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19IB's retiring soldier recognized, urges colleagues to be good public servants

87IB hands over a Philippine hawk eagle to DENR

Roxas: P1.79 billion ready for Yolanda rehab

President Aquino urged to heed UN climate report

8ID celebrates Philippine Army Day

Catbalogan celebrates International Women’s Day

LBP farming program seen to fully benefit former rebels in Leyte

People Surge: President Aquino must go if he cannot help Yolanda survivors

“Dinky Soliman rides on UN aid to cover up government's criminal negligence” – People Surge

12,000-strong storm survivors march for justice, rights versus Aquino’s criminal neglect



7 billion people have a Red Cross or Red Crescent story

May 8, 2014

GENEVA – Everyday most of the seven billion people in the world are touched by the Red Cross and Red Crescent without even realizing it. Almost everyone – or someone they know – has donated blood or received a first aid tip or been visited by a volunteer, perhaps not knowing it was their local Red Cross or Red Crescent in action. Annually, May 8 is World Red Cross Red Crescent Day. Today we celebrate the power of community and people helping people, both in the spotlight during crises and behind-the-scenes in day-to-day life.

More than 17 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and 80 million members interact with friends, families and neighbours the world-over. Their service has a positive impact on the lives of every member of their community. They serve in places like hospitals, schools, community centres and gatherings, sometimes directly in peoples’ homes – all the while providing life-changing and at times life-saving services.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – comprised of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and 189 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies – celebrates more than 150 years of humanitarian action worldwide. Across the globe, the Red Cross and Red Crescent helps support people every day of every year – in community programmes, responding to crises and inspiring hope.

“People instinctively want to contribute and give. This has been part of human nature throughout history,” said Bekele Geleta, Secretary General, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “There is a humanitarian in each of us, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent creates a space where people mobilize together to amplify the impact of their good work.”

"The size, outreach and grassroots work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteer network across the world are simply unique," said Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross. "Wherever I go, people have stories to share with me about people they know in our Movement."

Almost everyone has a Red Cross or Red Crescent story. On World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, we invite everyone to share their story with family and friends and at





Chiz slams gov’t agencies for slow response to post-Yolanda rehabilitation efforts

By Office of Senator Chiz Escudero
May 7, 2014

PASAY CITY – Senator Chiz Escudero expressed frustration over the failure of some government agencies to act swiftly to reconstruct areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda despite the approval of a multi-billion post-disaster funding months ago to rehabilitate communities leveled by the monster calamity.

In today’s hearing of the joint congressional oversight committees on public expenditures, Escudero noted the lack of sense urgency among executive agencies tasked to put together a massive rehabilitation program for provinces devastated by Yolanda as well as other disasters.

“I share the frustration of the President. From what I have heard from today’s hearing, these agencies do not share President Aquino’s sense of urgency, the Congress’ sense of urgency,” Escudero lamented. “We have fast-tracked the appropriation of funds for reconstruction and rehabilitation specifically to immediately address the needs of the affected families and communities and yet up until this minute the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) cannot even come up with the post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA).”

Escudero, who co-chairs the oversight committee, said the PDNA is necessary in order to come up with a consolidated rehabilitation plan, but the NDRMMC admitted it is still in the process of collecting assessments.

“This is very sad. Six months after Yolanda, more than a year after the previous disasters we don’t even know what exactly the affected communities need? It is not about what we can give or what we will to give. This lackadaisical attitude is prolonging the anguish of victims. It is bordering on criminal already,” he said.

Escudero said agencies who act with unreasonable protracted effort will be called to task and will be exacted compliance to speed up the rehabilitation efforts through the power of the oversight committees.

According to Escudero, only about 10 percent of the total 2014 post-disaster budget has been utilized since it was approved last December.

“Congress has appropriated a total amount of P40 billion for 2014 and only P3 billion has been spent as of date. It’s already been four months after the budget has taken effect and yet the blue print for rehabilitation is still blue or even blank. We are now entering a new cycle of rainy season, and plans and projects will be again halted by the bad weather. How slow can our agencies get?” he pointed out.

The executive agencies invited to the oversight hearing were the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR).





New Greenpeace report says coal to stifle Philippine economic growth

Aquino government urged to drop plans for coal energy expansion

May 7, 2014

MAKATI CITY, Philippines – A new Greenpeace report outlined how the Philippines stands to lose billions in economic revenue and incur even more unforeseen human and environmental costs if the Aquino government continues to promote dirty coal energy even in this age of accelerated climate change.

Greenpeace’s True Cost of Coal Volume 1 is an overview of how coal has forever disadvantaged the Philippines in terms of environmental and health impacts, damages to agriculture and marine life and more. The report also exposed how government officials and key players in the Energy sector continue to mislead the public claiming how coal investments will propel the nation to a more energy secure future, when in fact worldwide, coal is destroying lands and livelihood and endangering people’s health and well-being in the name of development.

“Our leaders have always envisioned a green and prosperous Philippines and yet, by promoting dirty coal projects, they are burning our chances of a more sustainable economic development. What’s more, they are asking Filipinos to pay dearly for a future marked by more deadly and extreme weather events aggravated by the burning of fossil fuels like coal,” said Reuben Andrew Muni, Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines. “This report should make President Aquino and his energy officials to re-think about approving more coal-fired plants, aside from the 45 plants currently in the pipeline.”

Coal is a highly polluting energy source and emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil and natural gas. From mine to sky, from extraction to combustion, coal pollutes every step of the way. The huge environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for developing countries. More importantly, coal promoters continually overlook the increasingly urgent need to curtail fossil fuels use due to climate change.

The first of three parts, True Cost of Coal Volume 1 focused on the external costs of coal energy production in the Philippines – from mining to importation. Research has shown that coal is not as cheap as its promoters have claimed it to be.

A typical new 600-MW coal plant has price tag of roughly USD 2 billion. Furthermore, the Philippines is hostage to international fossil fuel markets for the cost of fuel which can be up to 70% of the total generation cost passed on to the consumers by the government and the power utilities sector.

Another point to consider is the fact that more than 34% of the Philippine’s power generation comes from imported coal from Indonesia. This demand for coal locks the country into a problematic paradigm, where it relies on a resource (coal) that it cannot produce domestically and must therefore import.

“By constantly spending money to acquire foreign coal, the Philippines is unnecessarily squandering its foreign currency, sending it abroad, which negatively affects its balance of trade, as well as its energy independence, said Amalie Obusan, Regional Climate and Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Compare this with Renewable Energy which is clean and naturally abundant in the Philippines. While the price of coal rises, the price of wind and sun doesn’t change, it is always free.”

According to the Department of Energy, geothermal energy alone has already had a massive impact on foreign exchange over time, through displacement of imported fuels. The Philippines has in fact saved about USD 7,074,870,000 billion since 1997.

The Greenpeace report also gave key insights on how coal powered plants operating in the country have endangered coal-affected communities and the natural environment [3]. Laws and other policy instruments that were blatantly disregarded both by coal companies and the government were also made known in the report.

Greenpeace laments the Aquino government’s clear bias for coal and its mere token of support for RE. While there is a slow push for the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, the DOE is swift to defend and promote coal as the primary source of electricity in the country.

“Coal is not cheap and the human and environmental costs of dirty energy are just too high to ignore. We cannot allow the status quo to continue,” added Muni. “The goal of inclusive economic growth need not be in sharp contradiction with the goal of environmental protection and conservation. Clean and renewable energy is possible. We must use it to our advantage and end the age of coal.”





Philippines to target mainstream Americans in tourism drive

By OVP Media
May 6, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippines should take advantage of the goodwill generated by the recent visit to Manila of President Barack Obama as well as the recent upgrade in the safety rating of the aviation sector to convince more Americans to visit the country.

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay issued the statement after the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. said it drew more than 6,000 visitors after it opened its doors to the public on Saturday as part of the annual Passport DC Around the World Embassy Tour.

Judging by what Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. described as the overwhelming number of visitors who came to experience Filipino culture, the Vice President said the Department of Tourism should take advantage of this interest among mainstream Americans to get more of them to visit the Philippines.

The Vice President noted that while Americans are on top of the list of foreign visitors, with a total of 642,626 arriving from the US last year, these are mostly balikbayans spending their holidays in the Philippines.

“The men and women of our Embassy in Washington, D.C. did a very commendable job in letting hundreds of Americans know why we say it’s more fun in the Philippines,” the Vice President said. “We need to do more of this, we need to be more creative in attracting more foreign tourists to visit the Philippines.”

He noted that the Embassy, which was participating in the event for the first time, was expecting only 3,000 visitors but as it turned out a record 6,105 people, mostly Americans and other nationalities, came to see the dance, classical music and martial arts performances and also have a taste of Filipino cuisine such as lechon, pancit and lumpia.

“This and the tremendous goodwill generated by the recent visit of President Obama as well as the granting of Category 1 status offer opportunities for exponential growth for Philippine tourism,” Vice President Binay said.

“These opportunities must be matched by an intensive airport rehabilitation and modernization program as well as the expansion of existing flight routes of Philippine carriers and the opening of new routes to non-traditional destinations,” he said.

With the recent safety upgrade by the Federal Aviation Administration, Philippine Airlines is expected to open new routes to New York and Chicago while Cebu Pacific is reportedly considering flying to Hawaii and the West Coast.

The Vice President said he hopes the Department of Tourism could provide additional support to the Embassy for next year’s Around the World Embassy Tour organized every year by the District of Columbia Cultural Tourism Office.

The Vice President, at the same time, thanked the US-Philippines Society for its efforts in raising the profile of the Philippines in the US through, among others, cultural initiatives such as the performances in New York and Washington, D.C. of the Bayanihan Dance Company and the Madrigal Singers.

He also thanked the US-Philippines Society for organizing the After the Storm Concert benefit concert for victims of Typhoon Yolanda at the Kennedy Center on 15 June. Among those expected to take part in the concert are Broadway artist Lea Salonga, singer and actor Lou Diamond Phillips.





Six months after Typhoon Haiyan, major long-term recovery needs remain

May 5, 2014

MANILA – Six months after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the Visayas region of the Philippines, millions remain in a precarious situation. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, one of the few organisations to deliver humanitarian assistance across all affected islands, has now launched an ambitious plan geared towards supporting the long-term recovery of survivors.

16 million people were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with thousands losing family members, homes and incomes. While the greatest intensity of need is in the Eastern Visayas, people in other more remote areas also need help. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement recovery plan pledges to help 775,000 of the most vulnerable people to recover and improve their resilience to future disasters.

“Affected communities have shown remarkable strength and many are on the road to recovery. However, high levels of pre-existing poverty are holding people back and in some areas basic services have not been re-established”, says Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. “Our recovery work will focus on restoring shelter, livelihoods and access to health care, to help affected communities overcome the hardships of the past six months and become self-reliant again.”

Since the disaster struck, the Philippine Red Cross, together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and over 50 national societies from around the world have between them distributed emergency relief, including food, shelter items and cash, to more than 1 million people. Thousands more received medical attention from Red Cross emergency facilities.

“We are very proud of the solidarity and good cooperation the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has demonstrated, mobilising quickly and effectively to respond after Haiyan”, says Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of Philippine Red Cross, adding “Our most unique asset is our volunteer base. Over 8,000 Red Cross volunteers have been at the forefront of the emergency response, alongside the hundreds of international and national staff deployed to the affected area.”

The recovery plan, amounting to 320 million Swiss Francs will run over the next three years. As well as helping survivors to rebuild their lives, it will enhance the Philippine Red Cross’ capacity to respond to future disasters through targeted skills training for volunteers and strengthening expertise in disaster management and disaster risk reduction.

Meanwhile, work to rebuild damaged health care facilities and water networks in affected areas is well under way, as are livelihood support programs delivering cash grants, training and asset replacement.

In the aftermath of the disaster, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement distributed cash grants to 75,000 households and met 25% of the emergency shelter needs of survivors, providing tents, tarpaulins and other materials to almost 140,000 households. Support has already begun to roll out to help families build more durable homes, together with projects involving the construction of shelters.

Typhoon Haiyan Emergency appeals launched by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have collectively raised 315 million Swiss Francs (USD 357 million) so far.






Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay and US Sen. Ben Cardin meeting
CAPITOL HILL MEETING. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos and Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay discuss bilateral issues with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Chair of the Sub-Committee on East Asia and Pacific Affairs of the United States Senate, during a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda)

US congressional leaders assure VP Binay of their support for Haiyan rehabilitation, enhanced defense cooperation

By OVP Media
May 4, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippines can count on the continued support of leaders of the United States Congress not only in Manila's efforts to rehabilitate areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda but also to further strengthen the alliance between the two countries.

The assurance was given to Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during his meetings with US congressional leaders at Capitol Hill on Thursday, the Philippine Embassy said in a statement released today.

"I am very glad to receive the assurances of US congressional leaders of their support for the Philippines and the enduring friendship between our countries and the Filipino and American peoples," said the Vice President, who is in Washington to keynote the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The Embassy said the Vice President, accompanied by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., held separate meetings with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs; California Rep. Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

In their meetings, Vice President Binay reiterated the Philippine Government's appreciation for the immediate and comprehensive assistance extended by the US Government to the typhoon affected communities in Central Visayas.

The Vice President said the US legislators expressed hope for the immediate recovery of the people in the affected areas and assured him that the Philippine Government could count on their support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.

The Vice President said the US congressional leaders also assured him of their support for closer defense cooperation between the two countries and building capabilities to respond to catastrophes and natural disasters. They also pointed to the importance of the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

"Vice President Binay's congressional meetings showed that the bipartisan support of the US for the Philippines and the Philippines-United States alliance is rooted in the US Congress which represents the American people," Ambassador Cuisia stated.

The Vice President was accompanied in the meetings by Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos; Makati Major Jejomar Erwin S. Binay; Mr. Edgardo Lacson, Consultant on Trade and Finance; Atty. Martin C. Subido, Legal Counsel; and Minister for Legislative Affairs and Consul General Ariel R. Penaranda.





EDCA to deter aggression, boost disaster response capabilities, help GPH attain inclusive growth

By OVP Media
May 2, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said today the new defense cooperation agreement the Philippines entered into with the United States will not only deter aggressors and provide a quick response mechanism to disasters but will also help the Government achieve its goal of improving the lives of the Filipino people.

Speaking before the Banyan Tree Leadership Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) here, the Vice President said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) that was signed in Manila on Monday is an important pillar of the country’s regional security policy as well as an effective response mechanism to humanitarian and natural disasters.

“A stronger American military presence in the Philippines and greater interoperability between our respective armed forces dramatically increases our individual and collective defense capabilities, providing a dramatic deterrent against external aggression,” the Vice President told his audience that included diplomats, business leaders and members of the Filipino-American Community.

“Through the EDCA, we have effectively upgraded our own security platform, without shifting a significant portion of our limited resources to support an arms race and procure weapons systems that exceed our normal defense requirements,” he said.

“It will soothe and calm the investment climate in the Philippines. It enables us to focus better on developing a solid economic base to combat poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and disease.”

Vice President Binay also pointed out that EDCA does not signal a shift in the Manila’s core strategy for regional security. “We have always believed and will continue to hold ourselves to the principle that the future of mankind lies not in conflict nor war, but in dialogue, cooperation, development and peace,” he said.

The Vice President said the Philippines will continue to pursue a peaceful solution to the disputes in the South China Sea by opting for arbitration as provided for in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and supporting efforts towards the conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China.

“Let me stress, nonetheless, that our support for EDCA does not reflect a freezing of ties with China. Nor do we view the disputes in the South China Sea as the totality of our bilateral relations with China,” he said, citing the increase in trade with Beijing that made it the country’s largest trading partner as well as the historic and people-to-people ties.

“In the end, trade, as well as the deep filial ties that bind our peoples will prevail over the issues of territory and boundaries that are currently threatening our relationship,” the Vice President said.

In his speech, Vice President Binay also said the Philippines must further liberalize its economy to improve the country’s competitiveness and allow it to attract local and foreign investments in manufacturing and other sectors.

“We must harmonize local and national laws to ensure investors of orderly business operations,” he said. “We must cure the policy and infrastructure misalignments that emerge as we cascade our gains to the grassroots.”

He said a true open skies policy with an aggressive airport development program must be undertaken alongside reforms in the electric power industry as well as the modernization of the agriculture sector.

“And we must keep our promise to maintain a clean and transparent government with a stable policy regime into 2016 and beyond,” he told his audience.






Mar Roxas meets Alfred Romualdez
DILG Secretary Mar Roxas greets Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez after the check turnover held at Tiera de Milagrosa, Palo, Leyte on April 10, 2014. Tacloban City received P230 M for repair of key LGU buildings under the government’s Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).

Barangays to receive aid for damaged public buildings - DILG

April 30, 2014

TACLOBAN CITY – Following the release of national government assistance recently to provinces, cities and municipalities hit hard by Super typhoon Yolanda, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is now turning its attention to helping barangays regain their ability to deliver basic services.

DILG-8 Regional Director Pedro A. Noval Jr. said that as announced by DILG Secretary Mar Roxas during the turnover of checks to local government units (LGUs) last April 10 and 11, barangays will also receive assistance for the repair of damaged barangay halls, day care centers, and civic centers (e.g. gymnasium, auditorium).

Dir. Noval called on city and municipal mayors to help their barangays to prepare and submit the supporting documents to the DILG Regional Office in Tacloban City by May 7 so that they can benefit from the national government aid under the Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY).

Aid for provincial, city and municipal governments

He also disclosed that of the 61 affected local government units in Eastern Visayas, only the municipality of Albuera, Leyte has yet to claim its check for P7.75M, due to the reported failure of its Sangguniang Bayan to issue a resolution authorizing its Mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DILG.

The amount released by DILG directly to the affected municipalities, cities and provinces in Eastern Visayas this April totaled more than 900 million pesos.

The first batch of checks were personally handed over by Secretary Mar Roxas to the provincial government of Leyte, the cities of Tacloban, Ormoc and Baybay, and 35 towns affected in Leyte. Other badly hit LGUs in Eastern Visayas received the RAY funds through Dir. Noval who was instructed by Sec. Roxas to distribute the checks so that LGUs could already start their much-needed projects.

The mayors or local treasurers of six municipalities and the provincial government in Biliran, and of two towns in Samar claimed their checks at the DILG Regional Office on April 24. The next day, Dir. Noval visited two (2) more towns in Samar and 11 towns in Eastern Samar to hand over the checks to their municipal mayors.

Pictorials, notarization needed

Barangays, to be able to avail of national government aid for repair, should submit to DILG-8 Regional Office, pictorials (taken from all angles) of the affected buildings and programs of work prepared by the City/Municipal Engineer and approved by the Punong Barangay. These shall likewise be validated by the C/MPDC and attested by the City/Municipal Mayor and the Municipal DILG officer. All documents submitted must be subscribed and sworn to by a notary public.

According to Dir. Noval, this will help DILG hasten project evaluation and fund release since the agency cannot feasibly do onsite validation of each damaged building in the estimated 2,000 barangays affected by Yolanda in the region since it only has three (3) engineers at its regional office and a few at the field.

Call for accountability and transparency

Dir. Noval echoed Sec. Roxas’ plea for LGUs to be prudent in the use of the money, and as much as possible, tap local labor and materials to help stir up its economy. DILG is asking non-government organizations (NGOs), media and the public to help the agency monitor LGU spending of RAY funds. The department expects all repair and rehabilitation projects by LGUs to be completed by the end of the year.

Of the P1.79 Billion (P1,791,400,000) allocated for rehabilitation of LGU buildings under RAY, Tacloban City received the biggest chunk at P230,687,979.22 for the repair of the city hall, public market, and civic center. For the provinces, Leyte LGUs received the biggest funding with allocation amounting to P801,804,911.17, or about 45 percent of the total rehabilitation fund. Allocation for other provinces in Region 8 include P19,917,634.41 for Biliran; P100,219,564.57 for Eastern Samar; and P16,528,192.25 for Samar.



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