16 July 2015

President Aquino commends outgoing Police Chief Espina during change of command rites
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday expressed his gratitude to Police Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina for leading the police during his seven-month stint as Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The President led the PNP Change of Command ceremony and the retirement honors for Espina in Camp Crame.

In his speech during the event, the President praised Espina for his humility and dedication even during very challenging times.

Spelling out the PNP’s successes under Espina’s watch, President Aquino cited the apprehension of Miguel Omayao, a ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front’s (CPP-NPA-NDF) West Central Mindanao Front.

He also noted the capture or neutralization of such criminal gangs as the Bathala Drug group and 17,300 wanted individuals, as well as the good coordination between the police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to ensure peace and order across the country.

The PNP-AFP coordination resulted in the arrest of communist leaders Ruben Saluta, Emmanuel Bacarra, and Rodrigo Tayasan, as well as notorious terrorist Mohamad Ali Tambako and four others, the President said.

“Dindo, sa maikling panahon na ika’y naglingkod bilang OIC, at sa ibang naging tungkulin mo gaya ng magsilbi kang hepe ng NCRPO (National Capital Region Police Office), ipinamalas mo ang galing at propesyonalismong hinihiling sa mga tagapagtupad ng batas,” he said, addressing Espina.

“Sa araw na ito, tanggapin mo ang taos-pusong pasasalamat ng sambayanan para sa lahat ng iyong sakripisyo’t pagsisikap.”

Espina, he said, is leaving a legacy of a more effective police force.

As the new PNP chief, Police Director General Ricardo Marquez, takes over, the President said he expects him to continue the reforms that Espina has begun.

This includes cleaning the police ranks, and ensuring an honest and credible presidential election next year.

President Aquino also assured the police force that the government is striving to improve their capabilities and equipment, as well as their benefits.

Part of this, he said, is to attain the 1:1 police-to-pistol ratio, the first in PNP’s history, as well as the implementation of the PNP Capability Enhancement Program and the enhancement of the police’s ability to effectively “shoot, scoot, and communicate”.

The government is also working to give policemen affordable and decent housing and fix their pension system, he added.

President Aquino called on the members of the PNP to remain committed to their oath to attain national progress.

“Sa patuloy na pagtupad sa inyong tungkulin, tumutulong kayong hubugin ang kinabukasan na karapat-dapat para sa ating lahat,” he said.
“Tama lang po na ibuhos natin ang lahat ng magagawa natin, para tiyak na maipamana ang isang mas magandang Pilipinas sa susunod na salinlahi: Isang bansa na mas mapayapa, mas ligtas, at mas matatayog ang inaabot na pangarap.” PND (as)

President Aquino elated over ‘big pool’ of possible successors
President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday he is pleased that there are a number of qualified people who could succeed him as chief executive when he steps down from office next year.

The President had a six-hour meeting with Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero and Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II on Wednesday night.

In an interview that followed the ceremony to install Police Director General Ricardo Marquez as new chief of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, the President said he is close to announcing who he would endorse in next year’s presidential election.

And like the rest of the public, he said he too is excited about it, especially upon knowing that there are a lot of leaders who will continue his administration’s reform programs.

“Siyempre ‘yung batayan natin kung maayos ‘yung ating naging palakad, ‘yung success raw.., kino-quote ko sa English: ‘Success can be measured by your ability to train your successor or to name your successor or to choose your successor,'” the President told reporters.

“And I am very glad that there is such a big pool of people who will continue the struggle to really get our people to where they should be.”

On the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting, the President said they all agreed that the country has improved a lot in the past five years and that there is a need to continue the reforms under the present government.

The main goal is to ensure the continuance of the country’s transformation so that more people would benefit from a more progressive Philippines, he said.

The Chief Executive noted that he will continue to meet with different people and organizations in the coming days to know their pulse.

“Today, I’m talking with the LP party hierarchy, amongst others. I keep on talking to and I will continue to talk to various other groups and other personalities, not just for the top positions but also the senatorial slate and at some point in time, even the local slates,” he said.

“Ang gusto natin talagang maparami ay ang mga kaagapay o mga kasamahan na tutulong dito sa pagpapanatili ng tuwid na daan.”

The President is expected to announce his presidential bet after his state-of-the nation address (SONA) on July 27.

Based on recent surveys, Grace Poe is the front runner among the possible presidential candidates. Chiz Escudero tops the possible contenders for Vice President. PND (as)

President Aquino witnesses handover of CALA Expressway partial concession payment to public works department
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday witnessed the turnover of the P5.4 billion check from MPCALA Holdings Inc. to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the construction of the Cavite-Laguna Expressway project.

The P5.4 billion check was handed over by Metro Pacific Investments Corp. Chairman Manny Pangilinan to Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson in Malacañang.

The CALA project was awarded to MPCALA following a competitive public bidding process, with MPCALA being declared the highest complying bidder with its P27.3 billion concession fee offer to the government under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).

The P5.4 billion is 20 percent of the concession paid by MPCALA to the DPWH upon winning the project. The total project cost, including the concession fees, is about P55 billion.

A subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., through the Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp., MPCALA signed the concession agreement with the DPWH last July 10.

Under the concession agreement, MPCALA is given the concession to design, finance, construct, operate and maintain the CALA Expressway, including the right to collect toll fees over a 35-year concession period.

The CALA Expressway, a 45-kilometer, four-lane tolled expressway, was identified by the Feasibility Study and Implementation Support on CALA East-West National Road projects between the DPWH and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The study, which contained the DPWH’s medium-term corollary transport investment program, was completed in 2006.

It was also identified as one of the critical infrastructure components in the Study of the Master Plan on High Standards Highway Network Development being implemented by the DPWH.

The project is also among the government’s priority projects from the PPP program launched in November 2010.

The CALA Expressway will traverse the eastern to mid-section of Cavite, which is mostly agrarian with some residential and industrial areas, and Laguna’s residential and industrial areas in the west.

The project will provide a faster and more convenient route from Metro Manila to Laguna, Cavite, and nearby provinces and vice versa. PND (as)

National Economic and Development Authority Board approves major infrastructure projects
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board, chaired by President Benigno S. Aquino III, has approved several major infrastructure projects that are expected to spur economic development in the country.

Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said that among the projects approved during the 18th NEDA Board meeting on Wednesday, was the Phase II of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Expressway Project.

The project, to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), involves the transfer of alignment from the Domestic Road to the Paranaque River/Electrical Road in one section of the ongoing project. The P2.04 billion project will be funded by the national budget.

Also approved during the meeting was the P223 million Daang Hari – SLEX Link Road Project of the DPWH. This involves the improvement of access to the road network in the Daang Hari project that is nearing completion.

The Board also approved the P1.58 billion Civil Registry System Information Technology Project of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The project, which will undergo competitive public bidding, involves the computerization of the civil registry operations of the PSA and is designed to collect, store, maintain, and manage civil registry documents and the specimen signatures of all city and municipal registrars using imaging technology.

This will also include the production of vital statistics and will make the civil registry services available nationwide through the Civil Registry System outlets and other authorized partners.

Secretary Coloma said the NEDA Board scheduled further discussions on the Bonifacio Global City and Ortigas Road Link Project, which will decongest traffic at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and the C5 Road. PND (as)