, October 18, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) In line with her efforts to make basic needs and services accessible and readily available to the people, especially the poor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led today the launching of the Serbisyo Muna! Project at Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City.

The Serbisyo Muna! Project is an all-encompassing, inter-agency endeavor which converges the socio-civic and developmental programs of the various agencies of government as well as the private sector and non-government groups.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Efraim C. Genuino, who is also the head of the Serbisyo Muna! Task Force, said the aim of the project is to make the people feel the Arroyo government's concern and attention for their welfare through the enhanced delivery of basic needs and services.

The Serbisyo Muna! Project launch included the turnover of the newly-constructed Metro Pulis Outpost and the license to operate a Botika ng Barangay, both located at Diego Silang Street corner Luzon Avenue in Quezon City.

The Metro Pulis Outpost is designed to deter the incidence of crime via increased police visibility while the Botika ng Barangay offers high quality, branded medicines at affordable prices.

The Serbisyo Muna! Project was highlighted by a medical mission, supplemental feeding sessions and lecture/presentations on various important topics like urban gardening and values formation, held simultaneously in different locations around the city.

The medical-dental mission, held at the covered court of the barangay, was organized by the PAGCOR in cooperation with the local government of Quezon City, headed by Mayor Feliciano ‘SB’ Belmonte for the provision of doctors and medical personnel as well as the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) for the provision of medicines and vitamins.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also offered on-site livelihood training programs such as basic haircutting, Christmas décor making, meat processing and reflexology and massage therapy while the Training and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) also offered its own set of programs.

As a bonus, TESDA also offered free services such as haircut, manicure, pedicure and massage, much to the delight of the residents.

Meanwhile, PAGCOR, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), awarded the barangay with its very first fire hydrant to put to ease the residents’ concerns on where to get water in case a fire breaks out in their community.

Among the government officials who attended the event were PAGCOR Chairman Genuino, Mayor Belmonte, Barangay Chairwoman Marivic Co-Pilar, Q.C. 2nd Dist. Rep. Mary Ann Susano, Councilor Eric Rey Medina, Quezon City Police District Chief Supt. Nicasio Radovan Jr. and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Vidal Querol.

Ermita: CPR is meant to prevent bloody confrontation, not to suppress people's right to peaceable assembly

Malacanang today assured that the government’s calibrated preemptive response (CPR) policy in dealing with demonstrations is meant to prevent bloody confrontations, not to suppress the right to peaceable assembly.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita explained that the CPR policy is meant to ensure that the situation won’t become a bloody face-off where it will be more complicated and more people will get hurt. "An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure," he stressed.

In a radio interview, Ermita also defended Friday’s dispersal of a rally outside the San Sebastian College along Recto Avenue in Manila, pointing out that a "splinter group" broke away from the main group that was staging a procession, and attempted to enter the Mendiola bridge area.

"They know their permit allows them to march from Plaza Miranda (in Quiapo, Manila) to the San Sebastian Church only. They really do things to test the patience and provoke the authorities," he said.

With the rally group last Friday were some priests, bishops, nuns and known anti-government personalities like former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Senator Jamby Madrigal and Bayan Muna partylist Representatives Satur Ocampo and Rissa Hontiveros.

The group staged a "religious procession" after the rain abated and ostensibly planned to visit the San Sebastian, St. Jude and San Beda churches.

St. Jude Church stands just a few meters away from Malacanang while San Beda is adjacent to the Chino Roces bridge in Mendiola.

Firemen used water cannons to disperse a breakaway militant group of the demonstrators when they reportedly started shouting seditious chants as they attempted to enter the Mendiola area.

Ermita said Malacanang does not want a repetition of the bloody farmers’ Mendiola march during the tenure of former President Corazon Aquino in 1987 when 17 people died and hundreds got injured.

"Even before, authorities have banned rallies in Mendiola because it is very near Malacanang. Many schools and business establishments in the area are inconvenienced by rallies," Ermita said.

"What kind of government would not want to prevent untoward incidents?" he added.

Ermita said he has a lot of respect for Guingona and Ocampo but he does not buy the idea that they would suddenly turn religious by joining a so-called prayer procession.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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