, AUGUST 9, 2007 (MALACAÑANG, OPS) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo conferred today the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Datu (Gold Distinction) on outgoing Canadian Ambassador Peter Sutherland.

“We’re going to miss you. You have a fruitful tour of duty in the Philippines and it seems you enjoyed your work here as well as your stay in the country,” the President told Ambassador Sutherland.

Sutherland, for his part, thanked the President for the support and warm reception she and the government had tendered to him during his tour of duty in the Philippines.

At a brief conferment rites held at Malacañang’s Music Room, the President presented to Sutherland the Presidential Sash, Badge, Star and the Presidential Plaque of Citation of the Order of Sikatuna.

The Order of Sikatuna, established in 1953, is conferred by the President of the Philippines upon individuals, diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines.

The order is usually given to individuals for their outstanding services in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.

Among the officials present during the ceremony was Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

PGMA gives awards to top disaster coordinating councils and individuals

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led today the recognition of the country’s outstanding disaster coordinating councils, individuals and other major stakeholders for their valuable contribution in the effective implementation of the government’s risk management programs and projects.

In simple rites held at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall this afternoon, the President, assisted by newly-installed Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) Executive Officer Glen Rabonza, handed out the KALASAG (Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan) plaques of recognition to the winners who showed heroism and exemplary achievements.

The awardees were:

For the Best Local Disaster Coordinating Councils -- The Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) of La Union; PDCC of South Cotabato; City Disaster Coordinating Council (CDCC) of Olongapo City; CDCC of Bago City (component city); Municipal Disaster Coordinating Council of Labo, Camarines Norte (1st & 2nd class municipality);

MDCC of Maragusan, Compostella Valley (1st &2nd class municipality); MDCC of Ponteverde, Negros Occidental (5th &6th class municipality); MDCC of Sibunag, Guimaras (5th & 6th class municipality), and the Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council of Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.

The Leyte Center for Development Inc. of Palo, Leyte was recognized for its humanitarian assistance during the landslide in Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte.

Iligan City’s Rescue 811, the Olongapo Rescue Team and the Baguio City Emergency Medical Service were also given recognition as Government Emergency Responders.

Romeo Lanuza was the winner in the individual category for his heroic deed in rescuing Gretchen Gorospe, a young girl, from drowning.

The GAWAD KALASAG Awards highlighted the National Disaster Consciousness Month (July) celebration with this year’s theme : “ Safe Ka Ba?: Programa Laban Sa Kalamidad Tungo sa Pag-unlad.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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