House speaker asks PNoy to visit typhoon victims

The flooded cities of Pampanga, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija

Typhoons “Pedring” and “Quiel” has already left the country but the destruction and floods caused by these typhoons still haunts the residents of Bulacan, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

And amidst the crisis faced by the Filipinos, they clamor for the presence of “Father” of the country which is the President Benigno Aquino III.

Critics and even the speaker of the House asked the President to visit the areas affected by the Typhoon and at least have photo ops so that the said residents can at least feel that they are also important to the President and feel encouraged.

Meanwhile, the Malacanang Palace said the President has been busy fixing the Disaster Preparedness of the country that’s why he hasn’t been around for the past days. The preparedness of the country once again gain criticisms for not learning from the past typhoon disasters.

However, in recent news, the President is already visiting the affected areas as of press time. He visited Tarlac first then will visit Bulacan and Pampanga within the day. While affected residents said that more than the presence of the President, what they need is support, concrete action plans and relief goods from the government.

Aquino will take oath in Tarlac with a Barangay Captain?

SENATOR Benigno Aquino III, the apparent winner in the May 10 presidential election, he said that he would take oath rather than having an oath with a chief justice that was assigned by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Actually the barangay captain has no barong yet to wear to the oath of Aquino..

Aquino opposes Arroyo’s appointment of Associate Justice Renato Corona to replace Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who retires on May 17, saying it violates a constitutional ban on election-period appointments.

“I think his appointment will be questioned at some future time… At the end of the day, I do not want to start out with a question mark on the validity of my oath of office,” Aquino told reporters at Tarlac Funeral Homes.

Aquino was attending a wake for retired Col. Arnulfo Obillos, who was killed in a poll-related shootout in Cavite with police. He and his running mate Senator Manuel Roxas II held the news conference in a nearby chapel.

Aquino likened Corona’s appointment to an “insurance policy” for Mrs. Arroyo, whom Aquino has vowed to investigate for any acts of corruption in office.

“She probably assumes she’ll be facing a whole ton of cases… [and] she is looking for sympathetic or friendly faces from those who will try her case,” he said.

It is traditional for the chief justice of the Supreme Court to swear in the incoming president at the Luneta in Manila, but there is no law or constitutional provision requiring it. The Constitution merely spells out the oath that the president and vice-president must take.

Aquino’s mother, former President Corazon Aquino, took her oath at the Club Filipino in San Juan in 1986, while her rival for the presidency, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in at the Malacañang Palace.

A Palace spokesman said Aquino may take his oath before any other officer, but he could not refuse to recognize Corona as the next chief justice because Mrs. Arroyo followed the law when she appointed him.

In a radio interview, presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the incoming president must follow the law whether he liked it or not, adding the public would judge Aquino by his actions.

In a separate interview, Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said it was unlikely that Mrs. Arroyo would heed Aquino’s call to withdraw Corona’s appointment because she was within her rights to appoint him.

Mrs. Aquino’s former election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, told radio dzBB that Aquino’s plan not to take his oath before Corona would be an embarrassment for the country.

Breaking from the traditional oath-breaking ceremony would send the wrong signal and tarnish the Philippines’ image.

In a separate press conference Friday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel said he had suggested to Aquino that he take his oath before “the lowliest barangay official’’ to demonstrate his concern for the poor.

He said Aquino could revoke Corona’s appointment once he became president, but acknowledged that could create a constitutional standoff between the executive and judicial branches of government.

Noynoy: Hacienda Luisita distributed to farmers by 2014

TARLAC- With the ghost of Hacienda Luisita haunting his bid for the presidency, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vowed Tuesday to ensure the distribution of the 4,500-hectare plantation to farmer-beneficiaries by June 2014.

Aquino made the promise at a press conference in his family’s ancestral home in Concepcion town, which he chose to be the venue of his electoral campaign’s kick-off. [See: Noynoy seeks God's help at campaign kick-off in Tarlac]

Aquino said he has already asked his extended family – relatives of his mother, the late former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino – to find ways to distribute the land to 10,000 farmer-beneficiaries before the end of the government’s five-year agrarian reform program.

Aquino’s spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Noynoy is committed to ensuring the distribution of Hacienda Luisita land even if he loses in the May elections.

“It’s not just a campaign promise, it’s a matter of principle,” Lacierda told GMANews.TV over the phone.


Korean firm to invest $300M for Central Luzon ethanol plant

A Korean company is set to invest $300 million to construct an ethanol plant capable of producing 150 million liters of ethanol in Clark, Pampanga, an official of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC).

PADCC president Marriz Agbon said the Korean firm has forged a partnership agreement with local firm Central Luzon Bioenergy Corp. to develop 30,000 hectares of?farmland for sugar in Tarlac, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. Sugar will be the primary feedstock of the ethanol plant.

“It is the first time [for a Korean company] to go into bioethanol production in the Philippines. [The plant] is the biggest ethanol plant in the Philippines so far,” Agbon told reporters in an interview.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled on Feb. 12 while the construction period is expected to take two years. Commissioning of the plant is in 2012.

The ethanol plant will have a cogeneration component that will enable it to produce 40 megawatts of power. The PADCC chief said part of the power that will be generated by the plant could be sold to Clark or to the grid.

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Fil-Am activist bares ordeal

The alleged abduction and torture of Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas by the military calls for the immediate passage of the anti-torture bill pending in both chambers of Congress, House legislators said Wednesday.

They came out with the proposal after they heard the testimony of Roxas before the House Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III. During the hearing, Roxas broke into tears several times while reading her statement in which she narrated her ordeal in the hands of her abductors.

Roxas, who was forcibly taken by armed men in La Paz, Tarlac last May 19 and surfaced six days later, said that she was subjected to physical and mental torture during her captivity.

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