MANILA, OCTOBER 24, 2010 (STAR) By Aurea Calica – Malacañang is hoping to silence critics with more good news, especially from the international community, such as the decision of the World Bank to double its assistance to the country next year.

From its current overall assistance of $650 million, the World Bank (WB) is looking at an increase of $1.3 billion up to $1.5 billion, WB Country Director Bert Hofman said.

The WB is also expected to increase funding support for the government’s conditional cash transfer program to the very poor.

Hofman said the increase was approved last week at the annual meeting in Washington of the WB and International Monetary Fund with the Philippines’ economic team.

“This is an affirmation that even in this short period of time, we are delivering on our anti-poverty and anti-corruption efforts,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said.

“It’s also a slap in the face of some our critics.”

Carandang said positive developments would be the best way to counter criticisms against the Aquino administration.

Earlier, President Aquino said confidence was back in the Philippines as indicated by the strong peso, the bullish stock market, and other significant economic developments .

Hoffman said the Aquino government “has started a lot of initiatives that we believe are good for poverty alleviation and making growth work for the poor.”

“Transparency makes us comfortable about the use of our money,” Hoffman said.

Noy set to cast vote in Tarlac By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated October 24, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino said yesterday he would vote in Tarlac City tomorrow, even as Malacañang warned candidates against vote buying through various forms of assistance.

The President also cast his vote at precinct 175-A of the Central Azucarera Elementary School in San Miguel, Tarlac during the May presidential elections.

Mr. Aquino refused to say whom he would vote for since barangay elections should be “non-partisan.”

At the Palace, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte called on the people to exercise their civic duty and vote wisely.

Valte said voters should shun those who were allegedly using conditional cash transfers or other government sources to win in the coming elections.

She also urged the public to report these candidates to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Elections for appropriate action.

“We must not allow those who do not walk the right path to use our program,” Valte said over radio station dzRB.

She said there were many avenues to forward complaints to authorities, including social networking sites.

Valte also said voters should not belittle the coming elections because the barangay is “the basic political unit” and the nearest to the people, especially for those who would need immediate help.

“Our involvement in barangay activities is also empowerment not just to our community but also to the national government, because if we participate on this level, there are many things that we can do. So let us not disregard our right to choose our barangay leaders,” she said.

Valte also said voters should evaluate the candidates because there had been reports of corruption even at the barangay level and that those who were supposed to serve only ended up using the people’s money.

Noy’s bible bearer gunning for third term

Meanwhile, President Aquino’s bible bearer during his oath taking wants to finish his third term as barangay chairman and continue the progress he has started in his place.

Eugenio Cau Perez is running for chairman of Barangay Sinait against Felicisimo Dugue.

The said barangay, with a population of 4,000 and 1,200 registered voters, became popular after Perez was chosen to participate during the President’s oath taking.

Among Perez’s accomplishments during his two terms were the two-storey barangay hall which used to be made of nipa before he assumed office, the covered court and multi-purpose hall, several road concreting projects and the construction of a dike that protects his barangay from flooding of Tarlac river during rainy season.

He said 85 percent of his constituents depend on agricultural crops and thanks to modern technology they were able to produce good harvest, better than they expected.

His constituents believed that Perez could be a contender for the presidency of the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC).

However, Perez said he has no intention of running for the ABC presidency and would rather concentrate on the welfare of his barangay and his constituents. – With Ric Sapnu

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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