13 June 2015

President Aquino leads traditional ‘Vin d’Honneur’ commemorating 117th Philippine Independence
(ILOILO CITY, Iloilo) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday trumpeted the government’s achievements, as he pledged to the international community the country’s commitment towards building a true community of nations.

In his toast during the traditional Vin d’Honneur in celebration of the country’s 117th Independence Day at the Casa Real de Iloilo here, President Aquino heralded the government’s accomplishments, citing the budget increases for social welfare, health, and education since 2010, as well as the administration’s economic achievements, including the record-high US$6 billion in net foreign direct investments the country received last year.“My country has indeed achieved so much, yet we did not do this all on our own. We reached our goals sooner because of the international community, who recognized our earnest efforts and saw an honest government and a people truly worth helping,” he said.

“This, in turn, breeds in us a debt of gratitude—what we call utang na loob—shown in our determination to do our share to address the world’s problems,” the President told members of the Diplomatic Corps and government officials.

President Aquino thanked the international community for its support that contributed to the country’s transformation.

In his message, the President called on nations to work together to address the world’s problems.

“Fostering even greater cooperation amongst all nations need not even be on the basis of our universal rights or of altruism. Any practical mind would recognize that we must be concerned with our brother by necessity, especially in this shrinking world, where problems are less and less localized, and more and more common,” he said.

The Chief Executive cited the phenomenon of pandemics, the issue of displacement, terrorism and climate change.

“Instability, conflict, and chaos in other parts of the world will eventually make their effects felt on our shores. Doing nothing about the problem will force us one day to confront it when it is far more complex and unmanageable, and can no longer be ignored,” he said.

“That is why we choose to work with partners like your good selves to address the situation at its point of origin, and therefore prevent successive problems,” he added.

President Aquino likewise affirmed the country’s commitment to the task of building a true community of nations.

“Excellencies, as we are determined to join your nations in the struggle to overcome the obstacles you face, so too do we ask you to join us. In this way, we can truly forge a global community in which each nation-state realizes that their growth and stability hinge on their ability to work with others,” he said.

“This is the clearest path towards a world where there is mutual respect, where we are all bound by international law and by a single definition of our entitlements and obligations; where we are all brothers, all of equal footing, working side by side. In your presence, we pledge: the Philippines is committed to the task of building that true community of nations,” he added.

In response, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, expressed his and the diplomatic corps’ sentiments of deep gratitude at being able to join the Filipinos in celebrating the 117th Year of Philippine Independence.

“This occasion is especially favorable for renewing the friendship of our respective governments and of the international organizations to you, Mr. President, as well as to the Filipino people,” he said.

Monsignor Pinto also lauded the government for “carrying to completion the peace in Mindanao while sustaining dialogue with all the interested entities, political movements, religious and cultural groups”.

He also cited the declaration of 2015 as “Visit the Philippines Year” to promote the country as a venue for conferences, meetings and exhibitions.

“Filipinos are a people of natural hospitality, a quality that springs from their heritage and character. It is what makes the Philippines a nation worthy not only of a short visit, but as we diplomats can attest, a country that amply repays a longer stay,” he said. PND (co)

Palace lauds triumphant Filipino athletes at 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore
Malacañang congratulated on Saturday Filipino athletes who emerged triumphant in their respective campaigns at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which are currently being held in Singapore.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the gold medals bagged by our countrymen on Friday, June 12, must have felt kind of special as the Philippines was celebrating its 117th Independence Day.

“Isang masigabong palakpakan para sa ating mga atleta dahil despite the limitations that they face, they still stood there, and they still went to bear the flag,” Valte said in an interview over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

First place finishes by the men’s poomsae team in taekwondo and Christopher Ulboc in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase helped bring the Philippines’ gold medal count to 24 yesterday.

“Congratulations sa kanila. Napakalaki pong responsibilidad… It’s a very big responsibility to go out and to represent the country and they did this very well,” Valte said.

The Philippines is currently ranked sixth in the overall medal standings with 24 golds, 29 silvers, and 54 bronzes for a total of 107 medals, according to the SEA Games official website.

Host country Singapore leads the competing Southeast Asian nations at present for the most number of gold medal wins (72) followed by Thailand (71), Vietnam (64), Malaysia (39), and Indonesia (35).

The Philippine contingent is composed of 472 athletes and 136 sporting officials in 35 out of 36 sporting events in this year’s SEA Games. The competitions started on June 5 and will end on June 16.

Whether these athletes would make a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III upon their return to the country remains to be seen as Valte said she is yet to find out if a request for such has been made. PND (hdc)

Palace slams Independence Day ‘hacktivists’
Malacañang criticized on Saturday hacker activists or ‘hacktivists’ who crashed the website of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) last Friday when the nation marked its 117th Independence Day.

In an interview over Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said hacking into any website to protest against the government does not necessarily make one a responsible citizen exercising his right to freedom of speech.

“Whatever the message is, we cannot condone the hacking of any website… Kumbaga, ‘yung karapatan ng isang mamamayan na itanong sa kanyang pamahalaan kung ano na ba ang nagagawa sa isang bagay ay kailangang na-e-express within the limits provided by the Constitution and within the law,” Valte said.

Hacking the NHCP website, the so-called Global Security Hackers group posted a message questioning the efforts rendered by President Benigno S. Aquino III in his five years in office.

Claiming that they have been observing the President carefully over the past five years, the hackers asked whether he has done enough for the country by improving its economy, or if he just made it worse like what his predecessors had allegedly done.

They also sought answers from the President regarding his pledge to end corruption in government, as well as updates in the ongoing quest for justice for the 44 slain police commandos in the Mamasapano clash last January 25.

Valte said she was hoping the group did not resort to illicit means of protest such as hacking just to get their message across, as there had been many ways to reach the government these days, especially since most officials and agencies have verified social media accounts.

“Kailangan po na-e-exercise natin ang mga sarili with responsibility at hindi po doon sa ganitong pamamaraan. Marami naman pong ibang pamamaraan para maabot ang mga taong nasa pamahalaan kaya nga po tayo may mga feedback mechanism na,” Valte said.

“Kung gusto lamang nila magtanong ay madali naman po kaming makausap at mahanap, considering na marami po sa amin ay nasa social media na rin. Hindi po naman tayo mahirap maabot at handa naman po kaming sumagot sa mga ganitong tanong. Huwag lang po nating idaan sa mga ganitong pamamaraan,” she added.

Hacking is considered a criminal offense in the country under Republic Act 8792 (Electronic Commerce Act), which is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, and a fine of P100,000. PND (hdc)

Bangsamoro needs competent leaders to achieve genuine development, says official
Bringing lasting peace and change in Mindanao is not only about money that the national government pours into the region but the quality of leaders being elected during elections, a Palace official said.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is considered to be a failed experiment in attaining peace in the region. The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front agreed on a peace deal and an enabling law for its imposition is now being deliberated in Congress.

The national government allocated a huge amount of development fund to ARMM but the region remains poor even after many decades.

“Doon sa experience ng ARMM, makikita na hindi lang po talaga ‘yung pondo ang dapat pinag-uusapan kundi ‘yung kapasidad nang mga taong mahahalal at magtataguyod ng kapakanan ng isang rehiyon ang talagang mas importante,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview Saturday.

“That’s why, moving forward, remember that the crafting of the basic law, as well as the annexes, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, as well as all the negotiations had the past in mind—how to avoid the mistakes of the past, how to make sure that we avoid the pitfalls of the past,” Valte said over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Some lawmakers proposed revisions to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law but Valte reiterated the government’s commitment to keep the original draft that is being subjected to the legislative processes.

The government said the MILF is scheduled next week to undergo the first phase of the decommissioning of its weapons and combatants.

The decommissioning process will be on June 16, according to peace panel chair Miriam Coronel-Ferrer. President Aquino is expected to attend the event in Mindanao. PND (as)