Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Senate urges political leaders to heed Pope’s call for simple living

MANILA-The Senate has adopted a resolution urging political leaders to heed the call of the Pope to live simply and in “outstanding honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.”

            Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who introduced Resolution 1110, said the Pope’s call for all to live simply is relevant since the Philippines faces the challenges of achieving inclusive growth, which despite the sincere efforts of the government today, still eludes a significant percentage of our population who continue to live in poverty and want.

Senate President Franklin Drilon also said that the Filipinos need and deserve leaders who will make true of the Pope’s assertion that public governance is one of the highest forms of charity: “Public service is not about power or control, it is about uplifting our people from poverty and hopelessness.”  

            Pimentel cited a 2014 report from the Philippine Statistics Authority which showed poverty incidence at 25 percent since 2003.

In a population of 100 million people, that would translate into some 25 million poor Filipinos who are marginalized, robbed of their dignity and stripped of their basic human rights, according to Pimentel.

He said Pope Francis also challenged everyone, at all levels of society, “to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor.”

            “The year 2015 has been declared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) as the Year of the Poor, to respond positively to the papal challenge for us to live simply, it behoves our political leaders to show the way by their living with honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good so that our nation’s resources are channelled properly to benefit the people, especially the poor, in a culture where the human rights and dignity of everyone are cherished and respected, and justice is done to them whatever their station in life may be,” Pimentel said.

            Meanwhile, the Senate also adopted Resolution 1044, expressing its full support to the review of peacekeeping operations and special political missions conducted by the United Nations in the light of changes in the geopolitical landscape and risks faced by UN international missions.

            Sen. Loren Legarda, who introduced the resolution, said that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had announced last year the creation of a high Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations which will review issues such as the changing nature of conflict, evolving mandates, peace building challenges, managerial and administrative arrangements, planning, partnerships, human rights and protection of civilians, uniformed capabilities for peacekeeping operations, among others.

         Senate President Drilon said that the upper chamber will support any initiative by the UN to reassess its protocols on its peace-keeping operations, given that the Philippines has long been consistently involved in the international organization’s human development and peacekeeping programs.    

            “This comprehensive assessment is both relevant and timely given the challenges experienced by Philippine peacekeepers during the conduct of its missions at Golan Heights in Syria in August 2014 when they were forced to defend themselves against Syrian rebels and reposition to avoid further harm,” Legarda said, adding:

            “Being a founding member state of the UN and in keeping with its obligations to the international community, the Philippines has at various times deployed peacekeepers to war-torn areas like Korea, Congo, Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Iraq, Nepal and Sudan. We therefore express our support to the UN’s review of peacekeeping operations and special political missions.”

Legarda Meets With French Envoy for Environment

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda will meet with Mr. Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet, on January 22, 2015 to discuss climate-related issues, including Philippine-French coordination in preparation for the COP 21 or the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France.

“This year’s UN Climate Change Conference in Paris is very crucial as nations are set to adopt a binding and universal climate agreement that will take effect in 2020. As the host country, France should not only be a venue but also a leader in the climate talks,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Environment and Natural Resources, and Climate Change.

“Mr. Hulot’s appointment as Special Envoy of the French President for the Protection of the Planet is an attestation of the French government’s strong commitment towards resilience and sustainable development,” she added.

Mr. Hulot, a French politician and former journalist, was appointed as French President Francois Hollande’s Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet in 2012 as part of France’s efforts to raise awareness about climate change, promote the implementation of climate mitigation policies, and influence action towards protection of the environment.

Legarda noted that President Hollande has been initiating measures towards energy transition and aims to halve French consumption on fossil fuels by the year 2050 as part of France’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We want to strengthen cooperation between the Philippines and France in the area of climate change adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development. We also hope that like France, other nations, especially the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas, would not only agree with climate treaties but also translate commitment into urgent action by cutting down on pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing fossil fuel consumption, promoting the use of renewable energy, and assisting developing nations that are most vulnerable to the effects of environmental degradation and climate change,” Legarda said.


MANILA-Government’s “good handling” of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the country effectively served as a “dry run” for Manila’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit scheduled late this year, Sen. Sonny Angara stressed today as he called on the Aquino government to build on the gains and success of the 5-day papal visit.

“If there’s another good thing which came out of the papal visit aside of course from the spiritual aspect, it was the dress rehearsal which allowed us to assess our logistical preparedness, the state of our infrastructure, the security arrangement for the series of bigger events that we’re hosting this year,” Angara pointed out.

Among these are APEC’s Economic Leaders Meeting in November which will be attended by 21 heads of governments and the number of high-level ministerial meetings preceding it.

About 10,000 delegates are expected to attend the 25th staging of the annual gathering of Pacific Rim leaders.

In addition, the government has declared 2015 as the Visit Philippines Year, with a target to attract nine million visitors from around the globe.

“We will be rolling out the red carpet on all these events and luckily we had the Pope’s visit as a trial run on how good we are as hosts,” Angara said.

“The Pope’s visit yielded many valuable lessons that will serve us well on the months ahead."

He said government should “assess the strengths and weaknesses of its handling of the papal visit so it will know the best practices it should repeat and improve on things where it fared poorly.”

"Among the complex challenges of the Pope’s visit which it passed with flying colors was the security arrangements," Angara exclaimed.

“Its being able to deploy a massive force of 70,000 policemen and soldiers to guard the papal motorcade route and public engagements where an estimated six million people attended was impressive,” the senator said, adding: "That should prepare us when 21 heads of state will be here for the APEC.”  

He said the traffic plan adopted for the Pope’s visit will also come in handy when it is time for the MMDA to devise a plan for the APEC event.

For hosting the APEC meeting, the government will be spending at least P6 billion, P4.6 billion authorized under the “International Commitments Fund” in the 2105 national budget and P1.4 billion in the 2014 supplemental budget passed last December.

The amount does not include funding for key infrastructure projects such as the improvement of Roxas Boulevard, the asphalting of EDSA and the sprucing up of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

DOLE imposes work stoppage at site of construction accident in Guiguinto

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Tuesday a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to two firms in the wake of a wall collapse at their construction site in barangay Ilang-Ilang, Guiguinto, Bulacan which claimed 12 lives.
Responsible companies were Number One Golden Dragon Realty Corporation and Holcim Co Construction Corporation.
“Based on the ocular inspection at the accident site conducted by our team, they found out that it was the right side wall of the on-going warehouse construction that collapsed right above the quarters of the workers. It is approximately 7 meters high and 20 meters wide. It happened during their lunch break,” DOLE Regional Director Ana Dione said.
It took approximately eight hours to retrieve the victims, as the construction firms had no response team to take immediate action during the incident.
“They noted the absence of supervisors such as engineers, safety officers, and the like that is in charge of overseeing the construction as well as representative from the principal at the accident area,” Dione added.
The team likewise observed the incomplete concrete pouring in the foot-tie beam to strengthen the structure; insufficient reinforcement bars and stirrups installed at the column, beam, and wall structure; type of concrete mixture for the columns and beams do not meet as per specification, backfilling was not properly observed and/or conducted to stabilize the movement of the concrete wall structure, and proper evaluation of the soil-bearing capacity was not validated through test.
Moreover, there was no proper engineering and safety supervision to validate and implement the correct engineering standards and work procedures for the nature of work and the volume of rain occurred contributes additional load pressure to the lower portion of the concrete wall structure.
“Both firms shall be held liable for all violations related to the safety and social welfare of the workers and affected civilians resulting to death and injury as amended in the Labor Code of the Philippines and Occupational Safety and Health Standards. We have issued this CDO, which is effective until further notice to both companies because we are serious when it comes to the safety and welfare of our workers. Safety should be practiced at the workplace at all times,” Dione stressed.
“At the time of this painful tragedy, our hearts and thoughts go out to the workers who perished. We will be continuously coordinating with their families and see what kind of interventions we can provide to ease their burden,” Dione added.
In order for the CDO to be lifted, the principal and subcontractor must submit a number of requirements including employer’s accident-illness report, incident report, police report, medical abstract, employment record or contract, corrective work methodology, and proof of salary payment and remittance to Social Security System, Pag-Ibig, and PhilHealth.
Both companies must also attend a conference hearing with DOLE Technical Support and Service Division for Labor Relations and Labor Standards head Ma. Rima Hernandez on January 23 to address the issues and concerns pertaining to the incident. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Security forces, emergency preparedness and response teams begin deployment of personnel and equipment for Clark, Subic APEC meetings

CLARK FREEPORT-Security forces and emergency preparedness and response teams began Tuesday the deployment of personnel and equipment in Clark and Subic in line with the first Senior Officials’ Meeting and Related Meetings (SOM1) of the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit from January 26-February 7.
“We are deploying around 3,000 of our personnel to ensure peace and order inside and within the perimeters of the two Freeports. We shall make our presence felt but not visibly seen by the delegates,” Philippine National Police Deputy Regional Director PSSupt. Melvin Ramon Buenafe said.
PNP Police Regional Office 3 has been conducting since last year relative trainings that would beef up its preparations for SOM1.
This includes Close Protection Orientation, Hostage Negotiation Course, Proper Etiquette and Protocol, Radio Operation and Procedures Course, Pistol Proficiency Training, Civil Disturbance Management Training, and Explosives and Ordnance Refresher Course.
A simulation exercise was held Saturday to test these preparations.
“For our part, we have formed an Emergency Preparedness and Response Task Group which is composed mainly of member-agencies of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and local disaster risk reduction and management offices. Our goal is to guarantee that necessary measures are taken to mobilize equipment, facilities, materials, human and financial resources required to respond to any possible emergency that may happen during SOM1,” Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Josefina Timoteo said.
It is likewise responsible for the development of strategies and contingency or response plans to reduce losses from disasters.
OCD heads the group whose 24/7 Emergency Operations Center is located inside the premises of the 1st Air Division of the Philippine Air Force.
SOM1 begins with a series of more than 30 working group and committee-level meetings covering various topics such as Trade and Investment, Economic and Technical Cooperation, Anti-Corruption, Counter Terrorism, Competition Policy, Ocean and Fisheries, Customs, E-Commerce, Services, Life Sciences, Health, Illegal Logging, and Services.
Following from the outcomes of the APEC Informal Senior Officials’ Meeting held last December 8-9, 2014 in Manila, the various meetings will also discuss how each working group can advance the APEC 2015 priorities and the overall theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”.
The series of working group and committee-level meetings from January 26 to February 5 shall culminate with the Senior Officials’ Meeting on February 6-7 at Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Freeport.
As host, the Philippines will also hold a Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) on Information Technology and Business Process Management (IT-BPM), Creative Industries, and Research and Development Services on February 3.
The PPD on Services is the first in a “Dialogue Series”, which aim to guide the APEC Senior Officials and the APEC Business Advisory Council in promoting trade in services in the Asia-Pacific region. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)


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