30 Mar 2016

President Aquino urges print media industry to deliver the truth
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday underscored the importance of truthful reporting, during the opening of the Publish Asia 2016 Conference at the Manila Hotel.

In his speech before the participants of the two-day event organized by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the President emphasized the need to deliver the right information that will empower citizenries and nations.

“By far and large, you—the press—already have our people’s trust. This alone reflects the magnitude of your responsibility to wider society: to disseminate information, instead of speculation; to foster higher levels of discourse, instead of becoming a rumor mill; to empower citizenries and nations, instead of tearing them down. It is my deepest hope that you will never forget this—that, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere in the world, you live and work accordingly, with the greater good of the public in mind,” he said.

The Chief Executive noted that the job of journalists has become much more complicated due to the need to expand their operations to new media forms, which have their own limitations in terms of dissemination.

“At the same time, dissemination does not matter so much as your most basic responsibility, which is to deliver information—information that the people can trust, that can lead to fruitful discussions on issues of national and global importance, and that can even lead to positive transformation. This is the value and the service that you must provide,” he continued.

President Aquino also pointed out the danger of losing credibility in favor of sensational headlines and stories to boost sales.

“It is when the distinction between opinion and straightforward news-telling that your profession and there is a blurring of that line, it is then that your profession is endangered. This is not only a matter of principle; it is also about practicality,” he said.

Citing an example, he said that sensational headlines and articles might increase a publication’s circulation marginally but once readers notice this, they will seek out alternative sources of information.

The President further noted the role of the media in the May elections.

“Media, and perhaps especially print media, has a special role to play before, during, and after our elections—as it does at any critical time in even your own countries. We Filipinos will need a just, comprehensive accounting of this historic time, and you are in the best position to do that,” he said.

President of WAN-IFRA, Bangkok Post editor-in-chief Pichai Chuensuksawadi, delivered the welcome remarks.

The conference carries the theme, “Mapping Challenges and Opportunities in the New Asian Media Game”.

The WAN-IFRA, a global network of 3,000 news publishing companies and technology entrepreneurs, aims to defend and promote press freedom, clear the way to innovation and help independent news publishing companies to succeed in their transformation process, increase their business and perform their crucial role in open societies. PND (jm)

President Aquino seeks to foster untapped trade potential between Philippines, India
Amid the 94 percent market opening for Philippine products in India, President Benigno S. Aquino III said the country is seeking to explore the untapped trade potential between the two nations.

“There is huge potential, largely untapped, between India and the Philippines that we seek to tap at the soonest possible time for both our countries’ mutual benefits,” he said during the open forum of the Publish Asia 2016 Conference held at the Manila Hotel on Wednesday.

The President further explained that the middle class could benefit from cars produced in India.

“One of your major industrial conglomerates — Tata — is already present in the Philippines and exactly has timed its entry correctly in that there have been something like a 26 percent growth in yearly sales of cars, in particular. We have an increasing middle class that is in need of such products,” he said.

The Chief Executive noted that the Philippines has taken advantage of 74 percent of the 94 percent market opening in India, citing that the trade between the two countries had increased to US$1.59 billion in 2015 from US$1.06 billion in 2014.

“Having said that, I think we are very glad that India has already allowed a 94 percent market opening for Philippine products. The Philippines is trying to catch up, we are presently at the 74 percent level. We recognize how important a market engine is for the Philippines,” he said.

“We want to foster a very, shall we say, better relations with India… There’s a 50 percent growth in trade between the Philippines and India, which was at the 1.06 billion dollar level in 2011, it is now — in 2014 or 2015 — 1.59 billion dollars already.”

President Aquino also said the Philippines could learn from India in terms of managing telecommunication companies.

“Lessons that can be learned, for instance, in your (Indian) telcos and managing our own (Philippine) telcos. I can go on and on… But we have been trying to really deepen the relations between the Philippines and India in so many different aspects and I think we are already bearing fruit from this,” he said. PND (jd)

President Aquino says beneficiaries of ‘Daang Matuwid’ programs will push Roxas to victory
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Wednesday expressed optimism about the chances of Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II winning the presidential race in the May elections.

President Aquino acknowledged that Roxas was behind Senator Grace Poe, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Vice President Jejomar Binay in the recent Pulse Asia survey results.

“It’s true, they are polling in the 20-27 bracket. But, perhaps, what is important is (not) where they are now, but where they came from. Not too long ago, they were polling in the single digit figures — and very low single digit. If I remember correctly, our vice presidential candidate (Leni Robredo) was polling at about one percent. So, there has been a dramatic rise in their numbers,” he said during the open forum of the Publish Asia 2016 Conference held at the Manila Hotel.

The President also pointed out that the other candidates began campaigning a lot earlier than Roxas.

“In defense of the party, Secretary Roxas, not too long ago, was still the Secretary of Interior and Local Government, was busy attending to his work rather than primarily campaigning. There seems to be a truism in the Philippines that the start of the campaign period officially is like a week ago or so. But unofficially, the start of the campaign period is the day after the elections for the next elections supposed to be in this country,” he explained.

“So, we have opponents who have been campaigning for the longest time… Let’s admit it, they had — in a sense — stories that were more interesting from my human interest perspective. Now, by the time our people get to the polling place, they will not have enough time to really digest the issues and see as to who will actually carry out the reforms that we have been doing. I think, even a surface perusal of all of the platforms of their opponents basically say that they will not stop any of our programs, policies or projects, but rather they will enhance (them).”

President Aquino said he believes that those who have benefitted from the government’s reform programs would soon be the LP bets’ “main campaigners”.

“In fact, perhaps, this is unique in the sense that nobody can really be branded as primarily opposition. It seems like everybody wants to say that they will do exactly what we did but they will do it better, especially after a recent survey came up — we have a conditional cash transfer program — and that survey basically said 80 percent of our countrymen will support whoever will continue that particular program. So you had this… everybody claiming how they will improve on the program that we have really expanded greatly. So, at the end of the day, we are confident. In fact, pretty soon, the main campaigners will be the people who have benefitted from all of the reforms that we have instituted in Daang Matuwid,” the President further said.

President Aquino also discounted the possibility of Senator Bongbong Marcos winning the vice presidential contest.

“I think it was after our celebration of our EDSA Revolution, February 25, where I did make a very pointed statement that a lot of people got encouraged to remind, especially our younger generation, our revolution happened 30 years ago. We have had a new generation in place, a new generation that is hard put to understand what it was when the Philippines was under Martial Law,” he said.

“Now, I think I have said it, and at the risk of helping Senator Marcos with his campaign, if at some point in time all he said was, ‘We did mistakes, then, allow me to correct these mistakes.’ But, unfortunately, his message has been — I think he was quoted as saying that that was the golden period for the Philippines, which is contrary to the majority’s opinion in this country, which you will need — whose support he will need to get elected.”

The younger generation of Filipinos, he said, now have access to various means to make them experience what life was like under Martial Law.

“They will realize that this is not consistent with their vision or their aspirations of what their life should be. And then they will answer, I believe the question in this manner: Should we allow an opportunity, even vague at this point in time, for somebody who does not recognize the mistakes of that past to be in a position to commit the same mistakes somewhere in the future? And, I think, the answer will be a redounding ‘No,’” said the President. PND (jm)

President Aquino approves value added tax exemption for persons with disabilities
President Benigno S. Aquino III has approved the bill exempting persons with disabilities (PWD) from paying value added tax (VAT).

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Tuesday said President Aquino signed Republic Act 10754 into law last March 23.

Under the new law, PWDs are exempted from paying VAT on medical and dental fees, cost of medications, professional fees of doctors in government and private hospitals, funeral and burial services, and fees in theaters and amusement parks.

Senator Ralph Recto and Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez were the principal authors of the bill. PND (jm)