 cases, 2,011 have developed AIDS and 1,101 have died. PND (as)

Crackdown on national penitentiary was effective, says Palace official
The crackdown on the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) was effective, a Palace official said Wednesday.

“(Over the) short term, we were able to make sure that the (prison) VIPs’ lifestyles were checked. They should not be living as barons in the penitentiary. We have stopped that,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Lacierda noted that over the long term, the Department of Justice will institutionalize reforms to improve the prison’s management.

Authorities on December 15, 19 and 22 conducted a surprise inspection of the NBP’s Maximum Security Compound, where convicted drug lords and notorious robbery gang leaders were incarcerated.

The raid yielded firearms, cash, liquor, drugs, modern amenities such as a jacuzzi, sauna, bathtub, generator, split-type air-conditioning units, Wi-Fi devices, gaming console, private gym, even equipment found in recording studios.

Noting that the problem at the NBP lies in the system and the prison’s personnel, Lacierda said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has been addressing the problem by removing people allegedly involved in the smuggling of contraband.

“Senate can come in and perhaps introduce new policies towards improving the penal system,” he said. PND (ag)