NOYNOY SPENDS HOLIDAYS WITH FAMILY, CLOSE RELATIVES & FRIENDS


MANILA, DECEMBER 31, 2010
(STAR) By Aurea Calica, Delon Porcalla - President Aquino said he would spend time with family during the holidays but was mum on whether he would have a date.

He said there would be reunions with the Aquinos and Cojuangcos even as meetings and official engagements would also continue.

Yesterday was set for the Aquinos, after which his sisters and their families would be joining him for the Christmas Eve celebration.

Pinky Abellada said earlier that she and her sisters would visit the President, their only unmarried sibling.

Asked whether the President was also experience the “holiday blues” being single, Abellada quipped: “You’re fishing (for information).”

Today, the President said he would meet with the Cojuangcos and again with his sisters and their families.

He said he was also scheduled to have meetings, visit an orphanage and government employees who would be on duty such as policemen and soldiers.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development also prepared an activity for him. But Malacañang declared the President’s schedule was “private.”

The President said he was very happy with the good news he has been getting about improvements and positive developments in the country, and that the wrinkles on his forehead have lessened if not disappeared.

“When I was in the Senate, my brow was like this,” he told The STAR, indicating a deeply furrowed brow.

But he has not been able to go out and buy personal gifts for his sisters because much of the time would be spent posing for photographs with people if he would go to a mall.

“So I don’t attempt (to go out) anymore,” Aquino said.

Aquino had eight meetings on Thursday and said these meetings would continue until the New Year, although he hoped to have some time to rest before welcoming 2011.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters that Aquino has six official engagements, including a lunch date with his sisters and their families at the Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang Park.

Aquino said the job of a chief executive is 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

When asked if Aquino would be meeting with his rumored date, stockbroker Len Lopez, Lacierda said the best person to ask would be the President’s youngest sister, television talk show host Kris.

He said he is not aware if Lopez will join any of Aquino’s Christmas gatherings.

Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Office for Strategic Planning and Development said Aquino deserves to have a holiday break.

“I personally feel that the President should be given a Christmas day off to spend with his family. But that’s his decision and he hasn’t made a decision on that yet. As far as I know, the schedule on the 25th has not been finalized,” Carandang said.

“Definitely he’ll be with his family and close friends, whether or not he’s going to have any official functions is something that is being discussed by the office,” he added.

Lopez reportedly attended the Christmas party of the Cabinet members last Dec. 15 at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang, which Lacierda confirmed but Carandang was unsure of.

“Wala naman si Lacierda duon,” said Carandang, who noted that there were three female guests present but he was uncertain if one of them was Lopez, especially since the President didn’t introduce her to him.

“I won’t confirm or deny because there were some people there na hindi ko kilala. Iyung isa duon parang kamukha niya (that I don’t know. One of them sort of looks like her) but I’m not sure if it was her,” Carandang pointed out.

Aquino’s sister Kris said that her only brother introduced Lopez to all of them – Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and herself – and that she was impressed with how svelte Len was.

“I don’t think he would be mad that I confirmed that he’s dating Len because she’s not a public person. She works in a private industry. In the spirit of Christmas, maybe we could give him the gift of privacy until January,” Kris added.

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 'OFFICIAL GAZETTE'

AMBUSH INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT BENIGNO S. AQUINO III

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENT AQUINO: [unclear] but we have discussed the parameters where we agreed to cooperate. Iyong issue sa sovereignty saka iyong protection of our citizens is paramount.

Q: Sir, do you agree with her na dapat po hindi lahat ng witnesses ipadala sa Hong Kong?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong siguro iyong hundred something pero I don’t know if there’s really a need of that many at saka siyempre kung pupuwede dito na ma-interview ng inquest proceedings I think it will be better (unclear).

Q: Sir, will we invoke MLAT sir, for the Hong Kong inquest?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think there was a treaty that I just forwarded to the Senate talking about the iyong nga iyong mutual—I’m sorry,I forgot the complete name of—[Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty]. Pero, that has to be ratified with the Senate, if I’m not mistaken. That’s one of the ten that we sent back.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENT AQUINO: No, with China.

Q: Sir, what will be the expectations of the people this New Year? And do you have a New Year’s resolution

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Iyong expectations, if you remember, we went to a company called Convergys not too long ago. Na-open iyong new facility in San Lazaro. That first day they had to acquire a new office, a new floor, in addition to the one that they had contracted out. And I think just two days ago, I met somebody who said, you remember that building they have now to occupy two other floors and they now have a total of eight in a period of months. So, in that, I think is a total reference of what we should be expecting. The unemployment rate, the underemployment rates are all improving. Your solution of strike in a nearby place here in Pangarap, for instance, has also been done expeditiously. So, we are hoping that the economy really, really moves. Those disturbances in the other portion of the world economy will be mitigated and will have little effects on us and we can really have that take off by next year. Substantial portion of it felt by [unclear].

Q: Sir, may resolution ho ba kayo?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Kung mayroon pang paraan na madagdagan pa iyong ginagawa natin sana mahanap natin iyong lakas para magawa iyon to that extent magkakaroon na tayo ng exercise…regular, I’m taking up biking.

Q: [off mic]

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Palagay ko naman ho. Tingnan po ninyo iyong ano – sorry, ang dami-daming sabay-sabay na pumapasok sa isip natin. Tingnan ninyo iyong sa budget natin. November ni-report na ni Secretary Abad na tayo po ay nagka-surplus halos kalahating bilyon na pino-project iyong mga anim na bilyon yata ang deficit dapat. Tapos, biglang nai-reverse niya. At hindi ho nakuha iyon dahil naghigpit tayo ng sinturon. Iyong mga dapat pondohan ay hindi pinondohan para lang magkaroon ng window dressing. Napondohan po nang sapat lahat ng kailangang mapondohan; nagkaroon pa ng surplus. Eh, kung sa masinop na pagbubuno ng pera, ‘di lahat ng pangangailangan ng taumbayan ay makakamtan natin sa lalong madaling panahon. Nadadama naman po yata iyan maski papaano sa ngayon. Siguro sa calamities na dumaan sa atin, naramdaman ng tao kung gaano kabilis kumilos ang gobyerno—gaano kakongkreto. Itong pagtaya ng ating PAGASA na maganda ang huling tatlong araw, tama nanaman po sila. So, marami pong aspeto. Iyong bus strike na diumano, naka-discomfort nang kaunti, pero naipakita po natin gaano tayo kaseryoso. Hindi puwedeng ginaganoon ang taumbayan. So, iyong pagiging hopeful, palagay ko naman po may base at sa pagtutulungan nating lahat, lalo nating mapapabilis iyan. Ngayon napag-iisip na nga po ako. Kung minsan, iyong ating good news ay medyo natatabunan nang husto, pero mararamdaman at mararamdaman ng taumbayan iyan.

Q: Sir, ano iyong spending priorities natin next year, especially in the first quarter with the budget?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Actually, lahat ganado, kapag sinabi mong priority. Nag-umpisa kami, [unclear] six years will not be enough to do everything that we have to do. Pero may hinahabol tayong madama nga iyong pagbabago na magkaroon ng sobrang momentum na ipagpapatuloy kung sino ang susunod. So, to that end, ang pagkaintindi ko, ang DepEd gusto nang umpisahan iyong paggawa ng, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, 13,000 classroom. Mag-uumpisa sa pagha-hire ng mga teachers. Iyong DOH kausap ko po about two days ago, pinag-uusapan nga po natin iyon pangangailangan kung saan kukunin at nakahanap nga po kami ng kakailanganin nila.

Q: [inaudible]

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Natatandaan ninyo? Ang priority dito ay iyong PPP—ang gagawa ng ating mga infrastructure to a large degree; iyong social concerns ang talagang pag-uukulan ng budget. So, iyon nga ang pinag-uusapan naming. Nagagalak po ako at may savings tayo para mapondohan iyong kakailanganin ng Department of Health na dagdag. The project will entail deploying nurses in Rural Health Units to become, in effect, iyong midwife positions na marami tayong pangangailangan. Tinatapos lang po nila iyong mga pgsusuri na sumusunod tayo sa lahat po ng batas, pati na po iyong DOLE, saka ng DOJ rin. At pagkatapos po noon ay pupunta na tayo sa implementation. Pero iyong pinakamalaking bahagi po doon, iyon perang gagamitin para suwelduhan ho at mabigyan ng allowances itong kakulangan natin sa health practitioners ay nandiyan.

Q: Sir, dito lang po kayo magnew-new year sa Manila?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: The first plan, ang dami kong backlog doon sa materials that have to be read. Dinagdagan pa kasi nitong panahon na ito iyong year end reports. Pinag-ukulan ng pansin iyon at ayoko namang hindi mabasa isa-isa iyon. Eh, medyo ang usapan po sa tanggapan namin na iyon ay by the foot na po iyong mga files—iyong kapal. So, hinahabol ko pong mga 2/3 of it, may 2/3 akong gustong habulin pang tapusin at para maaksyunan nga natin mga dapat maaksyunan. Kung saan po ako magkakaroon ng kaunting katahimikan para makahabol naman po doon sa backlog.

Q: Sir, iyong Ulat ng Bayan, matutuloy?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Well, I am mandated. Siyempre sa SONA talaga. Sa Ulat, I think, let me just finish all of these things that I have to go through. Ayokong madagdagan, as the day goes on, dumadagdag iyong backlog. One thing that I wasn’t anticipating—nakalimutan ko—mayroon nga palang year end report by every agency under me.

Q: Sir, ano po ang action natin doon sa panibagong seven na pinoy na hawak ng mga pirata?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Tuloy-tuloy po iyan, pero may limitations tayo sa magagawa natin. We can send our Navy, for instance, to protect that portion dahil kulang tayo sa ating kasangkapan. Ngayon, tuloy-tuloy po iyong DFA as the lead agency na nakikipag-coordinate sa mga kinauukulan para masigurado iyong kaligtasan po nila. Iyong bagong pito—mayroong kare-release—nakalimutan ko lang kung ilan iyong bilang. Hindi lang naman po problema ng Pilipinas iyan. Problema po ng buong mundo. Nakalimutan ko iyong pangalan ng stream na napakakitid at saka pagka-failed state ng Somalia ay talagang damay-damay ang buong mundo sa probelamang iyan. So, tayo po ay nagko-cooperate at ako po ay may kumpiyansa na iyong DFA. At saka iyong DOLE ay talaga namang hindi tumitigil na aksyunan iyong kondisyon ng ating mga kababayan na nabibiktima ng mga piratang ito.

Q: Sir, how would you sum your first six months of office, could you say that it’s like…

PRESIDENT AQUINO: At the end of the time, parang iyong certain sectors nararamdaman na po iyong like talaga, baka iyong warmth of the new beginning. Itong araw lang po na ito, papunta dito, may nagsasabi sa akin na, kung ginagawa ninyo iyong dapat gawin at maraming naghaharang, hindi magagawa iyan. Pero mayroon pa ring mga kulang. Kailangang magmamasigasig po tayo na iyong kailangan naman natin lalo na sa hudikatura eh, mangyari po within the bounds of the Constitution.

Q: Iyon pong Supreme Court, they said that they are not singling you out?

PRESIDENT AQUINO: Siguro the Spokesperson could address this. Ulitin ko lang, we set up a commission to study a particular problem. There is an allegation na systemic ang naging problema in the past administration. Ano ba ang pinagkaiba noon, iyong ginawa for instance ni President Estrada when he set up the Saguisag Commission to study sa EXPO, one particular project of the entire Ramos administration. Mrs? Arroyo herself set up, I think not less than five and probably more commissions to study various problem. Sa atin ho, there is allegation of widespread corruption and we did come up with the same, pati terminology, a commission to study and submit recommendations if there were any issues involved. Sasabihin naman siguro—hindi ako abogado—kaya hindi ko naiintidihan, pero paano po iba iyon doon sa lahat na umiral bago sa amin. So, kami po, ginagawa namin iyan. Palagay namin mayroon kaming mga precedents na nandiyan lang. Ulitin ko nga, alam naman nila iyong problema na sa adjudication sa ating bansa. May study po na sila ang gumawa sa Supreme Court funded by the World Bank, six years to finish a case or at least to have the initial decision. Itong pagde-delay na ito paano makakatulong na magkakaroon tayo ng resolution. Kaya naman po tinatanong natin.

Q: Sir, magkakaroon na po ng JELAC next month.

PRESIDENT AQUINO: I think it will be the LEDAC that will be first before the JELAC.

ENDS

Rizal National Monument, Rizal Park, Manila

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