NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

MALACAÑANG ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF 18 NEW OFICIALS


The Palace announced the appointment of 18 new officials of various government agencies. During a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Corazon Davis and Marcial Amaro, Jr. have been appointed as Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and Danielle Marie Rieza, as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Finance. Also appointed were Ramon Jumawan as Director IV, Department of Transportation and Communications; Amante Caluya, Jr. as Captain, Hydrography Branch of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority; Fidelis Cañada as Acting Director II, Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense. Ariel Cayanan has been named as Acting Executive Director III, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries; and Josefina Rico as Director II, National Meat Inspection Service. Both agencies are under the Department of Agriculture. READ MORE...

ALSO Noy at Araw Ng Kagitingan: 'Former enemies can become partners BBL passage pushed anew'


US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa shake hands in front of President Aquino during the Araw ng Kagitingan rites in Pilar, Bataan yesterday.
WILLY PEREZ 
Former enemies can be partners in realizing peace. With representatives of former wartime foes watching, President Aquino renewed his pitch yesterday for the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). Aquino used Araw ng Kagitingan ceremonies for war veterans, which was attended by the ambassadors of the country’s wartime enemy Japan and ally the United States, to push for the BBL, whose approval has been imperiled by the slaughter of 44 police commandos by fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF). “Those who were once our enemies are today our partners in realizing a just peace for all. In coming together to foster stability in Mindanao, all the more are we able to widen the scope of opportunities available to our countrymen,” Aquino said. In front of war veterans and their families at the Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat, Aquino said a repeat of the atrocities of World War II must not take place ever again because conflict will only lead to more suffering and misunderstanding. READ MORE...

ALSO Noy to Mar: Do something about your ratings


DILG Sec. Manuel Roxas and Pres. Benigno Aquino III.
STAR/File photo 
Six months before the start of the election season, President Aquino has reportedly told his perceived “anointed” successor Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to work harder to arrest his plunging ratings in surveys. Palace insiders revealed that Aquino, who sits as chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, gave the warning a week before the Holy Week break. The sources didn’t say exactly what the President would do if Roxas’ ratings drop further in the next survey. One source paraphrased Aquino as having told Roxas, “Ayusin mo nga ratings mo (Do something about your ratings).”  Aquino’s remarks, said one source, were made out of “exasperation,” considering that the President had given Roxas all the resources he needed – from funds, access to agencies, to manpower and network – even for activities not related to his job as DILG chief. Another source confirmed the presidential warning was made during a meeting with members of the Cabinet, many of whom belonged to the so-called “Hyatt 10” or the officials who bolted the Arroyo administration in July 2006. The source said the President reminded the DILG chief that the October filing of certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections was fast approaching. READ MORE...

ALSO: Government urged: Fill 190,000 vacant positions


Philstar.com/File  
Congressmen yesterday urged the government to fill nearly 190,000 vacant positions in the entire bureaucracy. Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll said filling these jobs would reduce the number of jobless college graduates in the country. He said as far as he knew, the House of Representatives and the Senate had included funds for hiring personnel in the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget. “So the funds are there. There is no reason why state agencies cannot hire the personnel they need, unless there are no qualified applicants, which I do not believe,” he added. He noted that if the appropriated funds were not used, these would become savings of the executive department. Reached for comment, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman, confirmed that this year’s budget includes funds for vacant positions. “They are included in the lump sum called Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, which amounts to P117.4 billion,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO SEA DISPUTE: 'China must adhere to international laws'
[Palace welcomes Obama support]

COLOMA: Palace welcomes Obama support --China must adhere to international laws for the sake of regional peace and stability, Malacañang emphasized yesterday as it welcomed fresh assurances of support from United States President Barack Obama and other world leaders in seeking a diplomatic solution to the West Philippine Sea dispute. “We note that in his most recent remarks in Jamaica, President Obama has reaffirmed the solidarity of the United States with the Philippines in upholding the principle that disputes on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea must be resolved diplomatically and in accordance with international law,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. Asked whether China was changing the game through massive reclamation activities in the Spratly islands group, Coloma stressed that as a member of the United Nations, China was expected to abide by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that delineates the maritime entitlements of countries. Obama expressed concern at a town-hall event in Kingston, Jamaica Thursday over China’s use of its “sheer size and muscle” to push around small countries like the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea. Coloma said China’s growing aggression was the reason why the Philippines submitted a memorial or written argument of its position on the issue to the UN arbitral tribunal in The Hague. He added President Aquino would likely raise the issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia later this month. READ MORE...

ALSO: Frozen Corona bank accounts yield P2,770


Two more bank accounts of ousted chief justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina have been frozen on orders of the Sandiganbayan.
But the accounts in Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Banco de Oro (BDO), linked to a P130.5-million forfeiture case the couple is facing, were found to contain a total of only P2,770.73. The anti-graft court has frozen a total of only P9,295.44 in deposits of the Corona couple from four bank accounts. Officials of LBP and BDO told Sheriff IV Alexander Valencia that further transactions on the bank accounts would be put on hold in compliance with the Sandiganbayan’s orders. Loreta Garcia-Marasigan, BDO assistant vice president and Legal Services Group head, said an account under the name of the Coronas at the bank’s Loyola Heights-Berkeley Residences branch still holds P615.06. Rosemarie Osoteo, LBP vice president, said Corona has an account at the bank’s United Nations Avenue branch containing P2,155.67. READ MORE...

ALSO PHILSTAR OPINION: Finally learning lessons?


by Tony Katugbak  Over the peaceful Holy Week break, everyone hopefully had time to reflect and spend some quality time with family. I know our family was fortunate enough to be able to relax and recharge for busier months ahead. However, underlying the relaxing short break was also a sense of worry about the possible arrival of another super typhoon on our shores. This was extremely troubling news for the country as we have yet to recover from when Yolanda devastated the Philippines in 2013. We thought we were prepared back then, but honestly nothing could truly prepare us for the unbelievable wrath of the storm and it made sense that even just hearing the words super typhoon were enough to make us all cautious last week as the typhoon, internationally called Typhoon Maysak intensified over the Pacific Ocean. It was justifiably scary as we saw how the storm ripped through Micronesia prior to getting stronger over the sea on its path to Manila. There were even images taken from space of Maysak that were both beautiful and terrifying. With all the information coming in steadily, I feel that again, this time we were a bit more prepared. I am truly grateful we did not have to find out if that was true as the storm weakened upon entering the Philippines, but I have to admit that I feel that we are finally starting to give more importance to typhoon preparedness and for once are being preventive rather than reactive. READ  MORE...
 


READ FULL MEDIA NEWS REPORT:

Malacañang announces appointment of 18 new officials


AQUINO

MANILA, APRIL 13, 2015 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Philippine News Agency April 6, 2015 - The Palace announced the appointment of 18 new officials of various government agencies.

During a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Corazon Davis and Marcial Amaro, Jr. have been appointed as Assistant Secretaries of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and Danielle Marie Rieza, as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Finance.

Also appointed were Ramon Jumawan as Director IV, Department of Transportation and Communications; Amante Caluya, Jr. as Captain, Hydrography Branch of the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority; Fidelis Cañada as Acting Director II, Office of Civil Defense under the Department of National Defense.

Ariel Cayanan has been named as Acting Executive Director III, Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries; and Josefina Rico as Director II, National Meat Inspection Service. Both agencies are under the Department of Agriculture.

READ MORE...
Other appointees were Josie Perez as Deputy National Statistician of the Censuses and Technical Coordination Office; and Estela de Guzman as Deputy National Statistician of the Civil and Registration and Center Support Office. Both offices are part of the Philippine Statistics Authority, which is under the National Economic and Development Authority.

The new Registers of Deeds II are Arthur Abamonga, Julie Mae Monique Abela, Casiano Arcillas, Consuelo Filog, Dinna Lao, and Maria Elnora Puday for the Land Registration Authority, which is under the Department of Justice.

Raul Fajardo Marcelo has been named as member representing the private sector, of the Board of Directors of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority; while Jose Suan has been named as member representing the labor sector, of the Board of Directors of the Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone Authority.


PHILSTAR

Noy: Former enemies can become partners BBL passage pushed anew By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 10, 2015 - 12:00am


US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa shake hands in front of President Aquino during the Araw ng Kagitingan rites in Pilar, Bataan yesterday. WILLY PEREZ

MANILA, Philippines - Former enemies can be partners in realizing peace.

With representatives of former wartime foes watching, President Aquino renewed his pitch yesterday for the approval of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

Aquino used Araw ng Kagitingan ceremonies for war veterans, which was attended by the ambassadors of the country’s wartime enemy Japan and ally the United States, to push for the BBL, whose approval has been imperiled by the slaughter of 44 police commandos by fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“Those who were once our enemies are today our partners in realizing a just peace for all. In coming together to foster stability in Mindanao, all the more are we able to widen the scope of opportunities available to our countrymen,” Aquino said.

In front of war veterans and their families at the Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat, Aquino said a repeat of the atrocities of World War II must not take place ever again because conflict will only lead to more suffering and misunderstanding.

READ MORE...
“Solidarity brings widespread benefit. This is the same lesson that leads us to champion lasting peace in Mindanao, and to call for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law,” he said.

Aquino mentioned the conflict between the MILF and the government in comparison to the Philippines and other Allied nations against Japan during World War II.

“The entire world stood in solidarity: never again should such a tragedy take place; no one wins in a war,” Aquino said in his speech at the Mount Samat Memorial Shrine in Bataan.

Aquino said so much damage was wrought by the World War II, with more than a million Filipinos killed, which the country must not let happen again.

With the passage of the BBL, Aquino expressed confidence a stable Mindanao will open a scope of opportunities for citizens and end two generations of torment in the South, which has a vast potential for growth.

This will lead to a region of peace that no one will be driven to join radical factions, terrorist groups and organizations pursuing selfish agendas, he added.

“Now that we are here, we will not allow succeeding generations to suffer the same fate. However hard our task may be, whatever challenges we may face, we will continue to pursue peace, because this is the way to obtain justice for all,” Aquino said.

“Is it not true that even the victors and survivors needed to rebuild from the ashes? From such an insight, the opportunity rose: because of their decision, adversaries became partners. Nations that once needed help, such as Germany and Japan, are now extending aid in pursuit of global peace and progress,” he added.

Drawing parallels from history, Aquino said progress clearly could not be achieved through mere individual action and conflict could only lead to more suffering and misunderstanding.

Aquino said two generations already suffered due to the violence that dominated Mindanao, and his administration would not allow succeeding generations to suffer the same fate.

“By commemorating this Day of Valor, we reflect upon the lessons of history, so that we may learn to never repeat its failures, and instead move forward together towards that which we seek to accomplish. After three generations, with the blessing of hindsight, we clearly know the causes that led to the world wars,” he said.

“After such a devastating war, instead of bearing grudges, they chose peace. Through proper processes, they held the leaders of defeated countries to account, and helped uplift the rest of the world,” he said.

“In our part of the world, since then our country was able to hurdle so many challenges, especially through the help of the United States, Japan and other members of the international community,” Aquino said.

Aquino mentioned the help other countries extended to the Philippines in times of need, particularly after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

“We are well aware: the trials we face as a country, even those we face today, are indeed serious. Among these are the dangers brought by pandemics, the disasters caused by climate change and the spread of fear and violence by terrorists. If we fail to unite, many more opportunities will be wasted; many more lives will be claimed by chaos, and many more livelihoods destroyed by lack of understanding. The challenge is to strengthen our solidarity further, and tread a single direction towards the fulfillment of our collective aspirations,” he said.

Aquino urged Filipinos to always remember that despite differences, people were living in and sharing a single world and that the legitimate concern of one was a concern of all.

Aquino emphasized this generation has the responsibility of maintaining peace, and of continuing the pursuit of widespread prosperity.

“This is the vow that the Philippines makes, not only for the victims of past wars and violence, but also for present and future generations of Filipinos, and for the rest of our brothers and sisters across the globe,” he said.

‘Good partners, good allies’

Aquino took the opportunity to pitch anew for the approval of the BBL in the wake of the public outcry over the involvement of the MILF in the killing of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25.

Deliberations on the BBL were stalled in Congress, where lawmakers are looking into the extent of the involvement of the MILF in the killing of the 44 police commandoes.

The BBL, proposed under the peace agreement signed between the government and the MILF, would replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with a new Bangsamoro entity.

Following Mamasapano, there were allegations of US involvement in the botched operation.

US officials denied any direct involvement of American troops in the Mamasapano operation.

“As for Mindanao, I think everyone knows that this was a Philippine planned and executed mission, but that the United States has over time provided and shared information on international terrorists. We work very closely with the Special Action Force, with the special operation forces of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and as long as we continue to do so, it’s always in support and at the request of the Philippine government. So what we’re doing is simply to be good partners, good allies,” US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said.

Goldberg, for his part, paid tribute to the 44 SAF policemen during yesterday’s commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan.

“As we commemorate this Day of Valor in the Philippines, we honor all those who have fallen in the name of freedom, and we also honor the memory and heroism of the 44 Special Action Force members who laid down their lives to protect us all against a modern scourge: international terrorism,” Goldberg said in his speech at Mt. Samat.

The US participation in the operations had been questioned but both American and Philippine authorities maintained it was within the bounds of the Constitution and the country’s laws.

“As I mentioned, we have worked with the Philippine armed forces, with the police as they take on the challenges. Ultimately, it’s a Filipino challenge here in the Philippines. What we can do as good friends and allies of the Philippines is to share information when we have it, what we can do is to help in training and in some cases equipping our allies as they go about dealing with these challenges, so that’s what good allies do,” he said.

At the same time, Goldberg reassured the Philippines of US support for the country in keeping the peace and stability in the region as well as in times of disaster.

The Mamasapano incident also triggered public outcry over the President’s apparent inability to control the situation, with some critics calling for Aquino’s resignation.

On the other hand, former senator Panfilo Lacson urged the public to help Aquino move on from Mamasapano.

“We have no other choice but to move on because, first and foremost, we must think of the country. We must move on for the sake of the country,” Lacson said.

“If we keep on berating the President, if we keep on telling him to step down, where will we go from there?” he added.

Remedies

Opponents of the BBL have questioned the extent of the autonomy to be given to the Bangsamoro government and have threatened to question its legality before the courts.

Former executive secretary and peace negotiator Alexander Aguirre said the BBL can pass the constitutional test but should undergo some refinements to address certain issues.

Aguirre said parts of the draft law should be rephrased to make it more acceptable.

“It can be defended in court using the principles of interpreting constitutional provisions,” he said.

Aguirre, who served as chief supervisor for the implementation of the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said the BBL could be defended because the 1987 Constitution provided for the structure of the government in the autonomous region.

“The structure of government is so provided in the BBL to be one with a legislative body and an executive body,” Aguirre said.

“That is in the Constitution. The only thing is that it is something new because it is an assembly type of government,” he added.

Aguirre noted that under the BBL, representatives are elected by the people but the regional governor will be elected by members of the regional assembly.

“We usually don’t do that here because ours is a presidential system, but that can be an exception to the rule because that is a specific autonomous region,” he said.

Aguirre said the Constitution did not state whether the executive branch – the regional governor and the Cabinet – should be directly elected by the people.

“My only suggestion is don’t make it a parliament. Change it to assembly. The chief minister should be governor and the Cabinet should be called secretaries of the government,” he said, reasoning that this was the common nomenclature for positions in government “so there will be no confusion.”

Aguirre also offered a suggestion on how to include the MNLF in the proposed BBL. He said certain re-wordings should be done on provisions abolishing the ARMM and repealing the law creating it.

The ARMM is a product of the peace negotiations between the government and the MNLF. The BBL, meanwhile, will implement the peace deal between the government and the MILF, breakaway group of the MNLF.

Aguirre said the BBL should not totally scrap the laws born out of the talks with the MNLF. He said relevant provisions of Republic Act 6734 or the ARMM organic act and Republic Act 9054, the law that expanded the organic act, should be included in the BBL draft.

“We will be merely abolishing a political entity and we are replacing it with another political entity. You should not abolish the autonomous region because it is in the Constitution,” Aguirre said.

“We did not totally repeal the organic act. We can say to the MNLF that they are included here,” he added.

The tragedy of Mamasapano also revealed the deeper intricacies of the BBL and how sectors have been longing for a peaceful closure to the issue, said Malaysian Army Gen. Mokhsin Sheik, commander of the International Monitoring Team (IMT).

Sheik said the incident also heightened public awareness on how the government and the MILF are trying to resolve amicably the Moro problem in Mindanao.

“The Mamasapano incident was tragic, but has had positive effects too,” Sheik said. – Raffy Viray, Alexis Romero, John Unson, Jose Rodel Clapano, Ric Sapnu


PHILSTAR

Noy to Mar: Do something about your ratings By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 10, 2015 - 12:00am


DILG Sec. Manuel Roxas and Pres. Benigno Aquino III. STAR/File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Six months before the start of the election season, President Aquino has reportedly told his perceived “anointed” successor Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to work harder to arrest his plunging ratings in surveys.

Palace insiders revealed that Aquino, who sits as chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, gave the warning a week before the Holy Week break.

The sources didn’t say exactly what the President would do if Roxas’ ratings drop further in the next survey.

One source paraphrased Aquino as having told Roxas, “Ayusin mo nga ratings mo (Do something about your ratings).”

Aquino’s remarks, said one source, were made out of “exasperation,” considering that the President had given Roxas all the resources he needed – from funds, access to agencies, to manpower and network – even for activities not related to his job as DILG chief.

Another source confirmed the presidential warning was made during a meeting with members of the Cabinet, many of whom belonged to the so-called “Hyatt 10” or the officials who bolted the Arroyo administration in July 2006.

The source said the President reminded the DILG chief that the October filing of certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections was fast approaching.

READ MORE...
In Pulse Asia’s survey in March, Vice President Jejomar Binay topped the voters’ preference among the presidential contenders in 2016 at 29 percent, followed by neophyte Sen. Grace Poe at 14 percent. Even Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte got higher ratings than Roxas at 12 percent. The DILG chief trailed badly at four percent.

Despite his plunging ratings in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy, Aquino firmly believes that his endorsement power has not diminished. While he has not openly endorsed anyone, it is widely acknowledged that he would eventually name Roxas as his preferred successor come 2016. Roxas lost to Binay in the vice presidential race in 2010.

The DILG chief was in Ormoc City last Wednesday to lead the inauguration of projects funded through the Recovery After Yolanda (RAY) I program. With Roxas during the unveiling of the projects were Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla, Mayor Edward Codilla and Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo Locsin Jr.

The projects include the rehabilitated Ormoc Superdome, the Food Park and Public Market Building A.

“In implementing RAY, we would like to make sure that help from government is deliberate, programmatic and sustained,” Roxas said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he is giving himself until August to decide whether to run for president next year.

“You can only run for president if the people want you. I feel that people are looking for someone with a vision but they are still in the process of choosing,” Cayetano told reporters in Dagupan City when asked of his plans for 2016.

He said he would make an announcement “around June, July or August.” He said the people are likely to choose from among three to four presidential aspirants.

“If I’m included in their three or four choices, I will take a leap of faith,” he said.

He said he would also use surveys to guide him in his decision.

“You would run because you want to win. You would not run just for the sake of running. You would have to gauge people’s support,” Cayetano said.

He said his performance as an elected official of Taguig, where his wife Laarni Cayetano now serves as mayor, could be replicated in the entire country. The senator had served as councilor, vice mayor and congressman of Taguig.


PHILSTAR

Government urged: Fill 190,000 vacant positions By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 13, 2015 - 12:00am


Philstar.com/File

MANILA, Philippines - Congressmen yesterday urged the government to fill nearly 190,000 vacant positions in the entire bureaucracy.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano lll said filling these jobs would reduce the number of jobless college graduates in the country.

He said as far as he knew, the House of Representatives and the Senate had included funds for hiring personnel in the P2.6-trillion 2015 national budget.

“So the funds are there. There is no reason why state agencies cannot hire the personnel they need, unless there are no qualified applicants, which I do not believe,” he added.

He noted that if the appropriated funds were not used, these would become savings of the executive department.

Reached for comment, Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, appropriations committee chairman, confirmed that this year’s budget includes funds for vacant positions.

“They are included in the lump sum called Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund, which amounts to P117.4 billion,” he said.

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Once agencies have qualified applicants, they can request the release of the necessary funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Based on budget documents submitted to the appropriations, the bureaucracy has 188,255 job vacancies. Albano said there are a total of 1,433,186 permanent and budgeted positions, of which 1,244,931 are filled.

He said critical frontline agencies have the most number of vacancies with the Department of Education having the largest: 59,464 out of 702,916 permanent positions.

The Department of Health has 11,166 vacancies, Department of Agrarian Reform, 6,096; Department of Agriculture, 3,659; Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 8,893; Bureau of Internal Revenue, 3,756; Bureau of Customs, 2,767; and Department of Transportation and Communications, 1,272.

The Philippine National Police has 164,410 permanent positions for uniformed personnel. Of that number, 15,592 are vacant.

The Supreme Court and lower courts have 7,201 vacancies out of 32,448 positions, while the Commission on Audit has 14,102 permanent positions, out of which 7,731 are filled.

Rep. Arnel Ty of party-list group Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers Association said it is “shameful” that tens of thousands of positions in the bureaucracy remain amid the high unemployment rate, especially among college graduates and young professionals.

“We reckon many of these vacant items are for public elementary and high school teachers. Yet, we have tens of thousands of licensed teachers who are totally jobless,” he said.

“In fact, some of these registered teachers have become so desperate that they’ve been driven to work in private schools for as low as P7,000 a month,” he added.

Unlike executive agencies, the judiciary and independent constitutional bodies receive their funds for vacancies. The money becomes savings if not used and could be spent for other purposes like additional incentives.

Ty suggested that the DBM, Department of Labor and Employment, Civil Service Commission and state agencies work together to remove obstacles in the filling of vacancies.

He said he is worried that the money meant for the unoccupied positions could end up getting “DAPped,” referring to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program, the funds for which came from state agencies that failed to spend their appropriations, and which Malacañang diverted to other projects, including those proposed by senators and congressmen.

“The government, which is the country’s biggest employer, must take the initiative in reducing unemployment,” Albano stressed.


ABS-CBN

'China must adhere to international laws' By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star

COLOMA: Palace welcomes Obama support

MANILA, Philippines -- China must adhere to international laws for the sake of regional peace and stability, Malacañang emphasized yesterday as it welcomed fresh assurances of support from United States President Barack Obama and other world leaders in seeking a diplomatic solution to the West Philippine Sea dispute.

“We note that in his most recent remarks in Jamaica, President Obama has reaffirmed the solidarity of the United States with the Philippines in upholding the principle that disputes on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea must be resolved diplomatically and in accordance with international law,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Asked whether China was changing the game through massive reclamation activities in the Spratly islands group, Coloma stressed that as a member of the United Nations, China was expected to abide by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that delineates the maritime entitlements of countries.

Obama expressed concern at a town-hall event in Kingston, Jamaica Thursday over China’s use of its “sheer size and muscle” to push around small countries like the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

Coloma said China’s growing aggression was the reason why the Philippines submitted a memorial or written argument of its position on the issue to the UN arbitral tribunal in The Hague.

He added President Aquino would likely raise the issue at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia later this month.

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In the ASEAN summits in Cambodia in 2012, Brunei Darussalam in 2013 and Myanmar last year, Coloma said Aquino had consistently advocated the fleshing out of a legally binding code of conduct of parties in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea to ensure peace and stability in the region.

Coloma said it was reasonable to expect that Aquino and the other ASEAN leaders would engage in continuing dialogue and discuss how developments in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea would be addressed, with the end in view of helping member-countries attain their shared vision of a united and politically secured bloc.

He said “a rules-based community” with shared values and norms would be key to achieving a cohesive, peaceful, stable and resilient region.

Coloma emphasized that countries must have a shared responsibility for comprehensive security and should work for “a dynamic and outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.”

Obama raised his concerns over China just hours after Beijing gave a detailed defense of its creation of artificial islands in the contested waterway.

Backing for PH position

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB the country’s position on the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea has received broad international support because the country has taken the peaceful track.

“We have committed to pursuing our cause through recognized fora, and that we continue to adopt the rules-based approach; meaning, we will follow the ways laid down under international law to fight for what is ours... This support is manifested in so many ways by members of the global community,” Valte said.

Valte said the government was exhausting all diplomatic and legal means to address the issue.

She said it would be up to the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to study proposals for increased presence of US and Philippine troops in the West Philippine Sea to protect the country’s sovereignty.

China’s rapid reclamation around seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago in the West Philippine Sea has alarmed other claimants, including Vietnam, and drawn growing criticism of Beijing from US government officials and the military.

While the new islands are not likely to overturn US military superiority in the region, workers are building ports and fuel storage depots and possibly two airstrips that experts have said would allow Beijing to project power deep into the maritime heart of Southeast Asia.

“Where we get concerned with China is where it is not necessarily abiding by international norms and rules and is using its sheer size and muscle to force countries into subordinate positions,” Obama said in Jamaica ahead of a Caribbean summit in Panama.

“We think this can be solved diplomatically, but just because the Philippines or Vietnam are not as large as China doesn’t mean that they can just be elbowed aside,” he said.

China claims most of the potentially energy rich South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims.

China, which has asked Washington not to take sides in the row, says it is willing to discuss the issue with individual countries directly involved in the dispute.

However, it has refused to participate in an international arbitration case filed by the Philippines in The Hague.

Growing concerns

For the Department of Foreign Affairs, the US statements reflect a growing international concern over Chinese reclamation activities.

“The US has issued recent statements on China’s massive reclamation activities. These statements, and those of other nations, reflect growing international concern over these reclamations that are contrary to international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and undermine our collective efforts to build regional security and stability,” the DFA said in a statement.

It said the Philippines’ arbitration case based on UNCLOS is Manila’s way of asserting its maritime entitlements through peaceful means.

“Developments in the South China Sea concern not only the claimant states and the region, but also the international community. All should contribute to efforts to establish a regional architecture based on the rule of law,” the DFA said.

The Philippines, the DFA pointed out, would continue to work with ASEAN and other responsible members of the international community to address China’s unilateral and aggressive actions.

The DFA said Beijing’s action was a direct challenge to the rule of law, and done without regard to risk to peace and stability in the region. – Pia Lee Brago


PHILSTAR

Frozen Corona bank accounts yield P2,770 By Michael Punongbayan (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 9, 2015 - 12:00am


Two more bank accounts of ousted chief justice Renato Corona and his wife Cristina have been frozen on orders of the Sandiganbayan.

MANILA, Philippines - But the accounts in Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Banco de Oro (BDO), linked to a P130.5-million forfeiture case the couple is facing, were found to contain a total of only P2,770.73.

The anti-graft court has frozen a total of only P9,295.44 in deposits of the Corona couple from four bank accounts.

Officials of LBP and BDO told Sheriff IV Alexander Valencia that further transactions on the bank accounts would be put on hold in compliance with the Sandiganbayan’s orders.

Loreta Garcia-Marasigan, BDO assistant vice president and Legal Services Group head, said an account under the name of the Coronas at the bank’s Loyola Heights-Berkeley Residences branch still holds P615.06.

Rosemarie Osoteo, LBP vice president, said Corona has an account at the bank’s United Nations Avenue branch containing P2,155.67.

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Last month, Valencia reported that a Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) account found belonging to the Coronas only had P1,056.27 while a Philippine National Bank (PNB) account in Diliman, Quezon City had P6,524.71.

The spouses did not have accounts with Philippine Savings Bank, United Overseas Bank, Metrobank, Chinabank and Citibank.

The Sandiganbayan also ordered garnishment of other assets of the Coronas.

Valencia reported serving the garnishment orders on eight properties, including condominium units in One Burgundy Plaza, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City; The Columns, Ayala Avenue, Makati; Belagio I, Fort Bonifacio, and Bonifacio Ridge, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The Sandiganbayan’s notices of garnishment were also served on a real property in Maranaw, La Vista, Quezon City, as well as three parking lots.

In the forfeiture case, the Coronas are accused of acquiring or accumulating ill-gotten wealth from 2001 to 2011 which were not declared in their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).

The freeze order seeks to ensure that the state would get in full the amount if the Coronas are proven in court to have acquired wealth illegally.


PHILSTAR OPINION

Finally learning lessons? INTROSPECTIVE By Tony Katigbak (Pilipino Star Ngayon) | Updated April 9, 2015 - 12:00am


By Tony Katigbak

Over the peaceful Holy Week break, everyone hopefully had time to reflect and spend some quality time with family. I know our family was fortunate enough to be able to relax and recharge for busier months ahead. However, underlying the relaxing short break was also a sense of worry about the possible arrival of another super typhoon on our shores. This was extremely troubling news for the country as we have yet to recover from when Yolanda devastated the Philippines in 2013.

We thought we were prepared back then, but honestly nothing could truly prepare us for the unbelievable wrath of the storm and it made sense that even just hearing the words super typhoon were enough to make us all cautious last week as the typhoon, internationally called Typhoon Maysak intensified over the Pacific Ocean. It was justifiably scary as we saw how the storm ripped through Micronesia prior to getting stronger over the sea on its path to Manila. There were even images taken from space of Maysak that were both beautiful and terrifying.

With all the information coming in steadily, I feel that again, this time we were a bit more prepared. I am truly grateful we did not have to find out if that was true as the storm weakened upon entering the Philippines, but I have to admit that I feel that we are finally starting to give more importance to typhoon preparedness and for once are being preventive rather than reactive.

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This type of mindset is far better than how we have been in the past just taking simple precautions and hoping for the best. Now, at least, it seems as if we are being more proactive in protecting ourselves and our countrymen and I hope that this is something that we keep doing as storms and typhoons are, unfortunately, something we have to deal with on a yearly basis

As the age old saying goes – ‘it is far better to be safe than to be sorry.’ This will always be true when it comes to protecting ourselves from the forces of nature that threaten our country. Some people sometimes complain that they prepared for nothing, but that is the wrong attitude to take. Nothing was ever lost from being prepared. The opposite, on the other hand, can be devastating.

I must admit that when it came to preparing for the possible onslaught of Typhoon Chedeng, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas did his job well this time. Thank goodness he, and the country in general, seem to finally be learning from the painful lessons of the past. Like I said, there is never such a thing as too prepared and evacuating those in the storm path while keeping updates streaming in on a regular basis was the best way to mitigate possible disaster. I am very happy that now our countrymen are no longer content to remain idle when storms threaten our shores and take a more proactive part in their own protection including watching news reports, making sure they are informed, and sharing the information with others.

Thankfully, the Philippines was spared the wrath of another super typhoon this time and we were able to celebrate our Easter in peace with joy and thankfulness in our hearts. However, we are slowly learning that our weather patterns may be changing due to global warming and just because Chedeng passed uneventfully that may not always be the case in the future. We must remain vigilant and prepared for whatever lay ahead.

* * *

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Washington has finally released a statement that bomb maker and wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir (alias Marwan) was indeed killed last January 25 by the police commandos in Mamasapano. This is a little bit of good news in what has globally become known as a horrible tragedy taking the lives of 44 brave policemen who were massacred in the field. At least they were truly able to take out the target that they gave their lives for or else the entire mission truly would have been for nothing.

The confirmation of Marwan’s death comes as the FBI finally takes the bomb maker off their most wanted terror list. They came to the conclusion through a thorough review of the forensic data obtained from our law enforcement. And while PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo can say with certainty that the mission was a success and the terrorist was neutralized, we all know that it did not come without terrible cost and sacrifice. Which leads me to my question of who received the reward offered for Marwan’s capture or death? I believe the known terrorist carried a $5 million bounty on his head after all.

Is it too much to hope that this reward money could somehow be spread out among the families of the fallen 44 and those that died in the terrible tragedy? I can’t help but feel that it’s only fair to help those who lost husbands and sons in the encounter. I’m sure that many would agree with me after all, that these men are the ones who paid the price for Marwan’s neutralization, should they not be granted the reward as well?

* * *

On a lighter note, I am thankful for a peaceful and meaningful Holy Week, which culminated in a fun Easter morning with the family and an exciting Easter Egg Hunt for my granddaughter Bella. The Easter Egg Hunt has become a fun yearly tradition for children and something we all look forward to. The hunt began early morning and Bella wasted no time getting to work finding the egg with her corresponding number on it at The Palms Country Club. Once she found her numbered egg she was even fortunate enough to find the bronze special prize egg earning her a special additional treat.

We all live for fun moments like these with those we love. I hope your Holy Week break and Easter Sunday were memorable and meaningful as well.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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