October 22 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino visits typhoon-ravaged Aurora, coordinates government efforts
(CASIGURAN, Aurora) President Benigno S. Aquino III visited Aurora province on Thursday to assess the damage inflicted by Typhoon Lando and to coordinate government efforts to assist the victims.

In his report to the President, Aurora Governor Jerry Angara Noveras said three people died and 42 others sustained injuries in the province during the typhoon.

“As of yesterday (Wednesday), October 21, at 4 p.m., ang affected number of population po ay total of 18,388 families na binubuo ng 78,986 individuals. In terms of casualty, meron pong tatlong nasawi kaugnay po ng bagyong Lando. Dalawa po dito sa Casiguran at isa po sa bayan ng Dinalungan,” Governor Noveras said, adding that 4,608 families, consisting of 16,970 individuals, were evacuated at the height of the typhoon.

He noted that 14,536 houses were damaged, 1,924 of which were totally destroyed.

He also estimated damage to infrastructure at P254.32 million, and damage to schools and other facilities at P54.6 million.

“Ito po ang malaki. Ang damage po sa agriculture ay umaabot ng P319,903,717. Ang sa livestock po ay P1.5 million; sa crops ay P311 million-plus; at sa fishery sector po ay umaabot na anim na milyong mahigit,” the governor said, putting total damage to infrastructure and agriculture at P573.9 million.

Noveras further said that the communication system has not yet been fully restored in Casiguran, and authorities are working to bring back electricity.

“Base po sa initial report ng AURELCO ay umaabot po ng mahigit sa 22 milyong piso ang nasira sa kuryente,” he said.

The Department of Energy has said that it could energize some parts of the province by Monday.

Meanwhile, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman said her department has sent 4,500 food packs for the affected families in Casiguran.

Secretary Soliman said that in response to the local government’s request for dry clothes, the department has provided 330 sacks of clothes for Casiguran and the rest were sent to Baler.

She said they have also provided malongs, mosquito nets, blankets and hygiene kits for the typhoon victims in Casiguran.

To help the residents rebuild their homes, the social welfare department will provide P30,000 each for those whose houses were totally damaged and P10,000 each for those whose houses were partially damaged.

The local government has also agreed to provide housing materials to the affected residents, instead of giving them money, Soliman said.

The Department of Public Works and Highways will furnish the residents a design for a more durable house that could withstand strong typhoons in the future.

The World Food Programme is also providing Casiguran with a huge tent for the storage of relief goods.

During the meeting with the President, the provincial government sought the lifting of an order prohibiting the use of portable chainsaws, to enable the people to use confiscated logs to build new houses.

For his part, President Aquino said that while the country cannot avoid the 20 typhoons that hit it annually, the people could make preparations to mitigate the risks of these weather disturbances.

“Kapag in-assess natin lahat ito, meron tayong makikita na pwede pang gawing mas maganda dahil may casualties pa rin tayo (during Typhoon Lando),” he said.

“Meron tayong natural na pangyayaring parati tayong dadatnan, pwede tayong matuto, puwede tayong magpaganda ng ating paghahanda at mabawasan ‘yung problemang dadaanan,” he said.

“So, ang pakiusap ko, ituloy lang ho natin ang pagtutulungan, pakikisama sa isa’t isa, at mapapabilis natin ang proseso nang lahat na ito,” the President said. PND (as)

Military upgrade important, says Palace official
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Thursday said the government recognizes the importance of upgrading the Philippine military so it would be on a par with its counterparts in the world.

During a press briefing in Malacañang, the Palace official noted that 56 projects under the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Modernization Program have been completed, compared to only 45 under the previous administrations.

“Sa simula’t sapul ay kinilala ng Aquino administration ang kahalagahan ng pagpapahusay sa mga kagamitan ng ating Sandatahang Lakas. Binanggit ni Pangulong Aquino sa kanyang huling State of the Nation Address na sa ilalim ng kasalukuyang pamamahala, mayroong total of 56 projects sa AFP Modernization Program ang naipatupad at nakumpleto, kumpara sa 45 doon sa mga proyektong naisagawa noong mga nakaraang administrasyon,” Secretary Coloma said when asked to comment on a recent report that the country’s military ranks sixth in the list of the world’s worst armies.

The ranking was based on an online article posted by “We Are The Mighty”, a group of former American soldiers who turned to the Internet to provide information to US servicemen.

In the same article, the group said “the Philippines’ Naval and Air Forces are still nearly 60 years old and its ships are old US Coast Guards cutters”.

The group’s list ranked the Philippines behind Costa Rica, Iraq, North Korea, Eritrea, and Nigeria. At No. 7 is Tajikistan, followed by Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.

Coloma said President Aquino has already approved the purchase of items included in the second phase of the military upgrade.

“Nito lang nakaraang buwan, naiulat na sa mga pahayagan na inaprubahan ni Pangulong Aquino ‘yung mga items na mapapasama sa panibagong yugto ng AFP Modernization Act na naging batas noong December 2012. Mayroong, kumbaga, Phase II ng programang ito at nabanggit sa mga pahayagan na ang ilan sa mga big-ticket items ay ang mga sumusunod: dalawang navy frigates worth P18 billion, tatlong air surveillance radars worth P2.68 billion, anim na close air support aircraft worth P4.97 billion, two units of long-range patrol aircraft worth P5.98 billion, multipurpose attack craft project worth P864.32 million, night fighting system worth P1.116 billion, dalawang C-130 aircraft worth P1.6 billion, dalawang naval helicopters worth P5.4 billion, at lead-in fighter trainer jets ammunition worth P4.47 billion,” the Palace official said.

Coloma also mentioned the purchase of fighter jets from Korea.

“Batid po natin na sa kasalukuyan hinihintay ang delivery ng isang squadron—parang isang dosena yata ito—na mga fighter jets na galing sa Korea,” he said.

He said the purchase of military equipment shows how the government is doing its best to improve the country’s armed forces.

“Kaya makikita natin ang kongkretong manipestasyon ng ibayong pagsisikap na gawing moderno ang ating Sandatahang Lakas at ito ay pinapatunayan sa pamamagitan ng pagkuha ng mga pinakamodernong kagamitan na gagamitin ng ating army, navy, at air force,” Coloma further said. PND (jm)

Agriculture Department to extend support to Aurora’s farmers, fishermen
(CASIGURAN, Aurora) The Department of Agriculture (DA) will provide seeds, boats and fertilizers for Aurora province’s farmers and fishermen, whose livelihoods were affected by Typhoon Lando.

In his report to President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the department is giving farmers some 500 bags of certified palay seeds, 120 bags of hybrid seeds, and 10,000 pieces of coffee planting materials.

The DA will also distribute 5,000 tissue-cultured saba and lakatan bananas and 500 bags of fertilizer for the banana trees, he said, noting however that farmers have to clear banana areas before applying the fertilizer.

The department also pledged 3,000 bags of fertilizer for other crops.

Once the intervention is done, the farmers can harvest in the next 10 months, Secretary Alcala said.

Casiguran’s local government and the DA have also agreed to set up a nursery for native guava, although guava cultivation requires a wide area, he noted, adding that farmers could expect to harvest guavas after one-and-a-half years.

Once farmers start to produce, the DA will pay for the nursery’s output, Alcala said.

Raising native chickens and pigs will also be introduced to the farmers, he said, adding that this is the most immediate intervention the government could make to help the livestock sector.

As for Casiguran’s fishery sector, Alcala said the department will release 100 sets of motorized bancas that are made of fiberglass; and will provide 1,000 sheets of marine plywood, 200 kilograms (kg) of copper nails, 500 liters of marine epoxy, and 500 liters of marine paint for the repair of damaged boats, along with 1,000 sets of hook and line for fishing, and 10 units of shallow payao.

Meanwhile, for the nearby towns of Dinalungan and Dilasag, the DA has allotted 50 motorized fiberglass bancas each, and will provide 1,000 sheets of marine plywood, 200 kg of copper nails, 500 liters of marine epoxy, 500 liters of marine paint, 1,000 sets of hook and line, 100 sets of gear nets, and 10 units of shallow payao.

Aurora Governor Jerry Angara Noveras, in his report to President Aquino, said Casiguran’s agriculture sector sustained losses worth P319.9 million; livestock, P1.5 million; crops, P311 million; and fishery sector, more than P6 million due to Typhoon Lando.

Governor Noveras estimated at P573.9 million the total damage inflicted on Aurora’s infrastructure and agriculture. PND (as)

President Aquino signs law on financial assistance to poor students
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the bill providing financial support to students from underprivileged families.

The President signed last October 15 Republic Act 10687, which provides for a comprehensive and unified student financial assistance system for tertiary education (UniFAST).

Under the law, more qualified students will be able to access government-funded scholarships, grants-in-aid, and low-cost educational loans.

Republic Act 10687 also requires the creation of a Board that will formulate and approve policies and strategies; coordinate with the implementing agencies of existing Student Financial Assistance Program (StuFAP) in the formulation, approval and issuance of guidelines towards the development and promotion of the UniFAST; and adopt a qualifying examination system for scoring students for merit and talent-based StuFAPs and determine the eligibility for grants-in-aid and other modalities of StuFAP.

The Board is composed of the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education; director general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; secretary of the Department of Education; and representatives of the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Labor and Employment, National Economic and Development Authority, and the National Youth Commission.

The UniFAST bill was authored by Pasig City Representative Roman Romulo, also the chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education and Technical Education. PND (jm)

President Aquino signs law on metallurgical engineering practice
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed into law the bill regulating the practice of metallurgical engineering in the country.

Republic Act 10688, which was signed by the President last October 20, repeals Presidential Decree 1536, also known as the “Metallurgical Engineering Law of the Philippines”.

The “Metallurgical Act of 2015” covers the examination, registration and licensure of metallurgical engineers; supervision, control and regulation of the practice of metallurgical engineering; development and upgrading of the curriculum of the metallurgical engineering profession in conformity with the approved curriculum of the Commission on Higher Education; development of the professional competence of metallurgical engineers through continuing professional education; and the integration of the metallurgical engineering profession.

The law also penalizes any person who shall practice metallurgical engineering in the country without a valid certificate of registration, a valid professional identification card or a valid temporary/special permit in accordance with the provisions of the Act, unless declared exempt from registration, with a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million, or imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than five years, or both, at the discretion of the court. PND (jm)

APEC sees green port award system as an important platform to improve Asia Pacific’s port industry
(LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu) The 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are being encouraged to participate in a program that “serves as an important platform for best practices sharing, the promotion of efficiency and sustainability, and the improvement of the overall competitiveness” of the Asia Pacific’s port industry.

The APEC’s transportation ministers made the call for support for the newly established Green Port Award System (GPAS) following the conclusion of the APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting held here last month.

In their joint statement, the transportation officials also applauded the APEC Port Services Network (APSN) for its efforts to create the GPAS.

The APSN is a forum for communication and collaboration among port and
port-related industries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Aside from information sharing, capacity building and technical cooperation, the APSN also provides a unique channel for dialogue between industry and competent authorities on various issues of common interest.

So far, the APEC economies that have designated a council member for the APSN are Australia; Canada; China; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malaysia; New Zealand; Russian Federation; Papua New Guinea; Peru; the Philippines; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand; the United States of America; and Vietnam. The newest to join in 2013 was New Zealand.

Over the past years, the APSN has devoted considerable time and resources to green issues, culminating in the decision by the APSN Council to pursue the development of the Green Port Award System.

As a major deliverable by the APSN, the APSN GPAS is the first regional program potentially encompassing all APEC ports, with a total annual throughput of about 345 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), or about 65 percent of 2010’s global throughput of 540 million TEUs.

The GPAS is intended to improve environmental awareness and increase the understanding of green port development strategy, with the aim of achieving a balance between economic development and environmental protection in the APEC ports community; promote the sustainable development of ports in the APEC region and protect the port environment for the benefit of the entire APEC community; contribute to the harmonization of regulations and improve interoperability of green port systems in the APEC region; and establish an APEC green port performance benchmark based on this program, and share best practices and encourage mutual assistance among APEC ports. ( APEC Communications Group)