P-NOY DEFENDS EMERGENCY POWERS 

SEPT 13 --President Aquino defended yesterday his move to seek emergency powers from Congress to address an impending power shortage, saying he could not afford to take chances in the face of dwindling energy reserves and threats of El Niño. “Right now, we’re pushing for just about every scheme to prevent blackouts. Our reason is, if there is indeed shortage in electricity, it’s best to have a ready source of power instead of just waiting for solutions to come when the problem strikes,” Aquino told a gathering of political allies in the ruling coalition at Malacañang.

“There is threat from El Niño, and this will surely affect the operations of plants dependent on water. If we don’t act now, there will be shortage of energy in Luzon during summer,” he told allies led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon. Belmonte, for his part, said whatever emergency powers Aquino gets would be clearly defined and limited to the duration of a crisis to prevent abuse. Belmonte and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy, said they want Malacañang to explain clearly what kind of help it wants from Congress in averting a power crisis.

The Speaker said the chamber hopes a “clear explanation and concrete plans” will be forthcoming soon from Malacañang even as members of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) met on Thursday – the second meeting this week – to discuss Aquino’s request for emergency powers. Also in the meeting aside from Umali were JCPC chairman Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and representatives from business groups, including the Federation of Philippine Industries and the Management Association of the Philippines. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy off to Europe, US tonight  

SEPTEMBER 13 --President Aquino leaves tonight for Spain for the first leg of his four-nation trip to Europe and later to the United States. From Spain, the President will proceed to Brussels, Belgium, and then to Paris, France. He will be in Berlin, Germany later in the week. Aquino’s visit to France will be the first for a Philippine head of state since 1994, the French embassy in Manila announced yesterday.

After his European trip, the President will fly to the United States where he will stay in New York and Boston. His US visit will last until Sept. 26. Accompanying the President on his trip to Europe and the US are 10 Cabinet secretaries as well as representatives from Philippine business groups. The French embassy said the President – on his arrival in Paris – will be welcomed with military honors at the Arc de Triomphe after which he will be ushered to the Elysée Palace for a bilateral meeting with French President François Hollande. *READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy arrives in Spain  

SEPT 14 --MADRID – President Aquino arrives here today for the first leg of his European trip, during which he aims to push for various concerns, including the West Philippine Sea dispute, trade and investment, as well as issues concerning overseas Filipino workers. Aquino and his delegation are expected to arrive in the morning at Torrejon Airbase on chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR 001. The President is set to meet with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the Intercontinental Hotel and then lead a wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument. He will also speak before the Filipino community at Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas and then hold various business meetings with Grupo Actividades de Construction y Servicios, Abengoa, Calidad Pascual, Ineco, Globalvia, Acciona and Indra at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Tomorrow, Aquino will have a bilateral meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at Palacio de la Moncloa and get an audience with King Felipe VI at Palacio de la Zarzuela. He will then proceed to Belgium for the second leg of his trip, and then to Paris and Berlin later in the week. Aquino’s visit to France will be the first for a Philippine head of state since 1994. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy eyes bigger EU market for Phl  

PHOTO: President Aquino is welcomed at the Torrejon Airbase in Madrid yesterday by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas and Juan Sunye, deputy chief of protocol of the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs. MADRID — President Aquino’s trip here as well as in Belgium, France and Germany is meant to persuade Europeans to open their doors wider for the Philippines so that more Filipino products and workers can come into the continent. The Philippines applied to be included in the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which would allow the country to enjoy more tariff reductions for goods entering the bloc. Should the Philippines qualify for EU GSP+ status, the country’s exports to the EU are expected to rise as more products are allowed to enter at zero duty.

Currently, the Philippines is a beneficiary of the regular GSP, which covers 6,209 products, with 2,442 products subject to zero duty and the rest slapped with lower tariffs. The EU GSP+ covers 6,274 products and Philippine Ambassador to Belgium Victoria Bataclan said they included fisheries, fishery products, garments, and even umbrellas. Bataclan said there were a lot of requirements, including adherence to human rights, and it would be good for the President to personally explain the efforts being exerted by the Philippines to comply with these requirements. “We have limited exports... Example I think is in the case of tuna products, it is 21 percent tariff, under GSP plus it will be zero. So you can imagine the great benefit... to the exporters. Those are the kinds of GSP plus benefits that we will have. The estimate is for the next three years... close to $700 million of more trade will accrue to us if we finally get this approval,” Bataclan said. The President, according to Bataclan, will also assure the European nations that the Philippines is addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) to keep the country’s fisheries exports, including tuna, in the European market. *READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino tells why he’s open to 2nd term  

SEPT 14 --So, which is it, Mr. President? President Benigno Aquino III opened another vein of endless speculation when he again hinted at entertaining thoughts of running for a second term, telling leaders of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and their allies in Malacañang on Friday that he was “slightly open” to the idea of extending his term of office beyond 2016.

But then he coyly said that he was hoping that he would not be the administration presidential candidate in 2016. Was he being serious or was it just a ploy to avoid becoming a lame duck?
In a wide-ranging interview with the Inquirer, Mr. Aquino admitted that it was “all of that,” meaning all of the reasons given. Apart from not wanting the gains of his administration to go to waste, Mr. Aquino said he also wanted to fend off those who want to destabilize his administration, flush out the aspirants for the presidency in 2016 and fight those who want to make him a lame duck.

“If I close the door (to an extension) now, it will embolden these people who want to destabilize [the government],” the President said. Citing the second antipork barrel protest and information supposedly obtained from the opposition grapevine, Mr. Aquino said his detractors were predicting his downfall after the Supreme Court ruled his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional in July. “The feedback my sisters got is that they (detractors) were predicting I would last only six months after the DAP,” the President said. And contrary to what armchair analysts say, the President said there was still time to amend the Constitution, even the political provisions on term limits that would make it possible for him to run for a second term.

“I might do even better in a second term,” he said. Guarding reforms --The President first broached the idea of seeking a second term in a television interview last month. His move was criticized as running counter to the legacy of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who is largely credited for returning democracy to the country following the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and shunning any move to stay in power beyond her term. *READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy tells allies he’s not seeking reelection’  

SEPT 15 --President Aquino has told allies that he is not seeking reelection despite endorsements from his supporters, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said Saturday night. “He has already categorically said that he is not running for a second term,” said Marañon, who attended a meeting of members of the ruling coalition, which was called by Aquino at Malacañang last Friday. Political allies from the Liberal Party, local and national supporters, members of civil society, non-government organizations and even members of militant organizations attended the meeting.

The President also asked the officials to unite to pursue the change that has been started by his administration. Aquino’s statement came after speculations spread out that he is running for re- election through Charter change pushed by some of his allies. Under the present Constitution, the president has only one term of six years without re- election. Marañon also said the President has not yet endorsed any possible presidential candidate of the Liberal Party in the 2016 election. “The President said that it’s not yet time to endorse any possible presidential candidate of the administration party,” Marañon said. Presidential aspirant and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was present during Aquino’s meeting with his supporters. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Cabinet shake-up sought by solons  

Lawmakers are demanding a revamp of the Aquino Cabinet since some of its members are deemed to be non-performing assets or have been accused of misuse of public funds. The revamp-call targets Secretaries Florencio Abad (Budget), Corazon Soliman (Social Welfare), Proceso Alcala (Agriculture) and even General Alan Purisima (National Police). Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said that Abad and Purisima should resign despite President Benigno Aquino III’s continuing defense that they did not commit any wrong doing. “Abad and Purisima should go. They are not only non-performing, they are also accused of being involved in questionable deals, projects and policies,” Bello said. Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said a Cabinet revamp should have been done by the President a long ago.

“But President Aquino has this mistaken notion that firing his men is an admission of mistake – a grievous act that he is not capable of doing or he is not supposed to be doing under the ‘Matuwid na Daan’,” Zarate said. Zarate said the President’s refusal to fire his ‘non-performing and controversial’ Cabinet people was among the reasons why corruption persists in government. Abad has been embroiled in controversies of late, foremost of which was the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court. Last July, Abad tendered his resignation to the President which the Chief Executive did not accept, as he said that “to accept his (Abad’s) resignation is to assign to him a wrong.” “I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” the President said. Purisima, on the other hand, was recently taken to task for command responsibility over the P2 million robbery-abduction along Edsa in Mandaluyong City last Sept. 1, where 10 policemen were later identified as suspects.

Still, President Aquino stood by Purisima, saying that it was not right to dismiss Purisima from his post as he “leads the police force and does his job dutifully.” Purisima also became controversial over the P25-million cost of the renovation of the Philippine National Police’s ‘White House’, the official residence of the PNP chief at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Earlier, militant lawmakers led by Rep. Neri Colmenares also demanded the resignation of Alcala for alleged anomalies in the agriculture sector. Meanwhile, a member of the same bloc demanded that Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman take a leave of absence for “gross incompetence and negligence” in the handling of aid for the victims of Yolanda and other calamities that hit the country last year. *READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

P-Noy defends need for emergency powers MANILA, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2014 - 12:00am 2 89 googleplus0 2

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino defended yesterday his move to seek emergency powers from Congress to address an impending power shortage, saying he could not afford to take chances in the face of dwindling energy reserves and threats of El Niño.

“Right now, we’re pushing for just about every scheme to prevent blackouts. Our reason is, if there is indeed shortage in electricity, it’s best to have a ready source of power instead of just waiting for solutions to come when the problem strikes,” Aquino told a gathering of political allies in the ruling coalition at Malacañang.

“There is threat from El Niño, and this will surely affect the operations of plants dependent on water. If we don’t act now, there will be shortage of energy in Luzon during summer,” he told allies led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon.

Belmonte, for his part, said whatever emergency powers Aquino gets would be clearly defined and limited to the duration of a crisis to prevent abuse.

Belmonte and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House committee on energy, said they want Malacañang to explain clearly what kind of help it wants from Congress in averting a power crisis.

The Speaker said the chamber hopes a “clear explanation and concrete plans” will be forthcoming soon from Malacañang even as members of the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) met on Thursday – the second meeting this week – to discuss Aquino’s request for emergency powers.

Also in the meeting aside from Umali were JCPC chairman Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and representatives from business groups, including the Federation of Philippine Industries and the Management Association of the Philippines.

* The government estimates a shortfall of at least 300 megawatts this summer.

“We cannot afford a power crisis, that’s something we all agree on, we should protect our economy. But we must have clear definitions and parameters on (emergency powers)… as it is, there could be ways we can deal with it without resorting to emergency powers,” Umali, JCPC vice chair, said in a telephone interview.

DOE clueless

Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano, a member of the minority bloc, said the Department of Energy appeared to have no clear details on what it wants.

“The buck should not be passed to the President every time there is a crisis. Let the department go to Congress and ask for anything they want, whether they want to pass a law or a regulation,” Albano said.

Umali had earlier asked the government to utilize “the cheaper and quicker” source of power embedded in various industries to cover the shortfall. Some large firms and industries have their own generating plants that are idle most of the time.

He said energy officials estimate that only about 140 MW can be tapped from private sources but by his calculations – as supported by some business groups – the available power could range from 300 MW to as much as 800 MW, or more than enough to cover the shortfall.

The JCPC, with the help of the DOE and business groups, is reviewing the numbers to avoid “double counting” of generating capacities, he said.

He said tapping power from local private industries will cost the government only about P100 million to P200 million, which is much lower than the P14 billion taxpayers will shoulder to pay for power barges or generators Petilla insists the government should contract once Aquino gets his emergency powers.

He said the JCPC is trying to work out a scheme with the private industries to contribute power in exchange for reasonable compensation.

“Icot (Petilla) wants to contract power from the outside but we have enough embedded power,” Umali said, adding the energy chief is asking lawmakers to grant the emergency powers by the end of the month.

“I told him that (emergency powers within the month) could be wishful thinking because we still have the budget and the (proposed) Bangsamoro (Basic Law),” he said. The proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015 is set for plenary deliberations next week.

Insurance

Umali said Petilla told the JCPC that the emergency powers resolution was just for “insurance” and may not be exercised at all if things turn out well.

He said the chamber would likely craft the resolution in such a way that the scope of authority would be well-defined by Congress, probably including certain ceilings on the power to be contracted to curb possible abuses.

“But of course, we will have to give the executive branch enough flexibility to deal with the situation,” he said.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, who earlier filed a resolution to grant Aquino emergency powers, said Congress should heed the President’s request.

“This contracting of additional capacity should be complemented by other measures that can be done even if Congress does not pass a joint resolution,” Evardone said.

Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo, vice chairman of the House energy committee, said Aquino’s request for emergency powers is supported by Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

“Upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve,” Quimbo said, quoting a provision in the EPIRA law.

He stressed emergency powers must be limited in scope and duration.

“We must not allow it to last beyond the period during which the emergency exists and cannot reach into other areas that are not in any way connected to solving the emergency,” he said. “In short, it must be limited and temporary.”

Senators in favor

Senators also aired their support for Aquino’s request for emergency powers.

Senators JV Ejercito and Francis Escudero said that while they are in favor of granting emergency powers to the President, safeguards must be set in place so as to avoid what happened during the Ramos administration.

“I am willing to support granting of emergency powers to avert an energy crisis. We just have to put necessary safeguards to make sure that abuse of the emergency powers like the one during Ramos’ time will not happen,” Ejercito said.

In 1993, then President Fidel Ramos was given emergency powers by Congress to address the power crisis. He used such powers to tap the services of several independent power producers.

The IPPs were given several incentives, including a guarantee by the government that their output would be purchased even if demand was low.

“I am open to support it but will make sure that the mistakes and shortcomings of the emergency powers given to then President Ramos will be avoided and adequate safeguards put in place,” Escudero said.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III also aired his support for emergency powers for the president.

Caution

For militant party-list representatives, however, emergency powers for the President might entail “sweetheart deals, corruption, take or pay and high electricity rates.”

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said these are among the anomalies that happened after Congress granted then President Ramos special powers to solve the energy crisis.

“The President asked for emergency powers just like Republic Act 7648 during Ramos’ time and the essence of this power is to ask Congress for authority to enter into negotiated contracts for additional generating capacity,” he said.

“But up till now, the Department of Energy (DOE) has not sufficiently laid out the reason for emergency powers because as their own data show, there is enough power supply,” he added.

Colmenares pointed out that based on DOE’s own figures, installed capacity for the Luzon grid is 12,790 MW while dependable capacity is 11,469 MW.

“The peak demand for the grid is just 8,700 MW, with Meralco using 6,121 MW. This means that there is excess electricity supply in Luzon,” he pointed out.

Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap said that instead of granting Aquino emergency powers, Congress should repeal the EPIRA, “which caused the unreliability of power supply in the country and the high cost of electricity.”

He said because of EPIRA, the Philippines has become notorious for having one of the highest powers rates in the world.

“There was no single mention of a power crisis or power shortage in the government’s Philippine Energy Plan 2012-2030. Why the mad rush now for emergency powers?” he asked.

Rep. Antonio Tinio of Alliance of Concerned Teachers said a president who has been publicly criticized by the Supreme Court for acts that the tribunal deemed unconstitutional should not be trusted with emergency powers.

“Congress must find another way to solve the power crisis,” he said. With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy, Jess Diaz

Noy off to Europe, US tonight By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 13, 2014 - 12:00am 10 37 googleplus0 1

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino leaves tonight for Spain for the first leg of his four-nation trip to Europe and later to the United States.

From Spain, the President will proceed to Brussels, Belgium, and then to Paris, France. He will be in Berlin, Germany later in the week.

Aquino’s visit to France will be the first for a Philippine head of state since 1994, the French embassy in Manila announced yesterday.

After his European trip, the President will fly to the United States where he will stay in New York and Boston. His US visit will last until Sept. 26.

Accompanying the President on his trip to Europe and the US are 10 Cabinet secretaries as well as representatives from Philippine business groups.

The French embassy said the President – on his arrival in Paris – will be welcomed with military honors at the Arc de Triomphe after which he will be ushered to the Elysée Palace for a bilateral meeting with French President François Hollande.

* The two heads of state will witness the signing of agreements on culture, education, transportation and communications, among others.

The two leaders will issue a joint communiqué before lunch to be hosted by Hollande.

Following the meeting with Hollande, Aquino will proceed to the Hotel Matignon later in the afternoon for bilateral talks with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

In the morning of Sept. 18 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Aquino will formally open the Philippines-France Business Council organized by the Mouvement des entreprises de France (MEDEF) International and the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry.

MEDEF International is a non-profit private-funded organization comprising over 4,000 French companies operating all over the world. A delegation from MEDEF International was in Manila last April for a business forum organized by the French embassy in the Philippines and the Philippine embassy in France.

Aquino will then proceed to the Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), a Paris-based think tank, to deliver a policy speech.

“Today, we are witnessing an exciting phase in bilateral relations between France and the Philippines,” said French Ambassador Gilles Garachon on Aquino’s visit to France.

“We are riding a momentum of increased cooperation between our two countries, which started when then-Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited the Philippines in 2012,” he said.

The former prime minister was the first French head of government to make an official visit to the Philippines since diplomatic relations with France were formalized.

“President Aquino’s trip to France, as well as to the other European countries and to the European Union, shows the existing partnership between our governments, as well as the continuing friendship between our peoples,” Garachon added.

P-Noy arrives in Spain By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 14, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MADRID – President Aquino arrives here today for the first leg of his European trip, during which he aims to push for various concerns, including the West Philippine Sea dispute, trade and investment, as well as issues concerning overseas Filipino workers.

Aquino and his delegation are expected to arrive in the morning at Torrejon Airbase on chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR 001.

The President is set to meet with former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar at the Intercontinental Hotel and then lead a wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument.

He will also speak before the Filipino community at Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas and then hold various business meetings with Grupo Actividades de Construction y Servicios, Abengoa, Calidad Pascual, Ineco, Globalvia, Acciona and Indra at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Tomorrow, Aquino will have a bilateral meeting with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at Palacio de la Moncloa and get an audience with King Felipe VI at Palacio de la Zarzuela.

He will then proceed to Belgium for the second leg of his trip, and then to Paris and Berlin later in the week. Aquino’s visit to France will be the first for a Philippine head of state since 1994.

* The Philippines is the only country that receives official development assistance from Spain because of the two countries’ shared history and special friendship.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the President will discuss the lifting of tariffs on Philippine goods entering Europe. Aquino will also bring up before European leaders the efforts of Manila to comply with rules on the exportation of fish and fish products, as well as the welfare of the Filipino seamen.

Aquino will seek support for the country’s position on the West Philippine Sea and on Mindanao peace and development.

The Philippines has been calling on other countries to back the Philippines in its push for a peaceful resolution of its territorial and maritime dispute with China.

US next

After his European trip, Aquino will fly to the US where he is set to address the UN General Assembly in New York on the severe impact of climate change in the world.

He will have a speaking engagement at Harvard University in Boston.

It has been 33 years since the Aquino family’s exile in Boston. The President was then 21 years old.

Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said the President’s meetings with European and US leaders would further polish the country’s image and attract investors.

Accompanying the President on his trip to Europe and the US are 10 Cabinet secretaries – including Coloma – as well as representatives from Philippine business groups.

The French embassy said on Friday military honors await Aquino at the Arc de Triomphe.

The President would later be led to the Elysée Palace for a bilateral meeting with French President François Hollande, as well as to witness the signing of agreements on culture, education, transportation and communications, among others. – Delon Porcalla, Pia Lee Brago

Noy eyes bigger EU market for Phl By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 15, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


President Aquino is welcomed at the Torrejon Airbase in Madrid yesterday by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas and Juan Sunye, deputy chief of protocol of the Spanish ministry of foreign affairs.

MADRID — President Aquino’s trip here as well as in Belgium, France and Germany is meant to persuade Europeans to open their doors wider for the Philippines so that more Filipino products and workers can come into the continent.

The Philippines applied to be included in the European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+), which would allow the country to enjoy more tariff reductions for goods entering the bloc.

Should the Philippines qualify for EU GSP+ status, the country’s exports to the EU are expected to rise as more products are allowed to enter at zero duty.

Currently, the Philippines is a beneficiary of the regular GSP, which covers 6,209 products, with 2,442 products subject to zero duty and the rest slapped with lower tariffs. The EU GSP+ covers 6,274 products and Philippine Ambassador to Belgium Victoria Bataclan said they included fisheries, fishery products, garments, and even umbrellas.

Bataclan said there were a lot of requirements, including adherence to human rights, and it would be good for the President to personally explain the efforts being exerted by the Philippines to comply with these requirements.

“We have limited exports... Example I think is in the case of tuna products, it is 21 percent tariff, under GSP plus it will be zero. So you can imagine the great benefit... to the exporters. Those are the kinds of GSP plus benefits that we will have. The estimate is for the next three years... close to $700 million of more trade will accrue to us if we finally get this approval,” Bataclan said.

The President, according to Bataclan, will also assure the European nations that the Philippines is addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) to keep the country’s fisheries exports, including tuna, in the European market.

* There are no sanctions yet but the European countries would have to be informed of the Philippines’ efforts to comply with their requirements.

Regular audits

In the past years, the EU had been conducting regular audits on the country’s fisheries sector, specifically on compliance to international food safety and fishery regulations.

The audit, which focused on the compliance to the standard on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and the traceability system in line with the IUUF campaign, covered tuna canning and processing companies that were exporting their products to the EU.

“And then of course the plight of our seafarers. We have very good compliance, substantive compliance that’s to make sure that we conform with the third major seafaring nation of the world. And for the EU we have some 80,000 of our seafarers,” Bataclan said.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) Standard of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers team earlier found deficiencies in maritime education and training of Filipino merchant marine officers and ratings but the Philippines was given time to address these upon request of the government.

The Philippines has been given a grace period of six months and needs the support of the big countries in Europe for the country’s seafarers.

A foreign affairs official earlier said the audits are technical rather than political in nature.

“They are expected to be in the country in October to see whether our maritime educational and training institutes are undertaking the necessary reforms; whether MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) is delivering on its oversight functions adequately. And in the case of the IUUF, whether our catch certificate system is of a standard that is acceptable,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Maria Zeneida Angara-Collinson had said.

The EU is the Philippines’ number one source of foreign direct investment and the President also wants more European tourists to visit the country.

The stock investment as of last year was $727 million.

The Aquino administration had embarked on economic diplomacy to also improve and sustain the country’s growth and be seen as the gateway to Southeast Asia especially with the upcoming integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Raising the bar

Visiting Spain for the first time, Aquino had seven meetings with executives of different companies and one with a business community here, aside from the leaders of this country, to serve as a “salesman” for the Philippines and secure investments.

“What we’re trying to do is raise the bar. The Philippines now is a very recognized country in terms of economic growth, as we are enjoying a growth of seven percent, we are in the map, whereas before we were the sick country of Asia. Today, we are not only the ‘Tiger of Asia,’ but we are the ‘Miracle of Asia.’ So that growth... it’s continuing,” said Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas.

Salinas said there were only a handful of Spanish companies in the Philippines when he came here four years ago because there was much distance between the two countries and Spain was focused on Europe and Latin America.

“But now, they realized that Asia is a whole area to reckon with and especially, since the Philippines, we have this ASEAN integration at the end of next year. So it is an opportunity and as we tell the Spanish, when you go to the Philippines to invest, don’t think of the Philippines as a country of 98 million people, think of the Philippines as the base, as the window to Southeast Asia, that is so important,” Salinas said.

Conversely, Spain could be the Philippines’ gateway to Latin America, he added.

There are up to 45,000 Filipinos in Spain and many are working to improve the lives of their families and relatives back home.

“This is the first generation, but what we’re looking at is that, we should really mold the second generation through education (that is) primary, everybody has to have that. That through education, they are going to advance to another possible sector that is going to improve their lives,” Salinas said.

“The Filipinos come here, they sacrifice, why do they come here to sacrifice, to have a better economic package in order to upgrade and uplift the quality of life of their siblings, their family in the Philippines. That is a big sacrifice, I meet the Filipinos here, mostly they are wives, they’re mothers and of course, you know, the children and all that is a big sacrifice. They don’t go until after two years, but they’re doing that because they love their families and I’m sure, if they had the opportunities in the Philippines, they would rather be there but because of the economic concerns, they are here. And that is very important, the sacrifice that they are doing in order to upgrade and uplift the quality of life that they have in the Philippines,” Salinas said.

Serial meetings

Aquino had a business meeting with officials of Acciona, a company engaged in the development and management of infrastructure, renewable energy, water, services, and logistics and transport, and has businesses in financial services, real estate, and wine production.

He also met executives of Abengoa, a company that was founded in 1941 and headquartered in Seville that is engaged in innovative sustainable technology solutions in the energy and environment sectors, generating electricity from renewable sources and producing drinking water from seawater and waste water.

Aquino had a meeting with members of Indra Sistemas, a consulting and technology company.

Indra offers IT solutions and services, covering both the public and the private sectors in different business areas such as defense and security, aerospace, telecommunications and media, energy and utility, public administration, healthcare, transport and traffic, air traffic management, industry and trade, and financial activities and insurance.

He also had a meeting with executives of Globalvia, a company that was established in 2007 as a 50-50 joint venture between Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas (FCC), a Spanish construction company, and Bankia, a Spanish banking conglomerate, to consolidate controlling interests in Public-Private Partnership projects in which the companies had a stake. Globalvia manages 22 toll highways, eight railroads, one airport, and two hospitals, seaports and marinas.

The President also talked with members of Grupo Actividades de Construccion y Servicios (ACS), a company whose businesses include construction, which covers civil works projects, buildings and projects related to mining; industrial services, which cover development, construction, maintenance and operation of energy, industrial, and mobility infrastructure; and environment, which covers activities related to waste treatment, urban services, and logistics.

He met with officials of Ineco, a company that provides engineering and consultancy services in transport covering aviation (including air transport, airports, and air navigation), railways, roads, urban transport, and ports.

Aquino also held talks with members of the Calidad Pascual, a family-owned dairy company that manufactures and markets more than 200 dairy products, fruit juices, and desserts. It operates in 80 countries including the Philippines, where it entered into a joint venture agreement with Philippine beverage manufacturer Asia Brewery to form AB Pascual Foods in 2012.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino tells why he’s open to 2nd term ‘I might do even better’
By Juliet Labog-Javellana |Philippine Daily Inquirer1:53 am | Sunday, September 14th, 2014


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

So, which is it, Mr. President?

President Benigno Aquino III opened another vein of endless speculation when he again hinted at entertaining thoughts of running for a second term, telling leaders of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) and their allies in Malacañang on Friday that he was “slightly open” to the idea of extending his term of office beyond 2016.

But then he coyly said that he was hoping that he would not be the administration presidential candidate in 2016.
Was he being serious or was it just a ploy to avoid becoming a lame duck?

In a wide-ranging interview with the Inquirer, Mr. Aquino admitted that it was “all of that,” meaning all of the reasons given.

Apart from not wanting the gains of his administration to go to waste, Mr. Aquino said he also wanted to fend off those who want to destabilize his administration, flush out the aspirants for the presidency in 2016 and fight those who want to make him a lame duck.

“If I close the door (to an extension) now, it will embolden these people who want to destabilize [the government],” the President said.

Citing the second antipork barrel protest and information supposedly obtained from the opposition grapevine, Mr. Aquino said his detractors were predicting his downfall after the Supreme Court ruled his Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) unconstitutional in July.

“The feedback my sisters got is that they (detractors) were predicting I would last only six months after the DAP,” the President said.

And contrary to what armchair analysts say, the President said there was still time to amend the Constitution, even the political provisions on term limits that would make it possible for him to run for a second term.

“I might do even better in a second term,” he said.

Guarding reforms

The President first broached the idea of seeking a second term in a television interview last month.

His move was criticized as running counter to the legacy of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who is largely credited for returning democracy to the country following the fall of the Marcos dictatorship and shunning any move to stay in power beyond her term.

* Vice President Jejomar Binay, an Aquino family friend, who has long declared plans to run for President in 2016 and is now fending off allegations of corruption, also declared himself opposed to the idea.

But Mr. Aquino said he was more serious about guarding the reforms instituted by his administration, which won by a landslide on an anticorruption platform in 2010.

Stopping ‘judicial overreach’

“Paano kung bababuyin lahat ng ginawa mo? Sisisihin ka, lalo kang pahihirapan, dadagdagan ang utang mo (What if they trample on everything you did? Blame you for everything, give you even more problems and put you in even more debt),” he said.

Mr. Aquino said he was also serious about stopping what he called “judicial overreach.”

“[Not being a lame duck] is one side of it, but my own perspective is look at what the Supreme Court is doing,” he said.

The President denounced the Supreme Court after it voted unanimously against the DAP, a controversial economic stimulus program that used the supposed savings of different agencies. The court earlier nullified the corruption-tainted Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or congressional pork barrel.

Acting without restraint

In a speech, Mr. Aquino asked the Supreme Court to reverse its ruling on the DAP, warning of a collision with the two coequal branches of government, meaning the executive and the legislature.

The President said the court had been acting without restraint toward the executive branch, citing the garnishment order against the National Power Corp. (Napocor) and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm).

A 2006 decision of the court ordered Napocor to pay P62 billion in back wages to employees found to have been illegally retrenched in 2003 when the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) was implemented.

The tribunal, however, last week ordered the garnishment deferred while the employees entitled to the back wages were being identified.

But Mr. Aquino said the earlier garnishment order would put severe constraints on the government’s finances.
“Psalm has a debt of P320 billion. If they garnish Psalm, they have no cash, then possibly some of it (debts) or most of it will all become sovereign guarantee,” he said.

He said that if the government were to assume Psalm’s P320-billion debt and Napocor’s P62-billion payment to the dismissed employees, the P500-billion budget allotted for social services and projects would be wiped out.

Previously opposed to Charter change, Mr. Aquino said he now believed there must be constitutional amendments to put a restraint on the judiciary.

Cha-cha misgivings
Once the Constitution is opened for amendments, changes on political provisions can also be introduced, including lifting of the term limits on government officials, he said.

But here, the President said, he had some misgivings.

In allowing him or any President a second term, “that opens the ground for somebody staying in office and perpetuating [himself].”

“Think about it, if we allow a second term, then there will be those who would go for a parliamentary shift. There will be no term limits, for life. No matter how good you are, at some point in time you will be out of touch with your bosses,” he said.

“When you open the Constitution, you open it to everything,” the President said.

Other considerations

Mr. Aquino said there were other considerations weighing on him.

“I have to be open to the question of continuity. But I’m so very conscious also of anybody who gets damay (dragged) in the calvary. Like my Cabinet,” he said.

“I’m very fortunate to have this Cabinet but they all have sacrificed tremendously,” he added, citing as an example Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive LP presidential candidate in 2016.

Then there are also his friends, sisters, nephews, nieces and spiritual advisers.

Mr. Aquino said the Carmelite nuns in Zamboanga, who were prayer warriors of his mother and who are now his spiritual advisers, were unanimous in not wanting him to stay beyond 2016.

“Sister Agnes, Sister Remy are more vocal,” he said. “You’ve done enough, you’ve sacrificed enough,” he quoted them as saying.

Countdown has started

Even his long-serving staff in his private office won’t vote for him if he runs again, he said.

“Aren’t we all looking at the calendar?” he quoted one of them as saying, reminding him that they had already started the countdown to his last days in Malacañang.

He said his executive assistant, Jun Delantar, was looking forward to returning to Capiz province permanently and another one wanted to go home to Tarlac province for good.

He said that when he asked his media relations officer, Undersecretary Rey Marfil, if he would join him in an extended term, Marfil flatly told him: “Sir, we’re only up to 2016. Or if not, I will only be here until 2016.”

“I can’t find any volunteers,” he said, laughing.

Return to private life

Then there is also the irresistible prospect of returning to a more private life.

“Go to a public place and enjoy a band without having to have a picture-taking session with everybody or just basically enjoy without anybody minding you,” said the bachelor President who is a music buff.

Noting how hectic a President’s life is, Mr. Aquino told of a recent trip to Mindoro where he and other officials inspected various infrastructure projects.

“We were taken to the Infinity Resort. When you look behind, there is a hill covered with virgin forest. Very beautiful.

If you ask me for more details, I spent a long time there—10 minutes!” he said with a laugh.

Mr. Aquino said he had to cut short his trip to attend a “game of generals” for the Coast Guard in the name of camaraderie and brotherhood.

There wasn’t even time for snacks.

“Gov. [Alfonso] Umali prepared merienda—cheeseburgers were there on display. Then [an aide] said, ‘Sir, the weather is getting bad. We have to take off now. We cannot get to Calapan if we don’t leave now.’

Mar Roxas was holding out his hand [for a cheeseburger], but someone came over to shake his hands,” he said, laughing.

“I have been to so many places where you normally couldn’t go like the Kennedy Center … and all you can have is a five-minute walk,” he said, referring to official trips that are crammed with meetings.

Mr. Aquino said he was imagining a scenario where he is leaving the Palace as the new President comes in.

Recalling his entry to Malacañang in 2010 when he succeeded President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), he said:

“Where did I meet GMA? At the main [staircase] or the side entrance? In 600-something days, it will be me who will be going out.”

Another people power?

But then he again reverts to the idea of being prodded to go for a second or an extended term in order to continue his reforms and stop those he calls the enemies of reform to return to power.

There are allies and believers who want a demonstration of people power at the Rizal Park to persuade him to stay.

“’Pag dumami ang pumunta sa Luneta, baka hindi na ako makahindi (If many people come to Luneta, I might find it hard to say no),” Mr. Aquino said.

FROM PHILSTAR

P-Noy tells allies he’s not seeking reelection’ By Danny Dangcalan (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 15, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has told allies that he is not seeking reelection despite endorsements from his supporters, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said Saturday night.

“He has already categorically said that he is not running for a second term,” said Marañon, who attended a meeting of members of the ruling coalition, which was called by Aquino at Malacañang last Friday.

Political allies from the Liberal Party, local and national supporters, members of civil society, non-government organizations and even members of militant organizations attended the meeting.

The President also asked the officials to unite to pursue the change that has been started by his administration.

Aquino’s statement came after speculations spread out that he is running for re- election through Charter change pushed by some of his allies.

Under the present Constitution, the president has only one term of six years without re- election.

Marañon also said the President has not yet endorsed any possible presidential candidate of the Liberal Party in the 2016 election.

“The President said that it’s not yet time to endorse any possible presidential candidate of the administration party,” Marañon said.

Presidential aspirant and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was present during Aquino’s meeting with his supporters.

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Cabinet shake-up sought by solons By Maricel Cruz | Sep. 14, 2014 at 12:01am


Bello

Lawmakers are demanding a revamp of the Aquino Cabinet since some of its members are deemed to be non-performing assets or have been accused of misuse of public funds.

The revamp-call targets Secretaries Florencio Abad (Budget), Corazon Soliman (Social Welfare), Proceso Alcala (Agriculture) and even General Alan Purisima (National Police).

Party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said that Abad and Purisima should resign despite President Benigno Aquino III’s continuing defense that they did not commit any wrong doing.

“Abad and Purisima should go. They are not only non-performing, they are also accused of being involved in questionable deals, projects and policies,” Bello said.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said a Cabinet revamp should have been done by the President a long ago.

“But President Aquino has this mistaken notion that firing his men is an admission of mistake – a grievous act that he is not capable of doing or he is

not supposed to be doing under the ‘Matuwid na Daan’,” Zarate said.

Zarate said the President’s refusal to fire his ‘non-performing and controversial’ Cabinet people was among the reasons why corruption persists in government.

Abad has been embroiled in controversies of late, foremost of which was the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) which was declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

Last July, Abad tendered his resignation to the President which the Chief Executive did not accept, as he said that “to accept his (Abad’s) resignation is to assign to him a wrong.” “I cannot accept the notion that doing right by our people is a wrong,” the President said.

Purisima, on the other hand, was recently taken to task for command responsibility over the P2 million robbery-abduction along Edsa in Mandaluyong City last Sept. 1, where 10 policemen were later identified as suspects.

Still, President Aquino stood by Purisima, saying that it was not right to dismiss Purisima from his post as he “leads the police force and does his job dutifully.”

Purisima also became controversial over the P25-million cost of the renovation of the Philippine National Police’s ‘White House’, the official residence of the PNP chief at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Earlier, militant lawmakers led by Rep. Neri Colmenares also demanded the resignation of Alcala for alleged anomalies in the agriculture sector.

Meanwhile, a member of the same bloc demanded that Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman take a leave of absence for “gross incompetence and negligence” in the handling of aid for the victims of Yolanda and other calamities that hit the country last year.

* Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, member of the Bloc headed by Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, said Soliman should be able to exercise “delicadeza” following the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that millions worth of relief goods were wasted and were not distributed to the typhoon victims.

“She should take a leave of absence during the pendency of a congressional inquiry on the matter,” the solon said.

De la Cruz said he was disgusted over Soliman’s ‘outright neglect of duty, and injustice to disaster victims’ when she allowed millions of pesos worth of relief to have gone to waste instead of distributing them to help the typhoon victims.

De la Cruz also demanded that Soliman account for some P700 million in donations from local sources and about P699 million foreign sources which have remained unused as of 31 December 2013, as revealed by state auditors.

Last week, the COA reported that some 7,527 family food packs worth P2.7 million; 95,472 assorted canned goods; 81 packs of noodles; and 21 sacks of rice went to waste due to the improper handling of the donations in Yolanda-devastated areas, particularly in Central and Eastern Visayas.

The COA report acknowledged that the losses were due to lack of coordination between government agencies, which caused delays in the distribution of goods.

“Procured supplies intended for relief operations have not been fully delivered by the suppliers due to logistical gaps, such as lack of storage facility while awaiting repacking and eventual transport to affected areas and lack of delivery trucks,” the report read.

The COA also noted that warehousing the donations and relief goods at the National Relief Operations Center caused a “logistical nightmare” for the Social Welfare department.

Similarly, the audit report noted the disposal of damaged goods and dented canned goods, which were excluded from food packs, were also not accounted for.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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