Statement of Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III
On the week of April 25-29, 2016
[Released on April 30, 2016]
We reiterate our condolences regarding the untimely death of John Ridsdel at the hands of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). As the President said, this tragedy has further galvanized our troops to continue eroding the ASG’s ability to function. In Basilan, operations continue against terrorist Isnilon Hapilon and his sub-leader Furuji Indama. Meanwhile, in Sulu, the full resources of the State are being utilized toward rescuing the hostages under Radillon Sajiron and ensuring the safety of other civilians. Rest assured that the government will continue to pursue and punish those who seek to put our communities under threat.
In Pampanga last Monday, the President attended the launch of two new components under the DILG’s Oplan Listo program. Started by former Secretary Mar Roxas in 2014, Oplan Listo aims to equip LGUs with the necessary training and material to more readily face disasters. As a result, during Typhoon Chedeng last year, we achieved our zero-casualty goal in the affected areas in Region II and III.
The components launched on Monday—dubbed Listong Pamayanan and Listong Pamilyang Pilipino—seek to further strengthen our disaster preparedness capacity. Listong Pamayanan, for example, involves setting up dialogues with stakeholders as well as organizing community simulation drills in case of tsunami or storm surge. Under Listong Pamilyang Pilipino, families are provided with emergency kits containing ready-to-eat food, water, medicine, and a flashlight and radio, among other necessities.
The next day, President Aquino traveled to Cebu, where he attended the opening of the 2016 Pre-Labor Day Job and Career Fair. Afterward, he proceeded to a meeting with local leaders and the community. In his speech, the President spoke about the government’s recent investments in Cebu. In terms of infrastructure, for example, the budget for Cebu increased from P12.6 billion between 2005 and 2010 to P34.8 billion from 2011 to 2016. Cebu will also soon benefit from the first Bus Rapid Transit System in the country.
On Thursday, the President attended the launch of the Freedom Memorial Museum, built in honor and memory of the victims of human rights violations during Martial Law. In his message, he reflected on the freedoms we now take for granted, but which were banned under Martial Law—including unhampered access to information. As the President said, we must never forget our experience under a dictator and remember that it took all of us, in a historic People Power Revolution, to take back the freedoms we deserve.
We have come a long way since embarking on the Straight Path in 2010. What others are still promising, we have already been working to achieve. Now, we must remember the lessons of the past and make the right choice between another possible dictatorship and the continuation of our hard-fought democracy. After all, do we want the next six years to count as another lost era? Or do we want to maintain the course and continue our upward trajectory? Let us make a choice that our people will one day commend, not regret.