25 NOVEMBER 2014.

bulet-arow.gif (856 bytes) Palace expects Congress to approve the P2.6-trillion 2015 National Budget soon
bulet-arow.gif (856 bytes) President Aquino to meet with coconut farmers regarding coco levy fund
bulet-arow.gif (856 bytes) Palace: Government measures are in place to protect poorest of the poor
bulet-arow.gif (856 bytes) Palace welcomes poll results indicating rise in optimism among Filipinos

Palace expects Congress to approve the P2.6-trillion 2015 National Budget soon
 
Given the commitment of the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Malacañang is “reasonably assured” that the 2015 National Budget would be passed on time and would be ready for the President's signature next month, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

“Based on our experience in the previous years and given the commitment of the leaders of both Houses, we are reasonably assured that the plenary deliberations will be concluded, so that both Houses are able to come up with their own versions that will later on be reconciled by a bicameral conference committee,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing at the Palace.

The proposed General Appropriations Act will then be ratified by both Houses, and submitted for the President’s signature in December, Secretary Coloma told reporters when asked if he foresees any delay in the passing of the budget.

Legislators have voiced some reservations on the 2015 National Budget. Senator Miriam Santiago has questioned the legality of the budget, specifically the definition of savings, as well as the existence of the pork barrel.

In reaction, Coloma said the Executive branch recognizes the mandate of lawmakers to scrutinize the proposed budget.

"Umaasa kami na mareresolba ang lahat ng mga usapin at mapagpapasyahan ang panukalang budget, upang ito ay malagdaan ng Pangulo sa susunod na buwan at maging epektibo sa unang araw ng Enero 2015, katulad ng napapanahong pag-apruba at pagpapatupad ng lahat ng budget sa mga nakaraang taon ng panunungkulan ng Aquino administration," he said.

The Palace official also fended off accusations that the 2015 budget would be used by the administration in preparing for the 2016 presidential election, saying the budget was crafted in line with the administration's Philippine Development Plan.

This development plan, he said, is anchored on economic growth and progress; social protection and poverty reduction; climate change mitigation and adaptation; security, peace and law and order; and good governance and anti-corruption. PND (as)

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President Aquino to meet with coconut farmers regarding coco levy fund
 
President Benigno S. Aquino III is scheduled to have a dialogue with coconut farmers on Wednesday to discuss the coco levy fund, a Palace official has said.

“Makikipagdayalogo si Pangulong Aquino at ang mga miyembro ng Gabinete sa pangkat ng Kilos Magniniyog sa Malacañang bukas. Handang pakingggan ng Pangulo ang mga usapin na ihaharap ng mga magsasaka at tukuyin ang mga programang isinasagawa ng pamahalaan para sa kapakanan nila,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Some 71 coconut farmers have been conducting a 71-day march, walking 1,075 kilometers from Davao City to reach Malacañang Palace on Wednesday (November 26). They have sought a dialogue with President Aquino to ask him to resolve the issue regarding the P71-billion coco levy fund.

Coloma noted that even though the Supreme Court ruled in November 2012 that the fund must be used to improve the lives of the coconut farmers, the High Court still has to go through an “entry of judgment”.

“At dahil dito, hindi pa maaaring ikonsiderang final at executory ang naging pagpapasya na iyon. Kaya’t kailangang maresolba ang usapin na iyan at humahanap naman ng paraan ang pamahalaan kung paano matutukoy ang mga kahilingan o mga pangangailangan ng ating mga magsasaka na habang hindi pa nakakamit iyang tinatawag na entry of judgment,” he explained.

In 1972, former President Ferdinand Marcos issued a presidential decree to collect fees from coconut farmers through the Philippine Coconut Authority. This fund was then used to buy shares in San Miguel Corporation (SMC).

In 2012, the Supreme Court declared that the SMC shares are "owned by the government to be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry." This however has not been realized.

The disputed fund is currently being held by the National Treasury and the United Coconut Planters Bank. PND (ag)

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Palace: Government measures are in place to protect poorest of the poor
 
The government will continue to provide social protection for the vulnerable segment of the population to shield it from the effects of fluctuating fuel prices, a Palace official said on Tuesday.

“Batid naman natin na ang pinakamalaking bahagdan ng ating pambansang budget—more than 37 percent—ay nakalaan doon sa social protection para bigyan nga ng tinatawag nating safety nets ang mga pinakamaralita at pinakamahirap sa ating lipunan,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

He was commenting on concerns that decreasing fuel prices have not resulted in lower transportation fares and have not reduced food prices.

"Iyon ang ginagawa ng pamahalaan sa iba’t ibang larangan, at ang ating mga programang pangkabuhayan at pang-ekonomiya ay nakatutok doon sa mga lalawigan na pinakamataas ang bilang ng mga maralita, ang mabigyan sila ng sapat na hanap-buhay at pagkakakitaan para hindi sila mapariwara," Secretary Coloma explained.

He noted that among the measures being carried out by the government are the Trade Department’s ‘Diskwento Caravan’ as well as the Conditional Cash Transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Ang ginagawa ng pamahalaan ay tinitingnan ang sitwasyon ng mga pinakamaralita at nagbibigay nga ng tinatawag na social safety nets. Ginagawa ang nararapat para magkaroon sila ng sapat na kakayahan na makabili ng mga kinakailangan nilang pagkain. Binibigyan din sila ng ayuda sa larangan ng kalusugan, sa larangan ng edukasyon. At kaya nga meron tayong Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program,” he said.

Coloma said that nearly 2.5 million Filipinos have already improved their lives as a result of the government’s poverty reduction program and social protection measures. PND (as)

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Palace welcomes poll results indicating rise in optimism among Filipinos
 
The Palace on Tuesday welcomed the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed a rise in the people’s net personal optimism.

“Ikinagagalak natin ito. We share our people’s high level of optimism that is based on the shared belief that our country is well on the path of sustainable, long-term and inclusive growth,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang.

“This belief is in turn anchored on their support for President Aquino’s good governance platform and the reform initiatives under the Philippine Development Plan,” Coloma added.

The SWS survey, conducted last September 26 to 29, showed that 39 percent of 1,200 respondents are expecting the quality of their lives to improve in the next 12 months, compared to 9 percent who said otherwise. This posted a net optimism score of +30, which is considered “very high”.

The SWS classified the net personal optimism score as “very high” for +30 and higher; “high” for +20 to +29; and “fair” for +10 to +19.

Coloma said the survey is important in gauging the people’s response to government programs.

“Nagbibigay sa atin ito ng indikasyon kung ano ang saloobin ng mga mamamayan at kung paano nila tinatanggap ang ibat-ibang mga programa ng isinasagawa ng pamahalaan para sa kanilang kapakanan,” he said. PND (ag)

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