17 April 2015

President Aquino leads turnover of funds for ‘Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan’
(TARLAC CITY, Tarlac) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday led the turnover of P3 billion from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the Department of Education’s “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan” program, which aims to build more classrooms in public schools across the country.Coinciding with the turnover of funds was the handover of two new school buildings to the Tarlac National High School here. The school buildings were built by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), with funding from PAGCOR.

In his speech during the turnover ceremony, the President said that when he assumed office in 2010, he had to confront a shortage of 61.7 million textbooks, 2.5 million school seats, and 66,800 classrooms.

He noted that his administration has been able to address these concerns through its reform program and prudent spending.

“Malinaw po na nagawa nating lampasan ang mga napakalaking hamon sa sektor ng edukasyon nang hindi umaasa sa anumang gimik, at lalong hindi sa magic,” he said.

“Todo-kayod ang ginawa natin para makapaglatag ng reporma. Sa pag-unlad ng ating ekonomiya, nabigyan tayo ng pagkakataong magdagdag ng pondo, at ng kakayahang tugunan ang kakulangan sa sektor na ito,” he added.

President Aquino noted that through the “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-aralan,” the Department of Education efficiently and systematically addresses the problems in the education sector, especially the lack of classrooms.

He said the Education Department identifies the public schools that need new classrooms, while PAGCOR releases the funds, and the DPWH handles the construction.

The P3 billion released to the school construction program on Friday brings to P10 billion PAGCOR’s total contribution to the initiative, the President said, adding that the corporation has even surpassed the Education Department’s foreign donors.

Out of PAGCOR’s target of 4,500 classrooms to be built under the program with an initial allocation of P7 billion, the corporation has so far constructed 1,124 classrooms in 239 different locations across the country.

It has projects in Tawi-Tawi, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Lanao del Sur, Catanduanes, Palawan, Bukidnon, Masbate, and Compostela Valley.

Nearly 1,300 typhoon-resilient classrooms are also being constructed in Eastern Visayas, which was devastated by Typhoon Yolanda two years ago. PND (as)

National Police Officer in Charge Espina to stay until new chief is announced
(TARLAC CITY, Tarlac) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday confirmed that Philippine National Police (PNP) Officer in Charge, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina has resigned, but his acceptance of the resignation remains pending until he finds a new chief.

In an interview here, the President noted that Espina will turn 56 years old in July.

“(If) he assumes (office) today, he has about three months to serve. ‘Pag nag-three months to serve siya, may turnover na naman to the next guy who replaces him, and that’s disruptive to the service,” he explained.

He further said that various candidates to the top PNP post are being interviewed.

“I will beg everybody’s patience on this matter. It was not projected that we will be changing the Chief PNP at this point, in 2015. We were thinking that it would be at the end of 2015 when we would have to change the Chief PNP,” he said.

On choosing the chairman of the Commission on Elections, the President said he has already interviewed a candidate, who however declined the offer.

“I actually interviewed one na I did offer the position to. And the person—I cannot name the person—the person basically said, ‘It seems I’m not cut out for that,’ ‘yung ‘If you need me, I will accept it,’ but parang hesitant. E kailangan natin, siyempre, presidential elections next year, ‘yung talagang ganado at masigasig. So, there is another candidate—hopefully I will be able to interview by next week—who has indicated very strong interest and who has the credentials and the track record to do a good job,” he said.

The President also said that he is “more or less done” with choosing the new chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) but he said he has to find a replacement for the position to be vacated by the new chief. PND (as)

Aquino to push for binding Code of Conduct in South China Sea during ASEAN Summit in Malaysia
(TARLAC CITY, Tarlac) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday he would push for the crafting of an enforceable Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, when he attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Malaysia late this month.

The President made the statement amid the United States’ and the Group of Seven’s (G7) pronouncements on the need for a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea disputes.

“Sa nalalapit na pagpunta natin sa Malaysia para sa ASEAN, uulitin natin ang panawagan para mabuo na ‘yung tinatawag na Code of Conduct,” the President told reporters during an interview on the sidelines of a school building turnover ceremony here.

The regional bloc tried to craft a Code of Conduct in 2002 but only came up with the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which is a non-binding agreement signed by the ASEAN and China.

He said even the DOC is being violated by China’s aggressive reclamation efforts in several reefs also being claimed by the Philippines.

“Sa ating pananaw, mukhang naba-violate na ngayon, kaya lalong imperative na itulak natin ang pagsulong nga nitong Code of Conduct,” he said, expressing hope that talks in the ASEAN for the formulation of the Code of Conduct would start soon.

The US and G7’s statements are not new, he said, adding that many other countries are issuing similar statements, calling for a non-violent resolution of the dispute.

The South China Sea problem is not only a regional concern but an international one as well, the President said, noting that at least 40 percent of global trade passes through the shipping lanes of the South China Sea.

Aside from the reclamation work being done by China, another worrisome development is the possibility that China might enforce a fishery law that requires Filipino fishermen to ask permission from Chinese authorities to operate in the contested area.

“Kapag in-enforce nila, parang kailangang humingi na tayo ng permiso para mangisda sa ating exclusive economic zone,” he pointed out.

The Philippines has filed an arbitration case on the issue before the international tribunal, a move opposed by China, refusing to participate and instead rushed the construction of several structures in the contested reefs.

Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan are also laying claim to the resource-rich territory. PND (as)

Government focused on successful implementation of K to 12 program
(TARLAC CITY, Tarlac) The government is making every effort to ensure the success of the implementation of the K to 12 basic education program that will make the country’s future workforce more competitive in the job market, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday.

“Nakatutok po tayo sa matagumpay na implementasyon ng ating K to 12 basic education program,” the President said in his speech during the turnover ceremony of two new school buildings to the Tarlac National High School here.

“Hindi lang para sa mga estudyante ang ginagawa nating paghahanda… Pinag-aaralan na po natin ang mga hakbang upang suportahan ang mga guro at empleadong maaaring maapektuhan nito. Ang hangad natin ay makapagbukas ng mga bagong oportunidad para sa kanilang pagtuturo at pag-aaral,” he added.

He cited an initiative that supports teachers from state universities and colleges who want to pursue graduate studies, as the education sector transitions to the K to 12 program.

As the government aggressively develops the country’s education sector, the President also called on students to do their share by concentrating on their studies.

“Salubungin ninyo nawa ang mga inilalatag sa inyong oportunidad ng sarili ninyong pagsisikap,” he said.

“Marahil, ilang beses ninyo na itong narinig mula sa inyong mga magulang, pero ito naman ang galing sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas: Mag-aral po kayo sana nang mabuti,” he added.

President Aquino earlier also led the handover of P3 billion from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for the Department of Education’s “Matuwid na Daan sa Silid-Aralan” program.

The release of the fund brings to P10 billion PAGCOR’s total contribution to the Education Department’s school construction initiative. PND (as)

President Aquino inspects new buildings, classrooms in Malolos Integrated School
(CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday morning inspected two new school buildings at the City of Malolos Integrated School here that were constructed under the Public-Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP).

Upon arrival at the school, located in Barangay Sto. Rosario, President Aquino proceeded to inspect a two-storey building with six classrooms and another two-storey building with 18 classrooms.

He was welcomed by Education Secretary Armin Luistro; Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao; Bulacan Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado; Vice Governor Daniel Fernando; Bulacan First District Congresswoman Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado; Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad; Chairman of Citicore Holdings Investment Corporation Michael Cosiquien; Chief Operating Officer of Citicore-Megawide Consortium, Inc. Edgar Saavedra; and Citicore-Megawide President Louie Ferrer.

Secretary Luistro and Citicore Chairman Cosiquien presented to the President a scale model of the two school buildings, signifying the turnover of 2,885 new classrooms constructed by Citicore-Megawide in Central Luzon under the PSIP.

The consortium designed, financed and constructed the classrooms under the PPP’s Build-Lease-Transfer arrangement, in an effort to address the nationwide shortage of classrooms.

Of the 742 classrooms constructed in the province of Bulacan, 59 are in Malolos-based schools, among them the Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School, Panasahan Elementary School, Malolos Elementary School, Balayong Elementary School, Santisima Trinidad Elementary School, Santor Elementary School, Longos Elementary School, Ligas Elementary School, Balite Elementary School, and the Catmon campus of the City of Malolos Integrated School.

The consortium will construct another 4,259 classrooms in 12 provinces across Central Luzon and the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (Calabarzon) area.

With the President were Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson and TESDA Secretary Joel Villanueva. PND (ag)