World leaders praised the Philippines on how it hosted the ASEAN Summit

admin   •   November 15, 2017   •   26333

MANILA, Philippines — “We also would like to thank the Philippines also for its chairmanship achievements under each of the three ASEAN pillars including the finalization of a framework on a Code of Conduct of parties in the South China Sea,” said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong.

Several significant agreements were also signed in the summit, including the ASEAN declaration on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, which will benefit more than 200,000 Filipinos working in other ASEAN countries.

Also agreed upon was the crafting of the code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea which is expected to assuage the tension in the disputed waters.

In the program, Get It straight with Daniel Razon, PCOO Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan stressed that the country has benefited a lot from the ASEAN Summit.

“ ‘Nakakain ba ang ASEAN?’ Iyan ang tanong sa atin. Hindi nakakain ang ASEAN pero yung produkto ng ASEAN pwedeng makain natin(Can you eat ASEAN? That what they ask us. We cannot eat ASEAN but we can eat the products created by ASEAN),” said Ablan.

“Halimbawa sa larangan ng ekonomiya, pag bumibili tayo ng bagay-bagay sa palengke o sa supermarket, di niyo ba na notice na medyo bumaba na ang presyo ng mga produkto na galing sa ibang ASEAN member states? Malaki ang binaba. Hindi po smuggled yun. Dala po yun ng ASEAN kasi nagkaroon po ng agreement ang sampu, yung free trade natin wala pong papatawan ng tax,” said Ablan.

(Translation: For example, in the field of economics, when you buy goods in the market or supermarket, have you not noticed the decrease in prices of goods that are from ASEAN member states? There is a significant decrease. These are not smuggled goods. It was made possible by the ASEAN through the free trade agreement between the 10 member-states; no taxes will be imposed.)

The cut down on airfare going to and from ASEAN member states is also a result of the summit.

Ablan stressed that, although guaranteed, other benefits from the ASEAN Summit will not be immediately felt.

“Hindi niyo nararamdaman overnight (It will not be realized overnight). It takes time pero (but) the way everything is cheaper now, it is the result of a collaboration such as ASEAN,” said the assistant secretary.

The government spending for the ASEAN Summit has totaled to more than 15 billion pesos.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), however, clarified that the said fund had not been used only for this week’s gathering of leaders but also since the beginning of the country’s preparations wherein several ASEAN meetings had also taken place. — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue

Senate questions contract service hiring of PCOO amid suspicion of hiring ‘trolls’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senators on Thursday (September 16) questioned the contact service hiring of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) amid suspicion of hiring “trolls”.

During the Senate budget hearing of the PCOO, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon demanded records of 1,479 contractual employees of the Palace’s communications group, 375 of which work at PCOO. The senator suspects that the existence of these contractual employees could be “trolls”.

PCOO Undersecretary Kris Ablan confirmed they had hired 375 employees with a “contract of service” status with a budget of P76 million.

Drilon found that “odd” considering that the PCOO has huge vacancies in their plantilla positions. Only 2,107 out of 3,883 plantilla positions have been filled up.

Ito ang mga troll? (Are these the trolls?)” Drilon asked.

Wala pong troll diyan (There are no trolls there),” Ablan responded.

Ablan added that they continue to fill the plantilla positions this year by absorbing contract employees.

“Right now we are reducing the number of contract of service by absorbing many of our contract of service as regular plantilla. But items are still open for filling up,” he said.

Drilon asked for proof that the 1,479 temporary hires are “legitimate and existing” and not “ghost employees”, specifically the 375 employees in the PCOO that were flagged by Commission on Audit (COA). He asked PCOO to submit their records, including their names, addresses and job description. The committee also asked for the employees’ daily time record.

Ablan said they would comply but would have to seek the opinion of their legal office if the addresses can be provided, citing the Data Privacy Act.

In response, Drilon said the information they are requesting are public records.

“Don’t invoke any confidentiality here, because these are public funds and these are subject to audit and if these are subject to audit, these are subject to scrutiny by the branch of the government who is holding the purse,” the senator said.

He also asked the PCOO to submit a draft bill against “troll farms”. Last July, 12 senators filed a resolution aiming to investigate the allegations on using public funds for troll farms. Troll farm is a term used for a group of individuals that spread disinformation online. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)


Warning signals lifted as Tropical Storm Jolina moves towards the West Philippine Sea

Marje Pelayo   •   September 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has lifted all wind signals across the country as Tropical Storm Jolina moves towards the West Philippine Sea.

As of 11:00 a.m. Thursday (September 9), the center of TS Jolina was estimated at 240 km West of Dagupan City, Pangasinan, packed with maximum sustained winds of 85 km/h and gustiness of up to 115 km/h.

It is moving westward at 10 km/h.

PAGASA forecasts that in the next 24 hours, light to moderate with at times heavy rains may be experienced over Palawan, Western Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

Under these conditions, isolated to widely scattered flooding and rain-induced landslides are still possible especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards.

Meanwhile, moderate to strong winds associated with the enhanced southwest monsoon will be experienced over the western section of Luzon.

Based on PAGASA’s forecast track, ‘Jolina’ will move generally west northwestward today over the West Philippine Sea and exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) tonight.

However, the tropical storm is seen to re-intensify and may reach a severe tropical storm category within the day, PAGASA said.

Furthermore, the storm may reach typhoon category tomorrow (September 10).

DND refutes reports on Chinese research vessel near Zambales

Robie de Guzman   •   August 13, 2021


MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Friday refuted earlier reports that a Chinese vessel has been spotted near the disputed Scarborough Shoal (also called Bajo de Masinloc) in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the alleged Chinese research ship did not pass through nor enter the country’s area of responsibility.

“Contrary to some published reports regarding the Chinese Research Vessel Hai Da Hao, the AFP Northern Luzon Command has reported that the said vessel has not been spotted near Bajo de Masinloc as alleged,” he said.

“Based on the verification of the one-year historical track of CRV Hai Da Hao, the vessel did not pass through nor did it enter the area of responsibility of Naval Forces Northern Luzon,” he added.

Lorenzana noted that the said ship is currently monitored at 30 nautical miles south of Huidong Xian, Huizhou Shi in China.

The DND chief issued the statement following claims on social media about the alleged presence of a Chinese research ship near the shoal in Zambales.

The report prompted the department to conduct verification on the matter.

Chinese and other foreign vessels have previously been spotted in contested areas in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippine government has repeatedly filed diplomatic protests on the presence of Chinese ships in Philippine waters.


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