Dec 062014
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte: No awkwardness. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Sunday extended its gratitude to members of the international community that have already pledged aid and emergency assistance to typhoon-battered Philippines.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview relayed Malacañang’s gratefulness to various states and institutions pledging to help the country.

“Marami na po sila. Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa ating mga kapitbahay at sa ating mga kaibigan dahil marami na po sa kanilang nag-express ng kanilang readiness and willingness to help,” Valte said.
(There are already a lot of them. We would like to thank our neighbors and our friends because many of them have already expressed their readiness and willingness to help.)

Valte also mentioned the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) as among those that have guaranteed to provide emergency aid in the wake of Typhoon Ruby.

On the countries who have pledged assistance even before the storm slammed the central Philippines, “I think America and Australia, through their respective ambassadors, have already expressed their willingness and their readiness to help,” Valte said.

When asked about who would handle the donations received from the international community, the presidential spokesperson said that it depended on which agency is granted the donation.

“Depende po ‘yan kung kaninong ahensya ibinibigay. But, siyempre, mayroon ho diyang mga chosen third party charity organizations din po nila. Depende ho, again, depende ho kung kanino ibibigay,” Valte said.
(It depends on which agency the donation is given, but of course there will be some third party charity organizations of their choosing.)

“But, certainly, the government (accounts for) every centavo that is given,” she said.

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Dec 062014
11 countries pledge aid as Ruby batters PH

A Filipino man leans on a wall as strong winds brought by Typhoon Hagupit slam Legazpi, Albay province, eastern Philippines on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. Typhoon Hagupit slammed into the central Philippines’ east coast late Saturday, knocking out power and toppling trees in a region where 650,000 people have fled to safety, still haunted by the massive death and destruction wrought by a monster storm last year. AP/Aaron Favila MANILA, Philippines–As Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) lashes the Philippines, 11 countries have already pledged to provide emergency assistance, military chief General Gregorio Pio Catapang said. In a press briefing Sunday, Catapang said the United States, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Brunei, China, Malaysia and Thailand pledged to help the country in its relief and rehabilitation efforts. “These countries have signified their pledge to assist us,” Catapang said in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headquarters inside Camp Aguinaldo. He added that a team from the Philippine Air Force are in Borongan Airport to assess the situation in the area while Catarman Airport would be used as a temporary hub for C-130 planes to land. The C-130 planes would stay in Catarman for the immediate distribution of relief goods in Eastern Visayas, where Ruby was first felt. As of 10 a.m., Ruby was located at 20 kilometers east of Cataingan, Masbate and packing maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour and gusts of 170 kph. Ruby made its first landfall in Dolores, Samar on Saturday evening Read More …

Dec 062014
Typhoon Ruby sparks calls for climate action

This image made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Typhoon Hagupit on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, as it approaches the Philippines. The ferocious and dangerously erratic typhoon is blowing closer to the Philippines as differing forecasts about its path prompt a wide swath of the country to prepare for a weekend of destructive winds and rain. AP Photo/NOAA LIMA, Peru–While loved ones braced for the full impact of Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) back home, Filipino activists in Lima urged climate negotiators Saturday to act with more urgency in drafting a global plan to limit such potentially life-threatening events. “To us in the Philippines, we are not any more debating on whether or not the impacts of climate change are here, we have experienced it,” Voltaire Alferez of the Aksyon Klima Pilipinas NGO grouping said on the sidelines of the talks. “Year after year we are bombarded… from one typhoon to another,” he told AFP as his wife and son of one year left their Manila home for the relative safety of higher ground. This is the third typhoon in a row to hit the Philippines during the annual, ministerial-level climate negotiations towards a new, global pact to limit climate harm by curbing Earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Last year, Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit while talks were under way in Warsaw, killing 7,350 people, and Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) claimed 600 lives during negotiations in Doha in 2012. Climate change It is never possible to attribute any individual weather event to Read More …

Nov 212014
Palace denies blacklisting of HK journalists

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–Malacañang on Friday denied reports that Hong-Kong based journalists were barred from entering the Philippines for heckling President Benigno Aquino III in Indonesia last year. “According to Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Siegfred Mison, there is no such ‘blacklist’ of journalists who are denied entry to the Philippines on account of their actions during the Apec summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement. Reports from news websites, such as the South China Morning Post, said the nine journalists were forced to return to Hong Kong after being denied entry. One of them, Now TV cameraman Eric Lee Kwok-keung, was given a letter from the airline he traveled with. The letter, published by SCMP, said the Office of the President requested that the nine be prevented from entering the country and from covering the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila for the “heckling of President Benigno S. Aquino III during the latter’s visit to Bali, Indonesia during the October last year CEO Summit.” But Coloma insisted that the “specific actions attributed to the journalists in the 2013 APEC summit, is not one of the grounds for denial of entry into the country.” He said the BI will verify from its records if indeed the cameraman was denied entry. “The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), which is the office that gives accreditation to international and Filipino journalists covering official government events, has not started the Read More …

Nov 212014
Study: Terrorism-related deaths in PH more than doubled in 2013

Screengrab from http://www.visionofhumanity.org While the use of bombs and other explosives are more common in other countries, terrorist activities in the Philippines involve armed assaults and assassinations. Cotabato City in Mindanao recorded the most number of terrorist activities. The study said that military force eliminated only 7 percent of terrorist cases. MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 300 people died due to terrorist activities in 2013, making it one of the countries worst affected by terrorism, a think tank said in a report. Out of 162 countries, the Philippines ranked 9th in the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Terrorism Index for 2013. The report said that that there were 292 recorded deaths and 444 injuries of the 499 incidents in the Philippines in the past year. The number of fatalities more than doubled from the 122 recorded in 2012. The study said The number of terrorist cases in 2012 also grew by almost twice as much in 2013. Most of the seven known groups that carried out a terrorist attack in the past year was made by the New People’s Army of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group. However, 30 percent of the deaths from terrorism in 2013 was carried out by the NPA. “Terrorism in the Philippines is intrinsically tied with nationalist and separatist claims by people living in provinces in southern Philippines,” the report said. “Armed assault represented nearly half of all fatalities, followed by assassinations, which constituted Read More …

Oct 112014
Filipinos’ prayer for Pope Francis: Good health, guidance

By Marielle Medina |Inquirer Research 3:53 am | Sunday, October 12th, 2014 FAITH CAN’T WAIT Pope Francis, who is visiting the country in January, radiates such a charm that even a standee of his image is sooo “selfie”-worthy for these law students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila shown taking a snapshot at the Arzobispado de Manila (Archdiocesan Chancery Office) in Intramuros. RICHARD REYES Ninety-five days leading up to the papal visit, the faithful are praying for Pope Francis’ good health and safety, especially during his visit to the country. Three out of every five prayers for Pope Francis submitted by readers to the Inquirer are prayers for the 77-year-old Pontiff’s continuous good health. The “Prayer for the Pope” feature is part of the Inquirer’s 100-day countdown to the papal visit to the country and as a response to Pope Francis’ tweet on his official Twitter account @Pontifex, “Please pray for me,” during the anniversary of his election as the 266th Bishop of Rome. The question: What is your prayer for the Pope? “Long, healthy life for our Pope Francis to serve the world and our God more,” Kathlyn Atienza said. “I pray for the good health, strength and constant guidance of the Holy Spirit for Pope Francis, as he is becoming an effective agent of transformation in the Catholic Church,” said Fr. Paul Arnel Lucero, SMM, from New Manila, Quezon City. “I pray that the Pope will always be healthy and be blessed by the Lord. May the Pope Read More …

Oct 032014
Even in Malaysia, fixers abound as DFA warns prospective OFWs

By Matikas Santos |INQUIRER.net 6:01 pm | Friday, October 3rd, 2014 MANILA, Philippines — Even in Malaysia, fixers are preying on unwitting Filipinos who are applying for passport and other services. “It has come to the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur’s attention that there are individuals and agencies which are offering to assist Filipino nationals in applying for passports or other Embassy services in exchange for money,” the embassy said in a statement Friday. “The Embassy wishes to inform the public that applicants can apply for passports or other Embassy services without the need for third parties to facilitate the application process,” it said. The embassy has not accredited any individual or agency to conduct business in their behalf, the statement said. “The public is advised to deal only with Embassy personnel inside the premises. Embassy personnel could be identified through their official Embassy IDs,” the embassy said. “The Embassy encourages those who have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals or agencies to come forward and report violations of these official policies to the Consular Section,” it said. There are more than 686,000 Filipinos in Malaysia according to December 2012 figures of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. Majority of them, around 447,000 are irregular or undocumented Filipinos. There are more than 212,000 who are temporary or have work contracts and 26,000 who are permanent. Many Filipinos are able to get into the Malaysian province of Sabah illegally through the border near the Tawi-tawi islands in Mindanao. RELATED STORIES DFA warns Filipinos Read More …

Oct 032014
Aquino creates committee on papal visit

Pope Francis. AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines–President Benigno Aquino III has ordered the creation of a committee that will coordinate preparations for Pope Francis’ visit in January 2015. In Memorandum Circular No. 72, Aquino created Papal Visit 2015-National Organizing Committee (PV-NOC). “As instructed by President Aquino, all heads of the different government departments, local governments as well as the private sectors are encouraged to participate and coordinate all efforts to make sure that the visit of His Holiness in our country next year will be well organized and peaceful,” Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said in a statement on Friday. The committee will be chaired by Ochoa, and vice-chaired by the Foreign Affairs Secretary. Among the members are the Secretaries of the Departments of National Defense, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Health, Transportation and Communications, Tourism, the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Armed Forces Chief of Staff, National Police Chief, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman. It will coordinate the efforts of the public and private sectors, including the central committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, which will lead the religious and civil plans of the visit. Pope Francis is set to visit the victims of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” in Leyte and of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Bohol. RELATED STORY PH peacekeepers new mission: Secure Pope Francis, APEC 2015 Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of INQUIRER.net. We reserve the Read More …

Sep 122014
Aquino visit to France seen to reap ‘economic, political, cultural gains’

By Matikas Santos |INQUIRER.net 5:11 pm | Friday, September 12th, 2014 Ambassador Gilles Garachon. AFP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The French Ambassador to the Philippines sees the upcoming visit of President Benigno Aquino III to France as a big boost to the diplomatic relations of both countries. “President Aquino’s trip to France, as well as to the other European countries and to the European Union (EU), shows the existing partnership between our governments, as well as the continuing friendship between our peoples,” Ambassador Gilles Garachon said in a statement Friday. “This visit is expected to reap economic, political, and cultural gains for both our countries, which we hope would lead to greater opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Perhaps next year, we could see a visit by French President François Hollande to the Philippines,” he said. Aquino will be travelling to four countries in Europe: Belgium, France, Spain, and Germany from Sept. 13 to 20. After Europe, Aquino will fly to the United States, where he will visit Boston, New York, and San Francisco from Septemer 20 to 23. This is Aquino’s first trip as Philippine president to the European countries. Diplomatic relations between Philippines and France were first formalized in 1947. There are at least 51,000 Filipinos in France as of December 2012 figures of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. The majority of them, around 42,000, are irregular in status while there are 8,600 permanent and 1,000 temporary Filipinos in France. “Today, we are witnessing an exciting phase in bilateral Read More …

Sep 122014
DFA assures China nationals are safe in PH

By Matikas Santos |INQUIRER.net 4:57 pm | Friday, September 12th, 2014 DFA Assistant Secretary and spokesman Charles Jose. AP FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has assured the Chinese Foreign Ministry of the safety of Chinese nationals in the Philippines despite reported threats. “We would like to reiterate that the Department has reassured the Chinese Embassy of appropriate and necessary protection to guard against threats and prevent any violent incidents,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement Friday. “We have also reassured them that the appropriate Philippine authorities are fully investigating the group associated with the three suspects of the NAIA Terminal 3 incident on September 1, 2014,” he said. China published a security advisory on their Ministry of Foreign Affairs website Friday asking Chinese nationals not to travel to the Philippines because of threats. “Given that the safety situation in the Philippines is deteriorating, the consular service of the foreign ministry is asking Chinese nationals not to travel to the Philippines for the time being,” the security advisory said. A group had attempted to bomb NAIA Terminal 3 with incendiary devices. The airport was just one of their planned targets which include the Chinese Embassy, Chinese businesses, and a major mall. The group reportedly was not satisfied with the government’s steps in the country’s maritime dispute in the South China Sea with China. RELATED STORIES China issues travel warning for the Philippines Chinese teenager kidnapped in Zamboanga Sibugay Group behind Naia bomb try Read More …