Monday, 14 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, November 14, 2011

Aquino and 20 member economies of APEC pledge commitment in advancing green growth objectives

President Benigno S. Aquino and the 20 other member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) pledged their commitment by taking concrete steps to advance their shared green growth objectives.

"We can and must address both the region's economic and environmental challenges by speeding the transition toward a global low-carbon economy in a way that enhances energy security and creates new sources of economic growth and employment," the 21 APEC leaders said in the APEC Declaration issued on Sunday (Monday in Manila) at the conclusion of the 2011 APEC Leaders' Meeting at the JW Marriott Hotel here.

The APEC leaders noted that they have advanced these objectives significantly this year saying that in 2012, economies will work to develop an APEC list of environmental goods that directly and positively contribute to green growth and sustainable development objectives, "on which we are resolved to reduce by the end of 2015 our applied tariff rates to 5 percent or less, taking into account economies' economic circumstances, without prejudice to APEC economies' positions in the World Trade Organization (WTO)."

They also said that economies will also eliminate non-tariff barriers, including local content requirements that distort environmental goods and services trade.

"Taking these concrete actions will help our businesses and citizens access important environmental technologies at lower costs, which in turn will facilitate their use, contributing significantly to APEC's sustainable development goals," the APEC leaders said.

To promote their green growth goals, the 21 APEC leaders agreed to take the following steps:

-- Rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil-subsidie that encourage wasteful consumption, while recognizing the importance of providing those in need with essential energy services, and set up a voluntary reporting mechanism on progress, which APEC member economies will review annually;

-- Aspire to reduce APEC's aggregate energy intensity by 45 percent by 2035;

-- Promote energy efficiency by taking specific steps related to transport, buildings, power grids, jobs, knowledge sharing, and education in support of energy-smart low-carbon communities;

-- Incorporate low-emissions development strategies into their economic growth plans and leverage APEC to push forward this agenda, including through the Low-Carbon Model Town and other projects; and

-- Work to implement appropriate measures to prohibit trade in illegally harvested forest production and undertake additional activities in APEC to combat illegal logging and assorted trade. (PCOO)

Ochoa: Aquino gov't committed to end threat of illegal drugs

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. assured on Monday stakeholders in the campaign to stamp out illegal drugs in the country that President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration is fully behind their efforts and promised to mobilize all government resources to win the war against narcotics.

Speaking at the 2011 Anti-Illegal Drugs Forum spearheaded by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSSC), Ochoa said President Aquino backs the ongoing initiatives and the implementation of reforms to ensure the success of the anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“The bottom-line… is that all stakeholders have been willing to implement the reforms necessary to ensure that our people obtain justice,” Ochoa said. “In this mission, you can count on the full and whole-hearted support of the President.”

Being a lawyer himself, Ochoa conveyed to forum participants that he knows first-hand the processes involved in the disposition of illegal drugs and related cases. He mentioned that due to clogged court dockets, everyone involved in the campaign – from prosecutors to judges – will have to work overtime to secure convictions and ensure that those involved in drug-related crimes serve time in jail.

The Executive Secretary likewise emphasized that apart from the concerns stemming from the enforcement of anti-illegal drug laws and court hearing, it is also important to come up with a unified and comprehensive database on narcotics.

“Given the sheer volume of cases resulting from the operations of our law enforcement operatives, concrete steps to speed up and expedite the resolution of drug cases will go a long way to sending this strong and clear message to those involved in the drug trade: no one is untouchable, and the fate of those involved in the production, trafficking, and sale of illegal of illegal drugs is capture, conviction, and confinement,” Ochoa pointed out.

The objective of the JSSC, led by the Supreme Court together with the Departments of Justice and the Interior and Local Government, in holding the 2011 Anti-Illegal Drugs Forum is to identify issues, problems and gaps in the enforcement, trial, judgment, execution of penalty/corrections and rehabilitation/prevention in handling illegal drug cases and implementation of reforms.

A Joint Declaration in Support of the Campaign Against Illegal Drugs was also signed at the forum by Chief Justice Renato Corona, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Senator Vicente Sotto III and the Executive Secretary.

“This war does not only involve catching drug pushers and choking the supply of illegal drugs. It does not end with shutting down shabu labs nor destroying marijuana plantations. It also involves the rehabilitation of those who have fallen victim to the evil of drugs and the generation of employment opportunities for those provinces who have turned to cannabis farming as means of livelihood,” Ochoa said.

“The successful conviction of drug lords and elimination of drug syndicates remain the greatest deterrents against the production and proliferation of illegal drugs. To do this, we need all three branches of government to work together. We need to study and amend our laws, if necessary; we need to ensure the effective enforcement of the laws we already have; and finally, we need to find ways to speed up the resolution of drug cases in our courts,” he also said.

As chairman of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Ochoa has ordered a stepped-up drive against the proliferation of illegal drugs. Last August, operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) seized P100 million worth of shabu in a buy-bust operation.

Ochoa has also directed the PNP to strengthen security and peacekeeping efforts to effectively deter crimes with the onset of the Christmas season, as well as increase their presence and conduct high-visibility patrols around the country to fight crimes. So far, this effort has resulted in the arrest of smugglers, hijackers, and carnappers. (PCOO)

PHL joining other developing countries in UN Conference to fight climate change

The Philippines will join other countries in pushing to get financial assistance to fight climate change as the country’s negotiators leave for Durban, South Africa, for a global climate change conference.

Countries that met in Cancun, Mexico, last December agreed to create a green climate fund and it is expected that they tackle in the Durban meeting the way to access the money once the fund is approved, Mary Ann Lucille Sering, the vice chairperson and commissioner of the Climate Change Commission said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

President Benigno S. Aquino III chairs the Climate Change Commission, an independent and autonomous body that has the similar status of a national government agency.

Sering said that as they leave for Durban this month, they believe that the fund could be created because of intense debates among countries. The Green Climate Fund is probably the biggest fund that will address climate change, she said.

The Philippine was included in the list of recipient countries as a result of its increased advocacy and lobbying, she said.

“We are aware of the situation. We know how much we need. We know that what we need is not enough that’s why we continue to engage in extreme diplomacy with our neighbor to make sure that we can also adapt to these changes,” she said.

Countries are currently designing ways for easier access of recipient countries once the fund is agreed, Sering said, adding it’s for the Philippines national interest to get a share of the money.

If not all of the money could be given, at least the Philippines will have easier access to the fund, Sering said. She noted that they will not agree on long list of conditions for recipient countries.

At the same time, Sering said the Philippine has aligned with big developing countries to have a louder voice in the international scene. For instance, it joined the Group 77 that include India, China, Brazil, and South Africa to insist that if developed countries do not reduce their emissions, global warming will worsen.

Developing and rich countries are having a hard time agreeing on a certain deal because of the economic implications of massive emission reduction in their economies.

The Durban conference, which will be hosted by the government of South Africa, will take place at the International Convention Center in Durban. The conference will take place from November 28 to December 9.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world's governments, international organizations and civil society.

The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan in 2007, and the Cancun agreement last December. (PCOO)

Indonesian government assures safety of delegates to the 19th ASEAN Summit to be held in Bali

BALI, Indonesia: The Indonesian government has exerted all necessary efforts to provide a tight security for the heads of state attending the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits 2011 who are expected to arrive here on Wednesday, November16.

Indonesian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology Chief of Information Center and Public Relations Gatot Dewa Broto in an interview at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, here on Monday said that they have initiated all-out measures to ensure maximum security for the top leaders participating in the series of events during the Summit.

“I got the information from our security forces that they are assuring there will be no danger before, during and after the summit,” Dewa Broto said.

He added that the Indonesian government will not take any risk concerning the safety and wellness of the participating heads of state and their respective delegates.

“The security system is very high and tough because we are not taking any risk of any possible untoward events and any political disaster,” said Dewa Broto noting that “at the moment the political condition here in Bali and the whole of Indonesia is stable, and we guarantee that every head of state could join the summit without any worry, any disturbance..

Apart from the security concerns, the Indonesian Communications official added that they have also prepared for the needs of the journalists who are covering the big event to be participated in by other prominent leaders from other countries aside from the ten-member nations.

“For this occasion, we don’t want to have inconvenience especially for the foreign journalists, so everything, including the preparations for the press conferences and interviews we have handled it a lot,” Dewa Broto said.

“From the ASEAN-member countries and the other countries attending the related meetings we expect some two thousand delegates to join the Summit,” he added.

The ASEAN-member nations include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The Asean dialogue partners include Australia, People’s Republic of China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation and the United States of America.

Also expected to attend the high-level event is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (PCOO)

President Lee of the Republic of South Korea set for 3-day state visit on November 20-22

Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak will be coming for a state visit to the Philippines from November 20 to 22 in a bid to strengthen friendly relations and establish greater cooperation between the Philippines and South Korea, a Palace official said on Monday.

The three-day state visit to the Philippines of President Lee is upon the invitation of President Benigno S. Aquino III, according to Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.

"According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), magkakaroon po ng Korea-Philippines Business Forum organized by the Philippine and Korean Chambers of Commerce and Industry. President Lee will also participate in a town hall meeting at the Ateneo de Manila University," Valte said.

With the increasing number of South Korean tourists coming to the Philippines, Valte said both countries will continue to support each other in enhancing public information and tourism promotion activities.

The DFA announced that President Lee is scheduled to meet with President Aquino to discuss ways to further enhance the rapidly growing relations between the two countries.

Recent developments and the future direction of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-ROK relations will also be discussed, according to the DFA.

"In the past several years, the Republic of Korea has consistently been the top source of foreign tourists to the Philippines. Last year, the figure reached 740,000, accounting for 21 percent of all foreign tourists that visited the Philippines in 2010," the DFA said in a statement issued on Monday.

The Republic of Korea also counts among the leading trade, investment, and development partners of the Philippines, particularly in the fields of agriculture and infrastructure.

President Lee’s visit comes at an important point in the 62-year long history of Philippine-Republic of Korea bilateral relations, which was formally established in 1949. The Philippine-ROK friendship was reinforced by the deployment of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) in September 1950 to join the United States-led 16-nation coalition in defending the ROK against the communist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (PCOO)