Aquino Inspects Metro Land, Air, Sea Terminals

Last Monday, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) said that transportation services at Metro Manila’s major land, air and sea terminals have considerably enhanced from conditions last year, but further improvements can still be done.

Manuel Roxas II, Transportation and Communicatons secretary, accompanied President Benigno Aquino III last Monday on an inspection tour at Cubao bus terminal, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and Manila North Harbor.

According to Roxas, Mr. Aquino who made the same rounds last year has noted improvements at Cubao terminal, NAIA and North Harbor.

“Last year, there was really chaos. Now, people are queuing properly and we have more security measures,” Roxas uttered.

Before President Aquino leaves for Cambodia to attend the two-day 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ summit, he supervised the inspection first.

President Aquino told the reporters that he was there not only to assure that the security procedures is well executed at the terminals but also to ensure that terminals provides convenience and safety for departing passengers.

North Harbor

Even with the improvements, Secretary Roxas said that President Aquino still found numerous problems that he wants to be resolved as soon as possible.

“One problem that the President saw was that some of the urinals were not that clean. I will make sure that this is dealt with,” Roxas said.

The President’s inspection began at Manila’s North Harbor, the country’s busiest domestic terminal at around 10 o’clock in the morning.

A commercial vessel with a capacity of 1,929 passengers that was docked at Pier 2 and scheduled to depart at 3 o’clock in the afternoon namely MV St. Michael Archangel, was boarded by President Aquino together with Secretary Roxas and the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).

The ship’s route is at Misamis Oriental province, with stops at Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo.

President Aquino and Secretary Roxas were satisfied with what they saw. They’ve found out that the vessel had enough life jackets, life rings, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.

Data from the Coast Guard presented that more than 147,000 passengers lodged over 1,000 vessels that navigated to several destinations nationwide over the past 24 hours (from 6 a.m., April 1 to 6 a.m. April 2).

Terminal 3

Around 11 a.m., Mr. Aquino was at NAIA Terminal 3. The president accompanied one passenger to check how long the travelers had to fall in line outside the terminal before they could get inside the building.

“Our benchmark is that it should take a passenger 10 minutes at most to get into the terminal,” Roxas told the reporters.

“The Presidential Security Group (PSG) was already telling the President to get inside because he was exposed outside the terminal. But he wanted to see for himself. Fortunately, it only took them 5 minutes,” he added.

“It looked like they met their objectives,” President Aquino told the reporters.

“We are gradually improving facilities in the airport to better serve our people, especially during occasions like the observance of Holy Week,” Roxas said.

Cubao bus terminal

“We want to advise our people to allot more time when they travel this Lenten season. They shouldn’t make their travel plans at the last minute to avoid crowds and reach their destinations as planned.”

President Aquino had lunch with top airport administrators before leaving for the Cubao bus terminal inspection.

He arrived approximately 1 p.m. at the Cubao bus terminal for a 30-minute inspection. The land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) established a random drug-testing center.

Also at the bus terminal, LTFRB organized a pre-departure briefing for around 30 drivers, 11 of them were also subjected to breath analyzer tests to check if they had been engaged to drinking. All the drivers offered themselves for drug testing.

The random drug testing prepared last year by LTFRB for bus drivers has become a regular part of the “Oplan Ligtas Biyahe (Safe Journey)”, a program to ensure safe travel during Lenten season.

“We are making random drug testing a regular part of our ‘Ligtas Biyahe’ program to make sure our bus drivers are fit to bring passengers to their destinations safely,” Roxas said.  “We are doing this to ensure the safety of our bosses: the travelers.”

President Aquino said that the procedures at the bus terminal were “more systematized, and all the passengers I spoke to were smiling.”

Also the President noted that even the traffic on EDSA was easier. “So far I am much happier and I am confident that the preparations were all good,” he said.

Roxas part of Noynoy’s 5-man transition team

MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has included his defeated running mate, Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, in his 5-man presidential transition team.

In a letter sent to Malacañang on Wednesday morning, Aquino identified Roxas as one of the members of his transition team. The letter is dated June 11.

The other members of the transition team are:

former Education Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, who may return to the Department of Education (DepEd);

Julia Abad, Aquino’s chief of staff in the Senate;

incoming Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr.; and,

former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, who is reportedly being eyed to head the Department of Finance again.

The letter informs Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief Elena Bautista-Horn that the 5 individuals have been granted the authority “necessary and indispensable for the lawful and efficient transfer of government authority and responsibility on June 30, 2010.”

The letter adds: “These responsibilities include, and are not limited to, coordinating arrangement for the inaugural program, ensuring the smooth turnover of Cabinet portfolios, and assisting in the accounting and disposition of relevant records, information and equipment.”

Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, clarified that Roxas’s designation as a member of the transition team does not violate the 1-year ban on appointing losing candidates to government posts.

Lacierda explained that Roxas’s position in the transition team is Aquino’s personal designation, and is merely for the purpose of the transition.

Aquino earlier announced that he would give Roxas a position in government after the 1-year appointment ban on losing bets expires.

The incoming president also said that Roxas, who set aside his own presidential aspiration for Aquino, would have unlimited access to him.

The camp of Roxas has said they plan to file an election protest against Vice President-elect Jejomar Binay.

Meanwhile, Lacierda announced that Aquino has formally asked Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales to administer his oath of office on June 30 at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.

Binay’s lawyer and spokesman, JV Bautista, also told ABS-CBN on Wednesday that the vice president-elect has also asked Carpio-Morales to administer his oath. (Report from Pia Hontiveros, ABS-CBN News and read more on Yahoo! Philippines News)

Sen. Mar Roxas’ claims: “I will win by a slim margin!”

By: Mara Cordial

Sen. Mar Roxas

Sen. Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – Vice presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party (LP) expressively broke his silence yesterday and claimed that he would not lose hope and of course continue the running fight against his tough competitor, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino-United Opposition, until the very last vote is counted in.

Roxas just celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday and was trying to have a very relaxed good mood as he called a press conference. He’s been very quiet while observing the results since the 2010 elections last Monday.

According to Sen. Roxas himself, he was in fact leading by around 1.5 million votes over Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in Cebu, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental, as even pollsters Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) have not yet declared which of the two would win. He also said that the figures which were gathered by the LP showed a positive result, giving him a good way of winning over Binay, although by “a very slim margin.”

Korina Sanchez excited to celebrate Christmas as Mrs. Mar Roxas

Mar and Korina

MANILA, Philippines - Korina Sanchez is excited about spending Christmas with Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, their first as husband and wife.

Sanchez revealed that she is not expecting any gift from Roxas, who she jokingly described as “stingy (kuripot).”

“Ang ibibigay siguro noon ay pagmamahal o TLC (tender loving care). ‘Yong mga libre pero meaningful. It’s the thought that counts ika nga,” Sanchez shared.

Sanchez said through the years that they have been together as a couple, one of the most important values she imbibed from her husband is humility by keeping a simple life.

She has given him extravagant and expensive gifts, but the senator has shown her that material things are not important in a person’s life.

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Politics takes back seat at Mar-Korina wedding

TALK OF THE TOWN With arms raised in a victory campaign mode, bride and groom face the public for the first time as Sen. and Mrs. Mar Roxas (nee Korina Sanchez) after Tuesday’s wedding rites at Santo Domingo Church.

 MANILA, Philippines—The rites began an hour and a half behind the printed schedule. There was no empty space at the cavernous Santo Domingo Church that could seat as many as 5,000.

The afternoon temperature inside the church was threatening to go from warm to hot. Yet all these conditions seemed to have been ignored the moment the bride, a few seconds after taking her place before the altar, raised her hand, and with a dainty hankie, dabbed the sweat off the forehead of her groom.

Now that was the shot—not only for the sardined crowd in the church, but more so, for the possibly millions of viewers watching the live wedding on television.

The wedding Tuesday afternoon of Sen. Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II and TV broadcaster Korina Maria B. Sanchez at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City was undoubtedly a made-for-TV wedding. And it’s not incidental that Roxas is the Liberal Party’s (LP) vice presidential candidate.

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Mar, Korina exchange ‘I do’s’ today

‘Whatever happens in the future, it is Korina who is with me and we’ll go through it together

Undated photos show Sen. Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez as toddlers: ‘Whatever happens in the future, it is Korina who is with me and we’ll go through it together


MANILA, Philippines - After five years together, a two-day postponement (from Oct. 25 to 27), two-life altering events (a political decision and a super typhoon), Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas and broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez walk down the aisle of the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City today before some 2,000 guests in what has long been touted as the “Wedding of the Year.”

The Roxas-Sanchez nuptials unite high society with the working middle class, politics and show business, the newsmaker and the news reporter. And despite bets (mostly from women) that it wouldn’t push through, tales of disapproval and political strategizing (mostly from men), the wedding unfolds in what the groom describes as the beginning of “a great adventure.”

Roxas says no one knows what the future will bring, “what and where every twist and turn will be, what the peaks and troughs are, what the surprises will be.”

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Mar-Korina wedding: Media guidelines out

MANILA, Philippines—The couple have scaled things down by scrapping earlier plans to hold a reception for up to 10,000 guests at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Still, Tuesday’s wedding of Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and TV journalist Korina Sanchez—a celebrity nuptial expected to draw the Who’s Who of Philippine society—seems to have the trappings and protocols usually observed in state occasions.

Organizers, for example, deemed it necessary to issue a set of “guidelines” for media organizations covering the exchange of vows between the Liberal Party vice presidential candidate and the ABS-CBN star anchor.

Due to limited space, only accredited media groups have been invited to the 3 p.m. rites at Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, according to Roxas’ chief of staff, Blas James Viterbo.

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Mar Roxas is right on target

“Bawal magkasakit.” People may find this popular multivitamins ad amusing and may even laugh at the tagline that tells you “getting sick is prohibited” – but for most poor Filipinos, this certainly sums up the situation. After all, when you barely earn enough to buy food for your family, you certainly can’t afford to get sick simply because there is no money for medicines. Sure, some can go to the nearest barangay health center for a checkup and may even get a free drug sample or two (especially if a medical representative just happens to be conducting a “free clinic.”). But at the end of the day, most end up discarding their prescription when they find out how much the medicines cost.

In a country where an estimated 40 percent of the population live below the poverty line, it’s scandalous why medicines cost as much as 184 times higher than the international reference index. For instance, headache medicines that cost P3 in Pakistan are commercially sold here for P25. Sources say the cost of medicines in the Philippines is the second highest in Asia, next only to Japan. Ironically, we were the first country in Asia to enact a generics drug act to provide better access to safe and affordable medicines like antibiotics, at prices lower than branded drugs. Unfortunately, not much has been done for one reason or another, and enforcement has been dismal, to say the least.