30 June 2015

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands pays courtesy call on President Aquino
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands during a courtesy call in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday morning.

Queen Maxima, who is also the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development, is in the country until July 1 to discuss financial services and strategies in the Philippines.

During the courtesy call, Queen Maxima was accompanied by Ambassador Maria Christina Theresia Derckx of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Ola Almgren, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines; Peer Stein, Director in the Finance and Markets Global Practice of the World Bank Group; Gabriella Sancisi, Private Secretary to HM the Queen; and Paolo Galli, Director of Office of the UNSGSA.

Joining President Aquino were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr., Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario, and Finance Undersecretary Jeremias Paul.

Queen Maxima’s visit was at the invitation of the Philippine government and the BSP.

While in Manila, the Queen will meet with leaders from the public and private sectors, and participate in the launch of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion.

According to the United Nations Information Center in Manila, Queen Maxima will visit the province of Cavite on Tuesday to “speak with local businesses about how financial services, like a bank or savings account, loan or insurance, could improve their economic development”.

On Wednesday, the Queen will meet with the Central Bank governor and deliver a speech at the launch of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, a BSP-coordinated action plan that aims to enhance cooperation among ministries, government agencies, and the private sector to improve the population’s access to financial services.

The Queen will also participate in a roundtable discussion with parties involved in the national strategy, including the BSP, the departments of finance, social welfare and development, education, and trade and industry, and such government agencies as the National Economic and Development Authority, the Insurance Commission, and the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Queen Maxima will also meet with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, as well as with House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

The Queen was designated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development in 2009. PND (co)

Palace reports Aquino administration’s major successes in past five years
As President Benigno S. Aquino III marked his fifth year in office, the Palace on Tuesday reported its achievements in the past five years, vowing to continue to uphold the rule of law, and fight corruption and poverty.

“Today, as he marks the completion of five years of his term of office, he reiterates his sworn commitment to ‘faithfully and conscientiously fulfill his duties as President of the Philippines’,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing.

“While the President will deliver a comprehensive report to the people in his final State of the Nation Address on July 27 before a joint session of Congress, it is well to affirm how he has lived up to the promises that he made in his platform of government when he filed his certificate of candidacy.”

Since 2010, Secretary Coloma said, the country’s average gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.3 percent has been the highest level attained by the Philippines in the past four decades.

This is the fastest growth rate of any nation in the ASEAN region and the second fastest in the Asia-Pacific region, he said, noting that government spending has been aligned with the national objective of achieving inclusive growth.

Coloma further highlighted the implementation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, saying that the number of its beneficiaries ballooned from 800,000 families to more than 4.4 million families at present.

The largest portion of the current national budget (37 percent) has been allocated for social development and poverty reduction, he said.

“Significantly, the number of overseas Filipino workers has declined from 10 million to 8.4 million, while domestic job creation has been sustained, resulting in a reduction of the unemployment rate to only 6.6 percent as of January 2015,” he said.
The administration, he added, has successfully strengthened and reformed public institutions.

Coloma further said that a Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) was established in 2011 under Republic Act 10149, and these GOCCs’ direct contribution to the national coffers has been increasing every year.

“In fact, total dividends from GOCCs from 2011 to 2015 exceeded P131 billion, compared to P84 billion remitted in the preceding nine-year period,” he said.

The government has also made strides in fighting corruption and ensuring accountability in public service, Coloma said, citing as examples the Senate’s impeachment trial and the eventual conviction of a sitting Supreme Court Chief Justice, and the prosecution of three senators involved in the illegal use of pork barrel funds.

Good governance has become the norm of public service, he said, pointing out that the administration has carried out initiatives to ensure that the government remains open, transparent and accountable.

“During the next 12 months, the Aquino administration is firmly determined to further improve the delivery of essential public services and the strengthening of public institutions, so that we are able to build even stronger foundations for sustainable and inclusive growth and progress that would be its legacy to all future generations of Filipinos,” Coloma said. PND (as)

No politics involved in Mayor Binay’s suspension, says Palace
The Palace on Tuesday denied the involvement of politics in the issuance of another suspension order against Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, appealing to him to follow the rule of law to prevent the disruption of public service in the city.

“Patuloy ang panawagan ng pamahalaan sa pagpapairal ng kaayusan at rule of law upang matiyak ang daloy ng serbisyo publiko,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Secretary Coloma emphasized that the rule of law must prevail, as all elected and appointed officials have vowed to observe the law.

He explained that it is the Office of the Ombudsman’s duty to charge erring public officials and issue preventive suspension orders, resulting from administrative charges against government officials.

Asked to comment on allegations that the administration is harassing the family of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Coloma responded, “Ang pangunahin pong tinutukoy ng ating pamahalaan ay ang kagalingang pambansa at ang kapakanan ng ating mga mamamayan. Hindi po kami namumulitika dito.”

The younger Binay received a second suspension order from the Ombudsman over allegations of overpricing in the construction of the P1.3-billion Makati City Science High School building. PND (as)

Dutch Queen Maxima lauds Philippines financial inclusion efforts
During her meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday, Her Majesty Queen Maxima of the Netherlands commended the Philippines’ efforts in making financial services more accessible to all Filipinos.

The Queen, who is also the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, paid a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang as part of her three-day official visit to the country to promote financial inclusion.

“Queen Maxima commended the Philippines’ efforts on financial inclusion and highlighted that the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI), an inter-agency program spearheaded by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that would be launched tomorrow, Wednesday, July 1, is a good step towards enabling Filipinos to have access to financial services,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

For his part, President Aquino reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to ensure financial inclusion among all Filipinos and shared the country’s examples of projects, such as the Convergence on Value Chain-Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (ConVERGE) and the Fisheries, Coastal Resources and Livelihood (FishCORAL) that includes farmers’ and fishermen’s access to financial services and the banking sector, as well as the Conditional Cash Transfer Program that enhances financial inclusion among its beneficiaries, through the use of mobile phones.

While in the country, Queen Maxima will meet with leaders from the public and private sectors and give a speech at the launch of the NSFI, which aims to enhance cooperation among ministries, government agencies, and the private sector to improve the population’s access to financial services.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. has announced that after the NSFI launch on Wednesday, the NSFI committee would draft an Action Plan on Financial Inclusion, which will be presented to the President in two to three months.

Joining President Aquino during the courtesy call were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Finance, and the BSP.

Queen Maxima was designated in 2009 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. PND (co)

Philippine economy could absorb shocks posed by Greek debt crisis, says Palace Official
The country’s economy is strong enough to withstand the effects of the Greek financial crisis, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“According to Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, ‘The Philippines is in a much stronger position now to face the volatility that may result from Grexit,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing.

“Grexit” is the short term used for the possible exit of Greece from the European Union (EU).

“Our reserves are at historic highs; our external debt are long-dated and now down to 15 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Our current account has been in a surplus for 13 straight years. Our banks are better capitalized and the economy is more diversified than ever,” Secretary Coloma quoted Secretary Purisima as saying.

“Sa madaling salita, mas malakas ang ating ekonomiya at makakayanan nitong ma-absorb ‘yung possible shocks dahil sa katatagan ng ating macroeconomic fundamentals,” he added.

Greece, which might default from its debts, has announced that it would carry out capital controls to protect its banking sector. Greek banks were deprived of additional emergency financing by EU creditors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greece said it would restrict bank withdrawals in the coming days to prevent a collapse of cash-strapped Greek banks. PND (as)

President Aquino leads mass oath-taking of government officials in Malacañang
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday inducted into office Health Secretary Janette Garin, nine undersecretaries, and 24 other ranking government officials in a ceremony held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace.

Sworn in were Undersecretaries Vicente Belizario and Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Department of Health; Undersecretary Maria Catalina Cabral and Assistant Secretaries Gilberto Reyes and Bienadel Elizabeth Yap of the Department Public Works and Highways; Undersecretaries Jonas Leones and Analiza Rebuelta-Teh and Assistant Secretaries Marcial Amaro, Jr., Corazon Davis and Anselmo Abungan (in acting capacity) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources;

Undersecretary Herman Ongkiko and Assistant Secretaries Justin Vicente Lachica and Teofilo Inocencio (in acting capacity) of the Department of Agrarian Reform; Undersecretaries Robert Francis Garcia and Joel Jaime Payumo of the Office of the Political Adviser, under the Office of the President; Assistant Secretary Juan Pocholo Martin Goitia of the Office of the President;

Acting Assistant Secretary Danielle Marie Rieza; deputy commissioner Arturo Lachica of the Internal Administrations Group of the Bureau of Customs; Chief Privatization Officer/Executive Director V Toni Angeli Coo of the Privatization and Management Office, all under the Department of Finance;

Undersecretary Benito Bengzon, Jr. of the Department of Tourism; Assistant Secretary Elvin Ivan Uy of the Department of Education; Assistant Secretary Noel Macalalad of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Acting Assistant Secretary Katherine Brimon of the Department of Labor and Employment; and Assistant Secretary Reggie Ramos of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

Inducted as commissioners were Yolanda David Reyes of the Professional Regulation Commission; Sheriff Abas and Rowena Amelia Guanzon of the Commission on Election;

Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez as member representing the Retired Justices of the Supreme Court, Judicial and Bar Council, Supreme Court of the Philippines; Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel as member representing health care providers, Board of Directors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation; Eddie Dorotan as member representing the local chief executives, Board of Directors of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation; Janet Lopoz as executive director, and Vicente Lao as member of the Board of Directors, representing the business sector of the Mindanao Development Authority; and, Sheila Centino as deputy executive director of the Performance and Projects Management Office, under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. PND (ag)

President Aquino to attend Air Force’s 68th founding anniversary in Pampanga
President Benigno S. Aquino III will lead the celebration of the 68th founding anniversary of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Clark Air Base in Pampanga on Wednesday, an event that will also showcase the Air Force’s new assets.

Prior to his speech, the President will lead the awarding of outstanding PAF officers.

The event will also feature a pass-in review with fly-by by the PAF air assets, a capability parade, and a para jump.

The Air Force, during the celebration, will showcase its newly acquired communication vans, combat vehicles such as the V-150 armored personnel carriers, and humvees.

It will also parade its KM 450 transport vehicles, towing 20mm M39 Cannons; explosive disposal vans; as well as its K9 teams.

Other participants in the fly-by include the T-41 primary trainer aircraft, SF260 basic trainer aircraft, S211, OV-10 Broncos, Nomad N-22, Fokker F27 and the newly acquired Casa C295 cargo aircraft.

The Air Force’s workhorse, the C-130 cargo plane, will also be showcased, participating in the paratroop drop.

Such Air Force helicopters as the MD520-MG, Huey, Sikorsky S-76A, Bell 205, and the Polish-made Sokols will also join the fly-by.

The PAF is the aerial warfare service branch of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Initially, it was part of the Philippine Army and was formed as a separate branch of the military on July 1, 1947 under Executive Order No. 94.

The country’s military aviation began when then Senate president Manuel L. Quezon proposed a bill for the creation of the Philippine Militia, otherwise known as the Philippine National Guard (PNG). It was approved on March 17, 1917.

The PAF’s 68th anniversary celebration carries the theme, “Matatag na Bagwis, Dangal ng Bayan, Lakas ng Sambayanan”. PND (as)