2.18.2013

PIA News Service - Monday, February 18, 2013



150 years of humanitarian action in the midst of armed conflict

GENEVA (ICRC) -- On 17 February, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) marked its 150th anniversary and commemorate the beginning of its efforts to bring relief to millions and improve the lives of countless people adversely affected by armed conflict. At a time when people are suffering the agonies of war in Syria, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, the ICRC is more determined than ever to carry on with its humanitarian mission.

"This anniversary provides us with an opportunity to look critically at our past, and also to develop awareness of the strengths that have helped us in our activities carried out for millions of victims of armed conflict and other violence," said Peter Maurer, president of the ICRC.

"Now more than ever, we must not only remain true to our principles but also search for new ways to better serve the people who need help. We must redouble our efforts to make sure that the neutral, impartial and independent nature of our humanitarian activities is understood by all."

The ICRC continues to adapt to new forms of armed conflict and to a number of challenges confronting humanitarian activities.

"We are carrying on with our work in an environment that is being shaped by the use of new weapons and technologies, the proliferation of armed groups, the difficulty of obtaining access to people requiring aid, and a plethora of NGOs and other humanitarian organizations endeavouring to serve communities with competing approaches," said the ICRC president.

"Together with our partners within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the broader humanitarian community, we must seek ways of meeting these challenges," said the ICRC president.

"We have to better coordinate humanitarian efforts, and pay very careful attention to the opinions of those we are seeking to help – and give them the opportunity to play an active role in these efforts, the ultimate aim of which is to enable people in need to achieve a lasting recovery.''

The biggest challenge facing the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations is a lack of respect for international humanitarian law, which prohibits violence directed against people who are not involved in armed conflict, like children, the wounded or sick, or detainees. "The need for a strong political will to spare civilians and otherwise comply with international humanitarian law, whether on the part of States or of non-State armed groups, has never been greater," said Mr Maurer.

Many of the ICRC's everyday activities now have far-reaching effects. "When ICRC delegates visit detainees in Guantanamo, or facilitate the release of hostages in Colombia, or help people in Afghanistan obtain health care in safe conditions, or provide the maintenance and technical know-how that keep the water and electricity networks up and running in Goma, a city of half a million people, or push for a binding international treaty on cluster munitions, they have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of many people," said Maurer.

"The vision of Henry Dunant – the Red Cross idea – has not only survived but flourished through all these long years," said Maurer.

"Over the past century and a half, the ICRC has overcome political adversity, financial difficulty, cultural barriers and countless other obstacles, even attacks on its own staff to bring vitally needed humanitarian assistance and protection to people in need." Once quite small with an entirely Swiss staff, the ICRC now performs its humanitarian tasks in over 90 countries all over the world, and has a workforce of almost 13,000 men and women of over 100 different nationalities.

In the Philippines, the ICRC has been present for more than 60 years and carries out a broad range of humanitarian activities for the vulnerable populations adversely affected by armed conflicts or other situations of violence. (ICRC/PIA-Caraga)


NEDA chief bullish about Mindanao development

DAVAO CITY, Feb. 18 – The country’s socioeconomic planning secretary has expressed optimism on Mindanao’s economic growth, saying it may still surpass other local economies in the Philippines should the island-region maximizes its full economic potentials.

“Mindanao has the capacity to surpass local economies of Luzon if the region can harness its potentials to the fullest,” said Arsenio Balisacan, Director-General of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Balisacan cited Caraga Region, located in the northeastern part of Mindanao as one of the country’s fastest growing regions with an accelerated growth rate of 9.6 percent in 2011. Other regions in the country that posted encouraging growth rates include Central Visayas with 7.9 percent and Central Luzon with 7.5 percent.

The provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, and the six cities of Bayugan, Bislig, Butuan, Cabadbaran, Surigao, and Tandag comprise Caraga Region.

At the first Mindanao Development Forum (MDF) held here recently, Balisacan said that among Mindanao’s strong potentials rest in the agri-industry sector, particularly in the export of rubber, pineapple, banana, coffee and organic agriculture products, which command high demand in the global market.

In the Mindanao Development Report presented by Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Luwalhati Antonino, also at the first MDF, the island-region recorded 94 percent self sufficiency on staple food with rice domestic output of 66.91 percent, while other staples, which include corn and other root crops posting at 27.13 percent.

Growth rate in the export of coconut-based products was also recorded at 39.11 percent, while bananas registered a growth rate of 42.22 percent. Other agricultural products such as pineapples and tuna marked steady increases at 55.33 percent and 3.46 percent respectively.

Antonino also cited Mindanao’s foreign trade expanding by 69.5 percent in 2011, which translated to increased export earnings by 74.48 percent. The US remains as the region’s top export market cornering 33.31 percent of Mindanao’s total exports, followed by China with 17.56 percent; the Netherlands 17.46 percent and Japan 17.23 percent.

“Mindanao has so much economic potential that could spur higher growth for our country and contribute immensely in the attainment of the inclusive development agenda,” said Balisacan, adding that to achieve this, Mindanao must identify new players in the region in order to increase and spread growth more equitably.

He also said the National government has initiated market facilitation activities including market matching to assist agriculture growers in entering in agreements with buyers and in opening more markets for their products such as United States, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Middle East and the Gulf Region, and parts of the EU.

Late last year, MinDA organized a business networking forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which clinched for Mindanao an estimated investment commitments of P23 billion. Sixteen business deals were secured and are expected to be actualized in the next two to three years which will provide more than 89,000 jobs to Mindanawons.

The business networking was a side event to the 1st BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Consumer Fair in Melaka, Malaysia held from November 30 to December 2, 2012.

BIMP-EAGA stands for Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area, while the IMT-GT stands for Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle.

“These developments indicate Mindanao’s encouraging performance,” said Antonino, stressing that the Board of Investments (BOI)-approved businesses in Mindanao posted a 719 percent increase in 2011.

She added that the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) last year opened opportunity for the Bangsamoro area to effectively respond to the socioeconomic prospects that are abound in both domestic and international markets, and with the BIMP-EAGA as the integration platform.

“With the improvements in the peace and order situation and the stability that comes with it, we must take advantage of the situation to get these economic activities going in Mindanao,” Antonino added.

The first MDF, which gathered more than 300 Mindanao key stakeholders and representatives from national agencies and local government units, Official Development Assistance (ODA) agencies, diplomatic, and international communities, academe, the civil society groups, and private and the business sector served as a venue to provide platform for dialogue and discourse on Mindanao’s development agenda. (MinDA/PIA-Caraga)


Cebuano News: Malakanyang kumpiyansa nga kaya sa Comelec mopahigayon sa luwas ug hapsay nga piniliay

Ni Susil D. Ragas

SURIGAO CITY, Peb. 18 (PIA) – Gipadayag sa Malakanyang kagahapon nga ang Commission on Elections (Comelec) makahimo pagpahigayon og luwas, ligdong ug hapsay nga piniliay karong 2013 national ug local midterm eleksyon sa umaabot nga Mayo.

Sumala pa ni Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte nga Comelec lamang ang maoy konstitusyunal body nga gitahasan aron mopahigayon sa maong mandato ug kini atong gisalig kanila nga mahimo gyud nila ang pagpahigayon og usa ka hapsay nga piniliay.

Samtang giseguro usab sa Comelec pinaagi ni Chairman Sixto Brillantes nga madayon ang pagpahigayon sa automated election karong Mayo human usab ang pag-aprubar gikan sa Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC), nga maoy gitahasan pinaagi sa Republic Act 9369 aron maoy morebyu ug mo certify sa sistema sa automated election, pinaagi sa mock polls nga gipahigayon sa 20 ka mga voting centers sulod sa nasod.

Ang komitiba sa TEC gilangkoban sa Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Commission on Informarion and Communications Technology. (PIA-Surigao del Norte)