Aquino tells DOJ, VP to look into cases of OFW drug trafficking

PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino has ordered Vice President Jejomar Binay and Justice
Secretary Leila de Lima to look into cases of overseas Filipino workers involved in drug
trafficking and find out how and why they managed to leave the country undetected by airport
scanners and other technologies.

The President issued the order in the wake of the inevitable execution by lethal injection on
Wednesday of three Filipino drug mules in China.

The President met Vice President Binay and Secretary de Lima Monday and asked them to
study the drug trafficking problem and identify the recruiters who use OFWs as drug mules.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said deployment agencies like the Philippine
Overseas Employment Authority and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration must
make sure that OFWs deployed abroad are protected from being turned into drug carriers by
private individuals or recruitment agencies.

Lacierda said the Aquino administration is issuing a stern warning against those using OFWs
in their drug trafficking and human trafficking activities. He said the government will go after
these individuals and recruitment agencies and make sure they get punished. (PCOO/PIA)

Palace to pursue corruption probe against previous administration

The Aquino Administration will pursue steps to make officials of the previous administration
accountable for allegations of corruption and wrongdoing, Executive Secretary Paquito N.
Ochoa Jr. said on Tuesday.

Ochoa made the statement after the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Executive
Order No. 1, which seeks to establish the Truth Commission whose task is to investigate
reports of graft and corruption committed by officials of the previous administration and their
cohorts from the private sector.

The Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 will not
deter us from pursuing measures necessary to look into the allegations of corruption by the
previous administration,” Ochoa said.

“While this decision may hamper and perhaps delay our efforts to obtain justice for the
people, we remain steadfast in our commitment to scrutinize the numerous allegations and
accusation in our quest for truth,” he added.

According to the Executive Secretary, Malacañang will file a motion for reconsideration and
explore other options within the bounds of the law to investigate, try and punish those who
may have used and abused their positions to enrich themselves while in office.

President Benigno Aquino III created the Truth Commission in response to urgent call from
the people to determine the truth behind reports of large-scale graft and corruption allegedly
perpetrated by his predecessor and her officials. (PCOO)

Government eyes barangay hot spots

WITH one week to go before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the Aquino
administration has identified six percent of 42,000 barangays in the country as “election
watch areas” or more commonly referred to as hot spots.

Among those identified as “election watch areas,” according to Interior and Local Government
Secretary Jesse Robredo are Abra, Masbate, Maguindanao and some parts of Mindanao.

Robredo disclosed this Friday before the start of the Philippine Business Conference at the
Manila Hotel, where he signed on behalf of the local government units the memorandum of
agreement with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the improvement of
the business environment.

“Based on our assessment, if you compare this with the May 2010 elections, we expect it to
be more peaceful and orderly as we have had intensive discussions and monitoring of the
situation in the local governments,” Robredo said.

“Basically we have categorized two groups such as areas with a proliferation of private armed
groups or private armies and those that have active presence of rebel groups like the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the New Peoples’ Army,” he said. (PIA)

Gov’t assures quick resolution of cases vs officials liable in hostage rescue

The Aquino Administration on Wednesday reiterated that it will ensure the quick resolution of the cases against the officials found liable in the hostage rescue last August 23.

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr. stressed that Malacañang would be closely monitoring all developments with regard to the recommendations made by the Palace in connection with the August 23 incident.

“We wish to assure the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese government that the Philippine Government is taking active measures to ensure the quick initiation and resolution of the cases to be filed against the individuals found liable in the August 23 hostage-taking incident,” the Executive Secretary said.

Ochoa said that aside from monitoring the cases, the government was also focused on making the institutional reforms to avoid a repeat of the incident, as well as prepare various agencies in responding to emergency situations in the future.

“We have already begun taking steps to implement the reforms needed to ensure that our police forces have the equipment and training necessary to properly respond to incidents of this nature,” he said. (PCOO/PIA)

Aquino approves P307.8-B borrowing program for FY 2011

The Aquino Administration approved on Monday its FY2011 borrowing program in the amount of P307.8 billion.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang announced in a press briefing at Malacanang on Tuesday that the decision was reached after President Benigno S. Aquino III met on Monday with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Budget Secretary Florencio Butch Abad.

“The foreign mix will be 70%-30%, in favor of domestic borrowing,” Carandang said.

He explained that of the P307.8 billion net borrowing expected, P45.1 billion will be external or foreign borrowing, and P262.7 billion will be the domestic borrowing.

At the same time, Carandang said the Aquino administration will also issue peso denominated global bonds aimed at raising funds to plug the country’s swelling budget deficit.

Programmed budget deficit next year was pegged at P285 billion.

Carandang noted that this will be the first securities float of the peso instruments in the global market as the Philippines usually floats global bonds denominated in dollars and even in Japanese yen.

The move is part of the Aquino Administration’s liability management efforts. (PIA/PCOO)