Philippine Flag Days from May 28 to June 12

Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On the Philippine Flag Days from May 28 to June 12
[Released on May 25, 2011]
This is to remind the public that beginning May 28 until June 12, the Philippines will be celebrating its Flag Days. This period commemorates the Battle of Alapan on May 28, 1898 when the national flag was first unfurled in an uprising led by General Emilio Aguinaldo in Imus, Cavite and culminates on June 12 when the Philippine flag was waved in full view of the world following the formal proclamation of independence in Kawit, Cavite.
Flag of the PhilippinesThe elements of our flag date to the revolutionary era but its present format was codified in 1936 under the Philippine Commonwealth Government.
Citizens are encouraged to reverently and proudly display our national colors in their residences, places of work, institutions of learning, public buildings and plazas, as well as embassies and consulates overseas.
The time has come to finally, fully reclaim our national pride. May our flag be a symbol that unites us as a people moving toward progress. It is time we recognize this, and build a nation that every Filipino deserves.

Nueva Vizcaya is country’s next ‘salad bowl’

A May 25, 2011 press release by the Department of Agriculture
Some 107 kilometers southwest of Baguio City and 250 kilometers north of Manila, Dupax del Sur, an upland town in Nueva Vizcaya, is emerging as the country’s next “salad bowl.”
Five of its 19 barangays, collectively known as KinGBiKS, grow semi-temperate vegetables that can compete well in quality and price with those from Benguet and in the Cordilleras. KinGBiKS is an acronym of five barangays, namely: Kinabuan, Ganao, Biruk, Kimbutan, and Sanguit.
Most farm-families in KinGBiKS migrated from Benguet and are used to planting semi-temperate crops like lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, sweet peas, chayote, cucumber, tomatoes, and bell pepper. They also grow other crops like squash, ginger, corn, and adlai.
Majority of the KinGBiKS rural folk belong to the Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes. They migrated to Nueva Vizcaya when the San Roque Dam was constructed during the late 1990s.
Now, with constant support from the Aquino Government through the Department of Agriculture (DA), the five barangays of KinGBiKS have the major elements to make their dream a reality.
To date, the DA has extended a total of P13 million in operating capital, trading post, irrigation, tramline, and other equipment.
Currently, some 1, 500 hectares in the five barangays have been devoted to semi-temperate crops, but the area could be further expanded to about 15, 000 hectares, said KinGBiKS chairman Marcelo Baysa.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala turned over close to P7 million worth of assistance and interventions to the KinGBiKS Farmers Marketing Cooperative. The cooperative is composed of about 200 farmers with Marcelo Baysa as chairman.
Though organized in the year 2000, it was only during September 2010 (through the efforts of Secretary Alcala) that the group’s potential as a major source of “salad” vegetables was recognized.
Part of the P7M assistance was P3.5-million operating fund from the DA’s Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), P3.2 million for irrigation facilities and a tramline, P50, 000 worth communication facilities, and a pair of carabaos to help in land preparation.
The amount is the “second wave” extended by the DA. In September 2010, when Alcala first visited Nueva Vizcaya, he committed P6M, broken down as: P3.5-M operating capital from ACPC, P1.2 million for a packinghouse and trading post with multi-purpose drying pavement, P1 million for plastic crates and weighing scales.
The DA also provided assistance to KinGBiKS cooperative in the form of marketing and financial management training, a vegetable techno-demo project, and “lakbay-aral” to learn the operations at Sentrong Pamilihang ng Produktong Agrikultural sa Quezon, La Trinidad trading post in Benguet, and the Nueva Vizcaya Agricultural Trading Center.
Kinabuan Barangay chairman Teodoro Bumacas, who led the organization of KinGBiKS in 2000, said Dupax del Sur produces about 30 percent of total vegetable production in Nueva Vizcaya. The rest comes from Dupax del Norte and Kasibu towns.
Nueva Vizcaya is Cagayan Valley’s vegetable capital. In particular, Dupax del Sur is the main vegetable producer. The town has 19 barangays, spanning 38, 000 hectares, of which about 10, 000 hectares are planted to various crops. Of the total area, about 1, 500 hectares are planted to upland vegetables.
Bumacas said in previous years Dupax del Sur farmers were confronted with problems that resulted to low production and quality of vegetables like lack of technical assistance, absence of financial support, and poor farm-to-market roads. Most farmers were at the mercy of usurers and traders, hence they were forced to sell their products at very low prices, just enough to recover their production cost.
“All our produce will be delivered to the traders, who dictated the buying price, which was far below the prevailing market price. We can’t do anything, but accept the 70-30% financer-farmer sharing scheme,” he lamented.
Fed up with the injustice, the farmers organized themselves into an association, one each from the five barangays. Thus, KinGBiKS was formed. The cooperative’s plight was brought to the fore during a town hall meeting in September 2010 in Bayombong, where Secretary Alcala was speaker at a provincial farmers’ forum.
As an initial support, Alcala instructed concerned DA units, like the Agribusiness Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS), Agri-Pinoy Trading Center Project Management Office, and DA Regional Field Office 2, to assist KinGBiKS.
Bumacas said at first they did not expect Alcala to make good on his promise.
Now, the rest is history, and they have a challenge to surmount; to be the country’s second major “salad bowl.”

Malacanang calls public not to buy black corals

Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On the illicit trade of black coral
[Released on May 26, 2011]
“When bad news is good news”
black coral and red coralWe need greater scrutiny of the trade in black corals so that Philippine authorities can work with their counterparts in other places, as it is in all our interest to stamp out this destructive trade.
As in other environmental protection efforts, where biodiversity is under threat, an essential element in the effort is to educate the public to do its part not to make plunder pay off for poachers.
This requires, among others, the buying public to boycott those who sell jewelry made from black coral. We call on consumers the world over to make a similar commitment to saving the biodiversity of our seas, by refusing to buy black coral items.
There are instances, for example, where black coral from the Philippines is exported to other countries to be passed off as sourced in those countries. For this reason we ask the cooperation of Filipinos abroad to look into black coral sold in other countries that may include smuggled Philippine black coral.
We must bear in mind that even as our authorities such as the Bureaus of Customs, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and departments like the DENR work to interdict the poachers and their contraband, establishing protected areas and making them successful is, ultimately, what will stem the tide of environmental destruction.
For every major success story like the protection of Tubbataha Reef and the cooperation between foreign governments and the Philippines, national and local authorities, and government and NGOs it represents, there remain the threats represented by poachers: as proven by the confiscation of poached goods.
News such as the report of the confiscation of illegally harvested black coral from the Sulu Sea today and yesterday helps the authorities identify areas in which to intensify our patrols. It also alerts NGOs committed to saving the environment, and individuals such as divers who have a vested interest in protecting our marine biodiversity, to step up their advocacies to help our common cause: making a difference in safeguarding our coral reefs. In this manner, success stories will turn into environmental victories.
We call on LGUs to refer to, and implement, the guidebook on Coral Reef Protection issued by the DENR last year. Our local governments can learn from the best practices of their fellow LGUs.
For example the partnership between the UP Marine Science Institute and the municipality of Bolinao, Pangasinan where training workshops and coral transplantation have been undertaken in the coastal barangays of Lucero, Balingasay, Binabalian and Victory, to name a few. In Occidental Mindoro, the municipalities of Looc and Lubang last year passed ordinances establishing marine management areas around the Lubang islands in the Verde Island Passage; and the Kilusan Sagip Kalikasan in Palawan and its efforts against cyanide fishers.

President Aquino Statement upon departure to Thailand

Benigno S. Aquino III
Pangulo ng Pilipinas
Bago tumulak patungong Kaharian ng Thailand
[Inihayag sa Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 noong ika-26 ng Mayo 2011]
Ngayong umaga, lilipad po tayo patungong Thailand bilang pagtanggap sa imbitasyon ni Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Bahagi po ito ng agenda ng ating administrasyon na patatagin ang ating bilateral relations sa Thailand, at sa pagpapalakas ng ating pagkakaisa sa rehiyon ng ASEAN.
Taong 1949 pa nang pinagtibay ang ating bilateral relations sa Thailand. Lumipas man ang mahigit anim na dekada, nananatiling matatag ang atin pong ugnayan. Bilang mga kasapi ng ASEAN, mahalaga ang maayos na samahan ng Pilipinas at Thailand para maisakatuparan ang ating mga adhikaing pangkaunlaran.
Makikipagpulong po ako kay Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva upang talakayin ang mga paraan para mas mapalakas pa ang ugnayan natin sa Thailand sa iba’t ibang larangan, lalo pa’t nahaharap tayo sa pandaigdigang hamong politikal, pang-ekonomiko at pangkapaligiran.
Sa pagiging magkasangga ng Thailand at ng Pilipinas, maraming benepisyo at makabuluhang serbisyo ang mapapasakamay ng ating bansa. Mag-aambag ito sa pagsigla ng ating ekonomiya, at sa pag-angat ng kabuhayan ng ating mga mamamayan lalo na sa pagkakaroon ng maunlad na kalakalan at pamumuhunan sa pagitan ng ating mga bansa. Noong 2010 nga po, ang Thailand ang ating 9th largest trading partner. Sa pagbisita natin sa kanila, layunin nating lalo pa itong paunlarin.
Bibigyang-diin natin sa kanila na puspusan ang pagsusulong ng ating administrasyon sa Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. Sa ganitong paraan, nagtitiwala kaming maeengganyo ang mga negosyante sa Thailand na maglagak ng kanilang mga negosyo sa atin pong bansa. Katumbas ng kanilang mga negosyo ang paglikha ng trabaho para sa mga Pilipino; at karagdagang pondo ng gobyerno para sa makabuluhang mga serbisyo.
Pag-uusapan din dito ang pagtutulungan natin sa pagsugpo, lalo na po, sa drug trafficking, at makisulong sa mga larangang pang-akademiko at agrikultural. Tatalakayin din natin ang pagpapabuti sa ating kahandaan tuwing may mga sakuna, lalo pa’t madalas na daanan ang ating mga bansa ng mga natural na kalamidad.
Bukod pa dito, ang mga pagsisikap natin upang patibayin ang interaksyon natin sa Thailand ang patuloy na magsusulong ng kultural na pagkakaunawaan sa pagitan ng ating mga bansa.
Sa pagbisita ko pong ito, makikipagkita din ako sa ating mga kababayan upang personal na kamustahin ang kanilang kalagayan. Nais din natin silang taos-pusong pasalamatan sa pagsusumikap nila, hindi lamang para pagandahin ang buhay ng kanilang pamilya, kundi pati na rin ang ating pambansang ekonomiya. Ipapaabot din natin sa bansang Thailand ang ating pasasalamat sa pagbibigay ng oportunidad sa ating mga kababayan na makapaghanapbuhay.
Tiwala po akong sa ating mabuting hangarin, kaakibat ang inyong mga panalangin, magiging tagumpay po ang biyaheng ito. Hindi pa man po ako nakakaalis, nasasabik na po akong umuwi dala-dala ang mga good news na makakalap natin sa ating pagbisita sa Thailand. Sa ating pagbabayanihan, sa loob at labas pa ng ating bayan, dire-diretso na po tayo sa tiyak na kagasanahan at pag-asenso.
Bago po ako magpaalam, inaasahan ko pong lahat ng nangako sa akin na handang-handa na tayo sa parating na bagyo—tatlong araw na raw pong handa—ay talagang matutupad po’t hindi po ako magugulat habang nasa Thailand. At pag ako po ay nagulat, magugulat rin po kayo pagbalik ko.
Magandang umaga po. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

Filipina died in Joplin Tornado, DFA provides assistance

A May 26, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs
The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that it is in contact with the family of a Filipina who perished in a tornado that struck Joplin town in Missouri on May 22.
Grace Aquino perished when the wall of the Harmony Heights Baptist Church collapsed on her when the tornado struck, according to her daughter Divine.
“The Consulate has conveyed its message of sympathy to Ms. Aquino’s husband Rizaldy, and assured them of our assistance,” Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim said.
He also said that they are in contact with the Filipino community leaders in Missouri, who informed them that that entry to Joplin is restricted to emergency responders who are still conducting search and rescue operation in the area.
“The Consulate will send a team to Joplin as soon as the weather conditions settle down in the region and it is safe for travel.  Tornados continue to strike in Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Illinois is under a severe thunderstorm warning,” Consul General Herrera-Lim explained.
“Nevertheless, we are in contact with Filipino community in the St. Charles and St. Louis, Missouri area and receives updates from the community, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the American Red Cross,” he added.
There are about 10,396 Filipinos in the Missouri, most of them in St. Louis, St. Charles, Fort Leonard Wood, and Blue Springs.
In the meantime, Filipinos who have relatives in Missouri may contact the Missouri SEMA at telephone number (573) 526-9100 and fax number (573) 634-7966, the Office of the Missouri Governor at telephone number (573) 751-3222 or the American Red Cross at telephone number (1-800) 733-2767 or at its website at

Malacanang Statement on 2011 Global Peace Index (GPI)

Statement of Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda:
On the fifth edition of the Institute for Economics and Peace’s
Global Peace Index (GPI)
[Released on May 26, 2011]
The cause of peace, as the President pointed out in his first State of the Nation Address, is a fundamental requirement of development and prosperity. Back in July 2010, the President had told the nation, “It is difficult to begin discussions in earnest if the smell of gunpowder still hangs in the air. I call on everyone concerned not to waste a good opportunity to rally behind our common aspiration for peace … Our foundation for growth is peace.”
There is no clearer demonstration of the consequences and impact of violence than the fifth edition of the Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index (GPI) released yesterday, which categorized the Philippines as among the nations “in conflict” and “grappling with fetters to social and economic development of its citizens.”
Among 153 countries surveyed, the Philippines was No. 136, or among the bottom 20 “least at peace,” leaving the Philippines’ tally unchanged from their previous edition. GPI, “with most measures of safety and security in society registering high scores to reflect a tense security situation in several parts of the archipelago” pointed to tensions in Mindanao, particularly Basilan and Jolo, where several separatist movements remain active, citing the series of bombings and shootings in Mindanao in April 2010 that killed 14 people during the closing months of the Arroyo administration.
We have continued to work on two fronts to ensure that the country and our people can move forward with peace and order providing the means to empower our people to pursue productive activities.
Whether in terms of peace talks with the MNLF or the MILF, or the NDF, our peace panels, in cooperation with national authorities and our friends in the global community of nations, are engaged in talks characterized by honesty, dedication, and open-mindedness. Talks with the NDF, stalled for almost seven years, have resumed. Talks with the MILF and MNLF are progressing.
We will remain steadfast on the path to peace. This administration views hostilities as an unacceptable condition; we will continue to be dissatisfied so long as we cannot achieve an honorable, just, and lasting peace for our people.
We are moving forward, knowing so much is at stake, and so much to be gained as we resolve these generations-old conflicts.

DOE Warns on fake Pantawid Pasada Coupons

A May 26, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Energy
The Public Transport Assistance Program (PTAP), otherwise known as the Pantawid Pasada Program, given to PUJ operators and tricycle drivers is now on its third week.  While the cards for the PUJ operators are being distributed by the Department of Energy (DOE), the implementing agency for tricycle drivers and operators is the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).  The latter has, since then, implemented the same program for tricycles since last week.
The DOE clarifies that it has not issued any coupons for tricycle drivers and/or operators and that such coupons will not be honored.  The agency reminds all concerned individuals/parties to report any and all unscrupulous activities to the number/s below.
For more information on the Pantawid Pasada Program for jeepneys, please call: (02) 984-6381, or text the following: Globe: 0917 556-0759; 0917 480-3488, Smart: 0947392-5378, and Sun: 0932 778-6494.  For information on Pantawid Pasada Program for tricycles, please contact DILG’s Hotlines: Financial Concerns, Tel. No. 927-4035; Telefax No. 929-9491, and for Administrative Concerns at 925-0347 and 925-0377; Fax Nos. 925-0361, 925-0377, and 928-9181.

Courtesy Call of James Hogan, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways (Video)

Etihad Airways Airbus A330-200 (A6-EYB) landin...Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer James Hogan called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to discuss expansion and improvement of tourism in the Philippines. President Aquino expressed gratitude to Etihad officials for their efforts to boost infra-tourism in the country, while Hogan said, he is satisfied with the good performance of one thousand Filipinos working in their company, which is the National Airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).