Thursday, September 20, 2012
FORT MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, September 21, 2012-Coinciding with the 40thanniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, President Benigno Aquino III will lead today the inauguration of Aquino-Diokno Memorial and new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Center for Human Rights Dialogue inside Fort Magsasay in Nueva Ecija.
The memorial recreates the 1973 detention facility of former Senators Benigno Aquino Jr. (Codenamed: Alpha) and Jose Diokno (Codenamed: Delta) inside the camp and honors the ideals these statesmen personified.
Moreover, AFP’s Center for Human Rights Dialogue will serve as an avenue for regular interaction between military personnel and the community in national pursuit for peace and development.
The establishment of the center demonstrates AFP’s seriousness in embracing principles of human rights.
Both structures underscore the transformation of AFP as one of the concrete gains from the 1986 EDSA people revolution that ousted a dictator. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)
MANILA, September 20, 2012-On the death anniversary of celebrated activist Leandro “Lean” Alejandro, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said that the country could use more leaders in Lean's mold.
“Lean was selfless, dedicated, brilliant, and was willing to make—and, in fact, did make—the supreme sacrifice for what he believed in,” Pangilinan shared.
Pangilinan, who was also a student activist alongside Alejandro during the Martial Law years, added that Lean's advocacy of social transformation would fit well with the country's thrust for good governance and economic progress.
“Ipinaglaban at isinabuhay ni Lean ang 'tuwid na daan' bago pa man ito naging 'buzz word.' Kung nabubuhay siya ngayon, isa siya sa mga magtataguyod nito,” the lawmaker said.
Pangilinan added that Lean had also practiced “tsinelas leadership” decades before it became a popular phrase following the death of Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo.
“Lean would go around the campus in slippers. He was a man of the masses and took up the cudgels for the poor, the marginalized, and the disempowered.”
Alejandro was generally acknowledged as the face of the anti-dictatorship movement. After the restoration of democracy, he had started to embark on a career in mainstream politics when he ran for congress in 1987. However, Alejandro was killed by an unknown assassin on September 19, 1987, cutting short what could have been a successful career in politics.
Pangilinan added, "He would have been in his 50's by now. He would have been truly great in instituting genuine reforms in government had he lived to continue his political career. We are now starting to see the fruits of those who have tirelessly labored and fought hard against tyranny and status quo that have long crippled our nation."
"The country would do well to remember and honor unheralded heroes such as Lean. Theirs is the foundation upon which we are now rebuilding our nation."
MANILA, September 20, 2012-Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the Senate’s approval on Second Reading of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Bill, which will provide substantive amendments to Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.
“Every year at least 2,000 Filipinos trafficking victims are rescued by non-government organizations. It is about time that we save Filipinos from slavery, forced labor and exploitation. The amendments to the existing Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act will aid in harmonizing our policies, building capacities of agencies, and strengthening enforcement and prosecution of human traffickers,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Legarda, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2625 or the proposed Expanded Anti-Trafficking Act of 2012, explained that the proposed measure fills voids in the existing law by expanding the enumeration of acts that promote trafficking, to include an act to destroy or tamper with evidence, to influence witnesses in an investigation, or to utilize one's public office to impede an investigation or the execution of lawful orders.
“Among its salient features are removing the privilege of confidentiality now being enjoyed by the accused in a trafficking case, extending the protection to trafficked victims in various stages of the investigation and prosecution process, and punishing acts that constitute attempted trafficking,” Legarda detailed.
“Through the expanded law, we now have a more effective legal framework in order to achieve greater degree of success in our fight against trafficking in persons. As perpetrators become more innovative in their actions, so should government be more deliberate in its efforts to strengthen policies, improve on enforcement, and enhance inter-agency coordination, both at the local and international level,” Legarda concluded.
MANILA, September 20, 2012-Senator Franklin M. Drilon debunked claims of a few groups that the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose River Project will lessen productivity of farmers and fisherfolks, and that the project, the biggest dam that will be constructed outside Luzon, will be sitting on an active fault line.
On the contrary, Drilon said the project will improve agricultural productivity which will be Iloilo’s contribution to rice self-sufficiency target of the government as it is expected to provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farm land and benefit more than 783,000 farmers.
“This project will increase the irrigated lands in the region by around 10 percent and the annual regional rice production by around five percent. It will likewise expand the production areas of sugarcane and other crops,” explained Drilon.
“Aside from being one of the most significant green projects in Panay Island in the recent years because of its pro-environment features, this project will serve as a major step in improving the agricultural productivity and ultimately secure the rice self-sufficiency for the Philippines,” he said.
Drilon added that the project will also generate approximately 17,000 local jobs equivalent to P1.3 billion in basic wages per year.
Drilon also allayed fears of Pamalakaya, People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty and Ibon Foundation on the safety of the project, reiterating that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) already issued a fault certification stating that the site of the project is not prone to ground rupture hazard brought about by movement of active fault line.
Citing a report from PHIVOLCS, Drilon said the proposed Jalaur main dam and reservoir is 11 kilometers away from the nearest active fault line in the area which is the West Panay Fault.
That, he added, is still farther than the distance of the Pantabangan Dam located across Pampanga River in Pantabangan Nueva Ecija to the nearest mapped Digdig Segment of the Philippine Fault. The measured distances of its main and secondary dams to the fault line are approximately 5.5 and 3.1 kilometers, respectively.
Quoting PHIVOLCS Director Renato U. Solidum Jr., Drilon said that even if one of the project’s component dams is situated 5km east of the fault, it is still safe from effects of an earthquake.
MANILA, September 20, 2012-Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on government to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the arrest the escalating rate of underemployment in the country.
According to the figures released by the National Statistics Office (NSO), the number of underemployed persons in July 2012 was estimated at 8.5 million, the highest since 2006.
The data further revealed that a large percentage of the underemployed were working in the services sector at 42.5% and agriculture sector at 41.5%. The underemployed in the industry sector accounted for 16%.
Angara said the government should extend financial assistance to MSMEs to help them grow and expand.
“It's important to double our merchandise and services export in order to create higher paying and better quality jobs for the new graduates and those in the countryside,” he said.
The veteran legislator noted that almost 90 percent of jobs in the country are generated by MSMEs, and doubling the merchandise and services export can create at least 9 million job opportunities.
He added that past amendments to the Magna Carta for MSMEs (RA 9150) requires lending institutions, under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, to set aside 8 percent of their loanable funds in favor of micro and small enterprises and at least 2 percent for medium enterprises.
"Sometimes, MSMEs proprietors just need a little more leeway in terms of financial support for their enterprises to flourish. The opportunity for growth must be institutionalized," explained Angara.
Meanwhile, Angara urged Philippine universities, colleges and technical-vocational institutions to work closely with the industries to ensure our schools teach the skills that industries need.
“We need to take advantage of the continuing growth in the services sector, particularly in the fast growing business process outsourcing (BPO) industry by integrating courses on Information Technology in the curricula of several universities and colleges in order to create more employment opportunities for Filipinos."
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