PIA Dispatch - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PGMA determined to achieve MDG targets

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed concerned agencies to develop strategies to attain commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The President issued the directive as she welcomed Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, the new United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Philippines.

At their meeting in Malacanang’s Music Room, President Arroyo and Badcock discussed the progress of six of the eight MDG goals and the challenges facing the Philippines and many other countries with regard to universal basic education and maternal mortality rate.

As one of the signatories of the UN Millennium Declaration of 2000, the Philippines, along with other 189 states is committed to achieve MDG goals.

MDGs is a set of clearly defined, measurable goals and targets to reduce poverty and ensure that the benefits of globalization reach everybody.

In an interview, Badcock said that President Arroyo is quite determined to make the attainment of the goals the top priority of her government.

President Arroyo, she noted, talked about developing more health facilities and building more schools.

Badcock said that these are the positive signals that the Philippine government is serious in attaining the MDG targets.

The UN, according to her, works closely with the Philippine government.

MDG aims to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, and improve maternal health; combat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Badcock, previously held the position of UN Resident Coordinator for Papua New Guinea.


Presidential prerogative to appoint national artists backed by law -- Malacanang

Malacanang maintained today President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has the prerogative to appoint national artists under a Republic act and two executive orders.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita referred to Republic Act No. 7356, which created the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), and Executive Order No. 236 of 2003, which established the Honors Code of the Philippines, and its succeeding amendment found in Executive Order No. 435 of 2005.

Ermita expressed confidence the Supreme Court will consider them when it resolves the issue with finality.

The High Court has issued an order restraining NCCA from proceeding with the conferment of this year’s National Artist Awards on certain individuals.

“We believe that the primacy of the President’s authority as the one mandated by law to make the final choice will be considered by the Supreme Court. Although we cannot dictate to the Supreme Court, I am very sure the fundamentals of these existing laws will come out,” Ermita said during his weekly briefing in Malacanang this morning.

“For as long as no law is violated and nothing illegal is done, I think the President has the final authority to confer National Artists awards on those whose names have already been submitted,” he said.


Malacanang urges NDF to reconsider position on release of 14 communist leaders

Malacanang told the National Democratic Front (NDF) to drop its demand that the government release 14 jailed communist leaders as precondition to the resumption of the peace talks.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in a press briefing that it is unfortunate that the NDF “made a 180 degree turn on the requirements for the resumption of peace talks.”

He explained the Executive Department cannot take it upon itself to quash the warrant of arrests. The 14 jailed communist leaders, he added, committed crimes punishable under the revised penal code.

“We have to follow the rule of law. That is what we told them. They said they might just as well wait for the next administration. I wonder if the next administration will ever agree to take action that will quash the warrant of arrest just like in this particular case,” Ermita said.

Despite the setback in the peace talks with the NDF, Ermita pointed out, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is determined to continue the peace process.

“The peace process continues to be open and we wish that they will reconsider their position,” he added.

NDF is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New Peoples’ Army (NPA).

The government panel has lifted the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) leading to the release from detention of two of NDF’s consultants.

Talks between the GRP and NDF collapsed in 2005 after the United States and the European Union (EU) tagged NPA as a terrorist organization.


DOTC, LTFRB lay out corrective measures for PTOs

The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) and The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have laid out proposed corrective measures for public transport operators(PTOs) involved in road accidents as part of its road safety advocacy and in light of the marked increase in road accidents involving public utility vehicles.

The proposed corrective measures for PTOs involved in road mishaps would include the following: preventive suspension of franchise of the unit involved in the incident for at least one month; fleet motor vehicle inspection at the LTO Motor Vehicles Inspection Center; drivers seminar on company's account using the UP National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) module on Drivers' Training on Road Safety; drug testing for all drivers of the company; and performance audit of the company.

DOTC Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza pointed out "these steps are necessary to ensure the safety of road users."

Mendoza also said: "We have also planned additional programs for the next few months. We will be imposing additional requirement for public transport operators such as attendance to Short Courses on PTOs as a requisite for availing of new and renewal of franchise."

"Immediately, we are conducting a refresher course on Public Transport Operation for all operators of all modes of transport. We will also be holding a Public Transport Forum before the end of September," he revealed.

"We are calling for an emergency meeting with the public transport operators to address the recent increasing trend in road accidents involving public utility vehicles. The safety of the passengers is of paramount concern. We do not want a repeat of the collision between the Lucena Bus Lines and Bragais Liner Bus along the diversion road of the Maharlika Highway in Lucena City after midnight last Sunday, which left (at least) eight fatalities and 41 injured passengers."