Aug 032016

On July 25, President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) as the 16th President of the Philippines, focusing on improved government services, tax reform, transportation, tourism and agriculture, and economic development, among others. Taking up the SONA agenda, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol has said that he is tasked with accomplishing two things — to ensure that sufficient food for Filipinos; and to stop corruption within the agency. These objectives may be achieved with the help of Republic Act (RA) No. 10845, or the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, signed by former President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on May 23, which primarily aims to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector and protect Filipino farmers and agricultural enterprises from illegal traders and importers.

Dec 012013
Palace: PNoy meeting with Customs chief Biazon set

Malacanang on Sunday confirmed that President Benigno Aquino III has called embattled Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to a private meeting, presumably to discuss being implicated in the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.  Communications Secretary Heminio Coloma said that the discussions could also include Biazon’s readiness to perform his duties despite the allegations against him.  “Ang sinabi nga po ng Pangulo, mag-uusap po sila ni Commissioner Biazon hinggil sa bagay na ito. Kaya po magkakaroon ng pag-uusap ang ating Pangulo at si Commissioner Biazon. Wari ko po’y tatalakayin ‘yung bagay na ‘yan,” Coloma said. However, when asked if Biazon still has the confidence of the President, Coloma said there have been no indications otherwise. “Wala namang indikasyon to the contrary. Ipinaliwanag ko po na simula pa ‘nung State of the Nation Address nang nagkaroon ng talakayan hinggil diyan sa bagay na ‘yan ay nailinaw naman po na hindi magbabago ang pananaw ng ating Pangulo hinggil sa kakayahan ni Commissioner Biazon na pangunahan ang Bureau of Customs,” he said.  “Sa buong daloy po ng mga pangyayari, simula pa ‘nung SONA noong 2013 hanggang po sa pagre-reorganisa ng Bureau of Customs, ay naipahiwatig naman po ng Pangulo ‘yung kanyang pagkakaroon ng buong pagtitiwala at kumpyansa sa kakayahan ni Commissioner Biazon,” Coloma said. Biazon, Muntinlupa representative from 2001 to 2010 and a party-mate of President Benigno Aquino, was the most surprising name among the 34 individuals comprising the second batch of criminal complaints in the PDAF scam. The cases were filed Friday morning.  Meanwhile, Read More …

Jul 242013
Bill filed to allow foreign vessels greater flexibility in Philippine waters

Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of the second district of Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday filed a bill that will remove restrictions on foreign vessels entering the country. “[Should it be passed,] this bill will bring goods here. It will remove all limitations, and will allow foreign vessels to travel port by port,” Rodriguez told GMA News Online. House Bill 1789, or “An Act Allowing Foreign Vessels to Engage in Coastwise Trade in the Country and for other purposes,” otherwise known as the “Coastwise Trade Act of 2013,” repeals the Cabotage law. In his State of the Nation Address, President Benigno Aquino III also mentioned that he wants to see Congress amend the law. The Cabotage Law prohibits foreign vessels from serving domestic shipment routes, but Aquino said amendments will increase competition and strengthen industries. “Mapapalakas po nito ang kompetisyon,” he said. Rodriguez explained that with the passage of the Coastwise Trade Act of 2013, foreign vessels will be allowed more flexibility in Philippine waters, thereby ending the practice of foreign ships of using other nearby ports with less restrictions. “The problem right now is that while [foreign vessels] can enter the country through one port, it’s very expensive to travel for example from Mindanao to Luzon. In contrast, it’s very cheap to move from Hong Kong to Luzon,” he said. Rodriguez also explained that a similar bill was filed in the 15th Congress, but that it failed to pass. “This bill was filed in the previous Congress, but we have refiled it, Read More …

Jul 232013
Customs exec Danilo Lim quits post a day after SONA

(Updated 9 p.m.) Saying he agrees with President Benigno Aquino III’s observation on the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Danilo Lim, the bureau’s deputy commissioner for intelligence, tendered his resignation Tuesday. “I agree with the President’s SONA observation that the Bureau has not performed in accordance with the expectations of the people,” Lim said in a statement. “In view of this, I see no other recourse but to leave this office.” The BOC was one of the three government agencies Aquino scolded during his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday. The others were the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).  Immediately after Aquino’s SONA, Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon offered his resignation, but it was rejected by the President. According to Lim, as a member of the Cabinet, he is “privy to the truths that ring out in (Aquino’s) speech and am profoundly moved.” “It is in this spirit that I tendered my resignation as Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence of the Bureau of Customs,” said the retired military general who was involved in several coup attempts in the past, including one against Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1989. Lim said this was not the first time he asked to be removed from his post in the BOC, which he held for 22 months. “During my tenure, (Executive) Secretary Pacquito Ochoa will attest that I had asked to be relieved of my duties no less than six times, and in all those times Read More …

Jul 232013
GMA News' SONA 2013 coverage most viewed nationwide — Nielsen

GMA News and Public Affairs’ comprehensive live coverage of President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) topped overall television household ratings on July 22 based on overnight data, according to the industry’s leading ratings service provider, Nielsen TV Audience Measurement. Anchored by GMA News pillars Mel Tiangco and Mike Enriquez, GMA-7’s live coverage bested rival network ABS-CBN in National Urban TV Audience Measurement (NUTAM), Urban Luzon, and Mega Manila ratings. GMA-7’s “SONA 2013” scored an average household rating of 12.8 percent in NUTAM compared to ABS-CBN’s “Sa Gitna Ng Daang Matuwid” with only 12.1 percent. In Urban Luzon, GMA-7’s coverage emerged as the preferred choice with 15.0 percent, ahead of ABS-CBN’s, which only managed 10.3 percent. The Network also triumphed in its bailiwick Mega Manila with 16.1 percent, 5.8 points ahead of ABS-CBN’s 10.3 percent. Leading news channel GMA News TV (News TV)’s “SONA Ni PNoy” bannered by Peabody awardee and three-time Reader’s Digest Most Trusted News Presenter Jessica Soho likewise ruled over TV5’s “Pagbabago” in NUTAM, Urban Luzon, and Mega Manila. News TV recorded an average household rating of 3.2 percent in NUTAM, higher than TV5’s 3.1 percent. News TV’s “SONA Ni PNoy” also led TV5’s “Pagbabago 2013” in Urban Luzon, with 3.7 and 2.6 percent respectively. In Mega Manila, News TV delivered 4.1 percent, ahead of TV5’s 2.6 percent. GMA Network’s SONA coverage used new media platforms like YouScoop, Twitter, and Facebook to measure the public pulse, encouraging Filipinos from all walks of life Read More …

Jul 232013
Gazmin dismisses Aquino failure to mention West PH Sea row in SONA

By Frances 5:58 pm | Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013 Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin. FILE PHOTO MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Tuesday said he didn’t see the need for President Benigno Aquino III to mention the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute with China during his fourth State of the Nation Address the day before. He said the arbitration proceedings by the United Nations has started. “Well  because the process is moving, it’s been organized, the members have been organized, so the process has begun,” Gazmin told reporters in Filipino in an interview at Camp Aguinaldo. “Our legal proceedings might be affected,” he added. A five-member tribunal has been formed for the arbitration process, and the proceedings began in the Netherlands last week despite China’s refusal to cooperate. Gazmin said that China has maintained its presence in Ayungin (Second Thomas Shoal) off Palawan and Panatag (Scarborough Shoal) off Zambales, which are both well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. He said there were at least two Chinese ships monitored in the periphery of Ayungin and two Chinese Maritime Surveillance ships in Panatag. The West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) had been a longtime source of conflict in the region, with China claiming ownership of the entire area. Follow Us Recent Stories: Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart Read More …

Jul 232013
Miriam wants end to SONA fashion parade

To end what she described as the “obsession to bling” of some politicians, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday said she will propose uniform attires during the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the President. In a statement, Santiago said she will file a resolution prescribing an official uniform for members of Congress attending the SONA. “I watched TV and could not stand it.  The SONA event should be a serious time for the Congress to pick up policy directions indicated by the President.  It should not be treated as Oscar night in Hollywood, with a red carpet, where peacocks spread their tails and turn around and around, as coached by media in a feeding frenzy,” the senator said. Santiago said a simple pencil skirt and a short-sleeved barong blouse will be enough for this occasion. Santiago failed to attend the SONA for the past two years due to health reasons. In 2011, she wore a gold terno made by Filipino designer Inno Sotto to the event. The senator admitted that she “was once a clueless participant in those mindless events.” “The highlight of the SONA is the President. It is not the flashy women. Now the flaky men are even getting into the act. They also parade, sometimes with photogenic arm candy, into the session hall and preen like their female counterparts. Enough!” Santiago said. Santiago also reminded her fellow politicians that under the Civil Code, “thoughtless extravagance” may be stopped by courts “during a period of acute Read More …

Jul 232013
Palace on 'missing' SONA items: PNoy can't include everything

PNoy: Napakasarap maging Pilipino sa panahong ito. President Benigno Aquino III delivers his State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives on Monday, July 22. Joe Galvez Several issues were obviously left out of President Benigno Aquino III’s fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), but a Palace spokesperson on Tuesday said this was only natural. “Given the limited amount of time… Meron nga pong suggestion na baka daw po dapat mag-checklist na lang si Pangulo, tapos banggitin lahat ng sektor. Pero kung gagawin po natin ‘yon ay baka dalawang araw din po tayong nagso-SONA,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during a press briefing on Tuesday.   She likewise said it was the “judgment” of the President which items can and can be mentioned. But she quickly noted that non-inclusion in the SONA does not mean that the issue is being ignored by the administration. “Hindi naman po ibig sabihin na hindi nabanggit ay wala po tayong ginagawa o kaya’y hindi po ‘yan importante din sa atin. Binanggit po ‘yon ng Pangulo, in reference to the supposed MRT scam and ‘yung PDAF scam. Malinaw naman po ‘yung sinabi ng Pangulo na iniisip ‘nung iba na wala tayong ginagawa kasi hindi natin nababanggit, pero hindi naman po totoo ‘yon,” she said. Among the issues which were not mentioned by Aquino in his speech is the country’s row with China, which Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert del Rosario said was a good call. —KG, GMA News

Jul 232013
Palace defends decision to keep Biazon as Customs chief

(Updated 3:17 p.m.) Malacañang on Tuesday defended President Benigno Aquino III’s decision not to accept Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon’s resignation despite the President’s negative comments about the bureau on his State of the Nation Address (SONA). “As Commissioner Biazon had already shared on his Twitter account yesterday, the President’s response that the confidence remains, as both gentlemen know the challenges and as well as the limitations that are being faced by… Biazon in the Bureau of Customs, and that the confidence in the commissioner remains,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said at a press briefing. The Bureau of Customs (BOC) was one of the three government agencies scolded by Aquino during his fourth SONA for supposed mediocre work. The others were the Bureau of Immigration and the National Irrigation Administration. Right after the SONA, Biazon, on his Twitter account, said he offered his resignation to Aquino but that the President said his confidence in him “remains the same.” The heads of the other agencies that were publicly berated by the President had either resigned or had not been reappointed. Biazon, for his part, said he will stay with the BOC as long as Aquino’s confidence in his remains. “Kung nandiyan pa ang kumpyansa ng pangulo, mananatili tayo,” he said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News To Go” on Tuesday. Sacrificial lamb But he also expressed ambivalence, noting that he is thinking if keeping the post “is all worth it.” “Pinag-iisipan ko rin if this is all worth it Read More …