27 May 2016

President Aquino says he did his best as President during crisis situations
(SAN JOSE, Tarlac) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday defended himself from criticisms that he lacks empathy, especially during crisis situations, saying he has always acted as a true chief executive who thinks of restoring calm and putting things in order.

During an interview here, the President cited two examples — the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga siege.
He recounted that he went to Tacloban two days after Typhoon Yolanda struck Eastern Visayas to check the situation there and assure the people of government support.

“‘Yung dinaanan naming kalsada ang daming tao naglalakad, ‘yung pabalik-balik. At siyempre alam na natin ‘yung balita na nagkaroon na ng mga looting doon. So, parang wala akong nakitang LGU (local government unit), walang kapulisan na nagsasabing: Bakit ba tayo gala nang gala dito kung namomoroblema (problema) na tayo kung saan tayo kukuha ng tubig, pagkain, et cetera,” he said.

“So, ano ang ginawa ko doon? Bumaba ako at pinakiusapan ko lahat ng makausap ko doon, may nagkumpol-kumpol na grupo, sabi ko sa kanila… Alam ho niyo, parang interes ko kailangan mabigyan ng feeling of calm na may parating na ayuda na, at talaga naman may parating na,'” he added.

Meanwhile, during the Zamboanga crisis, he related that there were those who insinuated that the hostages be sacrificed.

“Dumating ako, dinalaw natin ‘yung sugatan, pinuntahan natin… Tiningnan natin ‘yung ibang sites, may briefing ‘nung tactical situation, pero ang isang hindi ko makakalimutan doon, hinarap ko ‘yung mga representante ng komunidad ng Zamboanga City, meaning ‘yung local government unit, ‘yung civil society, meron pang mga relihiyoso, maraming — nasa ulo ko ho ‘yung mga mukha at saka pangalan nila, hindi ko na babanggitin,” he said.

“Bottom line, ang hindi ko makalimutan na bitaw na salita: ‘Alam ho niyo matagal na itong kaguluhan sa amin at iyong interes ng mahigit 200,000 mamamayan ng Zamboanga City ay dapat mangibabaw doon sa interes ng 200 hostages.’ At sabi nila doon sa dulo, doon ako medyo nagimbal nang kaunti: ‘Kailangan tapusin na ninyo ngayon ito. Sobra na ang molestiya sa amin,’” he said, adding that his mind was on how to calm the people down and come up with a reasonable solution.

The President said he refused and this resulted in the rescue of many hostages.
More than 200 people were taken as hostages by members of the Moro National Liberation Front and only two were killed – those who tried to escape before the rescue operation, he said.

“Parang hindi bababa sa 16 sa ating kasundaluhan at kapulisan ang yumao sa pagliligtas ng mga tao pero na-achieve ‘yung pangunahing mission: Pangalagaan ang interes ng ating mga mamamayan,” he pointed out.

“May mga lumusob, nabawi natin ‘yung hostages, hindi tayo gumawa ng panibagong — pwede nating masabing mitsa para lalong lumaki ang gulo doon,” he added.
President Aquino emphasized that he is not play-acting his role as Chief Executive of the country.

“I perform my role as President. And I’d like to think every minute and every second of my presidency to include even the sleeping moments,” he said. PND (as)

Palace welcomes survey results on low self-rated poverty, food poverty rates
Malacañang has welcomed the findings of a new Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, which showed self-rated poverty and food poverty ratings at multi-year lows, noting that good governance has strengthened the economy and increased opportunities for Filipinos.“We welcome the most recent survey results released by the Social Weather Stations, which put both self-rated poverty and food poverty rates at multi-year lows,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Friday.

The survey, conducted from March 30 to April 2, showed that the number of families who consider themselves poor has dropped to 46 percent — equivalent to 10.5 million families — in the first quarter, from 50 percent — equivalent to 11.2 million families — in December last year, translating to an estimated 700,000 families no longer living in poverty.

“This percentage is the lowest recorded in over four years, since December 2011,” Secretary Lacierda said.

He further said that the results reflect declining quarterly rates noted in all regions except Mindanao, with self-rated poverty falling by 14 points in Visayas and by 7 points in Metro Manila.

“At 53 percent, even the poverty rate for Mindanao has fallen considerably compared to the 63 percent full-year average for 2015,” he said.
In terms of self-rated food poverty, the poll showed a decline to 31 percent — equivalent to 6.9 million families — from 33 percent — equivalent to 7.4 million families — last December.

“In real numbers, this means about 500,000 families no longer consider themselves food-poor,” Lacierda said.

The Palace official said that according to the SWS, the decline is supported by lower food poverty rates in Visayas and Mindanao, which, compared to last quarter, fell by 17 and 4 points, respectively.

“Relative to the region’s full-year average for 2015 (51 percent), Mindanao’s rate especially improved — it is now only at 37 percent, the lowest quarterly rate since December 2011,” he said.

Lacierda said the Aquino administration has remained “unwavering in our commitment to sustainable and equitable progress” for the past six years.

“Believing that good governance is good economics, we have sought to better the lives of Filipinos by making appropriate investments in areas such as health, education, infrastructure, and job skills development,” he said, adding that this has resulted in the “strengthening of our economy and the expansion of opportunities for our countrymen”.

He further said that the administration has strived for more direct interventions, such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

He cited the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s latest studies, which showed that the flagship poverty alleviation program of the government “has not only successfully lifted millions above the poverty threshold, but has also placed families in a better position to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty”.

“Now, with the world’s eyes on the Philippines, it is up to the next administration to ensure that our remarkable growth story continues — toward even greater success for the country and even better opportunities for the Filipino,” he said.
In previous speeches, President Benigno S. Aquino III has reported that some 4.6 million households across the country are benefitting from the 4Ps beneficiaries.

President Aquino said 1.5 million families, or about 7.7 million Filipinos, have already been lifted above the poverty line. PND (kt)