[PHOTO - NOYNOYING? Heavy load President Benigno Aquino III is all set to attend a series of meetings in the Palace after examining documents at the Private Office in Malacañang.]

MANILA, MARCH 19, 2012 (GULF NEWS ONLINE) By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief Published: 15:16 March 20, 2012

New form of protest called Noynoying "does not merit attention", says Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino said he should not be criticised for "Noynoying," a term used to describe protesters at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City when they laid on the road last week, looking bored to portray an inactive leader, a local paper reported.

"I have all the statistics (to prove that I am not Noynoying)," Aquino, whose nickname is Noynoy, told the Inquirer in Baguio City.

"I've been in office for 21 months and the record (of the stock exchange index) was broken 21 times," Aquino said.

Mall goers are not just malling, they buy and carry packages, Aquino said to prove that the Philippine economy is improving.

"The construction industry (fuelled by the private sector) is booming," said Aquino, following criticism that he has stalled government infrastructure projects.

He did not mention job creation for some four million new graduates.

"When we started out (in mid-2010), given the enormity of the problems [we found], we thought two years minimum before you start sensing things are changing. But I think it's already happening," Aquino said, adding, "I will just try to do what is right and what I think would give results."

Describing his critics, Aquino said, "How can one show something to a person who does not want to see, or make him listen when he does not want to listen?"

Noynoying "does not merit attention," he concluded.

In defense of Aquino, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad also told the Inquirer that Aquino's campaign against corruption will affect poverty reduction and job creation.

The term used to describe Aquino was a mere personal attack, Abad said.

However, Congressman Raymond Palatino of Kabataan, a sectoral party, said, "Noynoying will be ignored by the public if it doesn't have a basis."

"Noynoying is no longer an activist initiative (against Aquino), it has been readily embraced and popularized by the public, especially netizens," Palatino said, adding the "the public, not us activists" popularised the word.

The groups that coined the word Noynoying were "merely expressing the growing discontent of the public regarding the President's performance on economic issues," explained Congressman Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, a sectoral party at the House of Representatives.

"It has gained currency with the public because it perfectly captures their frustration with P-Noy' (Aquino's other name)," said Tinio.

Aquino wants higher taxes imposed on mining firms By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief Published: 15:09 March 20, 2012 

[PHOTO - 'The Philippine government intends to impose far heavier taxes and tougher environmental restrictions on the mining industry', President Benigno Aquino said Tuesday: President Benigno Aquino gestures as he speaks during an interview with AFP at Malacanang Palace in Manila on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Aquino said the government was trying to arrive at a fair percentage of revenues from mining firms. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE]

Philippine president says he is studying a proposal to raise revenue sharing between mining firms and government.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino called for higher taxes and royalty from mining firms, adding he is studying a proposal to raise revenue sharing between mining firms and the government, a local paper said.

"We want to ensure we get a fair share (from mining firms…because this will) maximise the utility of the resource for our people," Aquino told the Inquirer.

The government has been receiving two-percent (excise) tax from mining firms. "This takes care of everything that might happen if there is a disaster," Aquino explained.

At the same time, various figures were proposed regarding royalty from mining firms, said Aquino, who did not give details.

There are proposals to expand the implementation of the proposed five per cent royalty under existing regulations for mines operating in mineral reservations, explained Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

Currently, 11 of 31 medium and large scale mining companies have been paying five-percent royalty on top of the two percent excise tax under existing laws, Paje said. He did not identify the percentage of proposed royalty the government wants from mining firms.

With regards revenue sharing, there were proposals for a 50-50 per cent sharing of earnings between the government and the mining firms, said Aquino, adding that nothing has been decided yet.

The proposed revenue sharing is a major point of contention, said Paje, but did not give more details.

Moreover, there were 78 eco-tourism sites where mining will not be allowed, said Aquino, adding the tourism department has identified these sites.

"It will be too much of a risk (if mining is allowed in these areas), given the fact that they (at the tourism department) just reported that we're on track to surpass the growth in tourism arrivals," said Aquino.

The government has no policy of banning mining in the Philippines, said Aquino, adding the government will also allow the proliferation of small-scale mining.

"They (those who are drafting the proposed executive order on mining) tell me that they are very close to submitting it to me for final approval," Aquino said.

Aquino led earlier a meeting attended by department and government agency representatives to discuss the executive order that will spell out the government's mining policy.

Complaints were raised by mining leaders after several drafts of the proposed executive order were leaked to various sources.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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