13 July 2015

Philippines hopes for favorable ruling from Arbitral Tribunal
Malacañang is hoping for a favorable ruling from the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague as the hearing for the Philippines’ second round of arguments in the country’s case against China, begins on Monday (July 13), an official has said.

“We are confident that the delegation will be able to thoroughly answer additional questions from the Tribunal and convey the full merit of our arguments. We continue to hope for a favorable ruling,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in his opening statement during a press briefing on Monday.

“Last week, a delegation from the country traveled to The Hague, Netherlands, to present the case of the Philippines before the Arbitral Tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Peace Palace. All three branches of government were represented in the delegation, showing a united stance in supporting our country’s claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” he said.

The first round of arguments to convince the Arbitral Tribunal that it has jurisdiction to hear the Philippines’ case against China began on July 7.

“In his speech before the Tribunal, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario spoke about the case’s importance, not just to our region but also to the world, given that the spirit of UNCLOS lies at its core and since it could have implications on the future handling of maritime disputes,” said Lacierda.

“Subsequent speakers — such as Paul Reichler, Chief Counsel for the Philippines, among others — gave presentations on why the case falls squarely within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, as well as on the strength of the Philippines’ environmental and fishing claims against the People’s Republic of China,” he added. PND (jm)

Malacañang clarifies housing project of Department of Interior and Local Government
The Palace on Monday clarified the allocation given to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) intended for housing projects in the country this year.

Senator Panfilo Lacson has questioned the P1.2 billion housing budget under the DILG.

During a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the budget allocation that Senator Lacson was referring to falls under the housing program for Informal Settler Families (ISF).

“The amount mentioned is in (the 2015 budget’s) special provision number 5: Housing Program for Informal Settler Families Residing in Danger Areas within Metro Manila,” Secretary Lacierda said.

He noted that according to the budget, “The amount of One Billion Two Hundred Forty Four Million Six Hundred Six Thousand Pesos (P1,244,606,000) appropriated herein for the Housing Program for Informal Settler Families (ISF) Residing in Danger Areas within Metro Manila shall be used exclusively for the following projects with the corresponding amounts: a) Construction of Micro-Medium-Rise Buildings P700,000,000; b) Interim Shelter Fund for 26,367 Target Families P474,606,000; c) Administrative Cost P70,000,000.”

Lacierda said the money was given to the DILG because it handles local government units in the metropolis, which deal with informal settler families situated in danger zones.

“Remember, there was a situation before where the informal settler families were situated in danger zones, ‘yung mga nasa creek, nasa river. The President made emphasis on the point that this is not acceptable for them and this is not acceptable for this government to put them always in harm’s way,” he explained.

“Every time there’s a storm, every time there’s a flood, these people are put in harm’s way, so we have to take them out of these danger zones. And for that particular instruction, (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad provided a budget for that. Nandoon po ‘yan sa budget.”

As for the other P3.1 billion mentioned by Senator Lacson, this is contained in the budget’s special provision number 3 — the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan Program, Lacierda said.

The government appropriated P3,111,246,000 for the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program to implement projects in conflict-affected areas already identified by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Lacierda said that just like the DILG’s budget for the ISF, the money was given to the OPAPP because it deals with conflict-affected areas.

“Lahat po ‘yan ay nandito po sa ating budget. Alam niyo naman na sinabi natin noon pa that we are committed to transparency and accountability. So, nandito po lahat ‘yung mga sinasabi ni Senator Ping Lacson,” he added. PND (as)

Palace committed to “do everything” to save life of Mary Jane Veloso
Malacañang has reiterated its commitment to help save the life of Mary Jane Veloso.

“The government is committed to try to do everything to save Mary Jane Veloso,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing at the Palace on Monday.

“There’s a case filed against her (illegal) recruiters, so we hope to inform, or perhaps the Indonesian government has already been informed of the status of the case. Hopefully, that will be a positive development in the stay of execution of Ms. Veloso.”

On criticisms that the government is only working on the case because Veloso’s execution is approaching, Secretary Lacierda explained that the Department of Foreign Affairs has been silently working to save her.

To Veloso’s family, Lacierda assured, “Hindi ho namin binibitawan si Mary Jane Veloso. Iyon po ang commitment namin. We are going to do everything to save the life your daughter.”

Convicted by an Indonesian court of drug trafficking, the 30-year-old Veloso was set for execution last April 29. She however obtained a last-minute reprieve after the Indonesian government was informed that her illegal recruiters had surfaced.

The Department of Justice has already filed illegal recruitment, estafa, and human trafficking charges against Veloso’s recruiters, Maria Cristina Sergio and Julius Lacanilao. PND (ag)