Thursday, 17 November 2011

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aquino set to bring up dispute over West Philippine Sea in 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali

BALI, Indonesia (via PLDT-Smart)
– President Benigno S. Aquino III will be discussing the issue of dispute in the West Philippine Sea and the steps on further strengthening the long-standing economic and defense relations between the Philippines and the United States during his meeting with United States President Barrack Obama, here.

In a press briefing at the Courtyard Mariott Bali Nusa Dua Hotel, here on Wednesday, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang said that the United States has been exerting efforts to re-engage itself with the countries in the Asia Pacific region, including the Philippines, which they consider as important partners in economic and political development.

“I think what’s very clear is that the United States wants to re-engage itself in the Asia Pacific region, especially now that they’re winding down their commitments to other parts of the world. The Asia Pacific region has become much more important to them economically and politically. And what we’re seeing are manifestations of that increased importance that Asia Pacific, including the Philippines, is taking and I am sure the discussions between the two leaders will hew to that general theme,” Carandang said.

“As you know there are economic and security ties that we have longstanding with the Americans which certainly will be discussed,” he added.

When asked if the Philippines will seek security assistance from the United States regarding the dispute in the West Philippine Sea, Carandang said that the government has been considering the action.

“I think we’ve been doing what we can already with the West Philippines Sea issue and the American presence here, and the fact that they agree with our position is something that we find helpful,” Carandang noted.

He added that the government welcomes any assistance from the US, specifically in increasing the maritime defense capabilities of the country to cope with its neighboring nations in the region.

“Strengthened defense ties with the US, I think, in general will help build our defense capabilities. We have to play catch up with our ASEAN neighbors. You can see the naval capabilities of many of our ASEAN neighbors have exceeded ours and we really need to do some catching up as far as capability is concerned to the extent that the Americans can help us there and that’s always welcome,” Carandang said.

He said that the involvement of the US in the discussions concerning the claims dispute in the West Philippine Sea would help in the formulation of possible solutions to the issue.

“In as much as we think that it’s a stabilizing force to have many different players involved in the South China Sea issue or the West Philippine Sea issue. The more players there are, the more voices there are, I think will lend to more stability in the region with regard to dealing with this issue,” Carandang said.

The bilateral talk between President Aquino and President Obama is scheduled on Friday as part of the 19th Asean Summit and Related Summits.

Also attending the event are the heads of state of Asean’s dialogue partners that include Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard,Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and United Nations Secretary General BanKi-moon, among others. (PCOO)

Aquino off to Bali, Indonesia for 19th ASEAN Summit

President Benigno S. Aquino III left the Philippines Thursday morning to join other Heads of State for the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bali, Indonesia from November 17 to 19.

The President’s chartered jet left the tarmac of the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing at the Villamor Airbase in Parañaque City at around 8 a.m.

In his pre-departure speech, the President cited the importance of the regional bloc, established in 1967, aimed at the “creation of a cohesive, peaceful, stable and resilient region”.

“Lilinangin pa po natin sa pulong na ito ang mayaman nang ugnayan ng mga bansa sa rehiyon; at sama-samang tutugunan ang mga problemang kinakaharap natin sa kasalukuyan,” the President said.

Among the issues that will be discussed during the Summit, the President said, include “migrant workers, trafficking in persons, maritime defense, and peace and security.”

He added that the Summit would also provide a venue to further strengthen ties between dialogue partners “China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, and America.”

“Susulitin natin ang mga oportunidad na ito upang plantsahin ang anumang gusot sa ating mga bansa, at upang patatagin pa ang ating samahan,” the President said.

“Sa pakikipagpulong natin sa kanila, paiigtingin po natin ang pagtutulungan natin sa larangan ng maritime security, disaster management, pagsugpo ng mga krimen at terorismo, pangangalaga sa kalikasan at pakikipagkalakal,” he added. (PCOO)

Aquino creates steering committee on National Observances

President Benigno S. Aquino III has created a steering committee on National Observances to plan, organize, and undertake the commemoration of selected historical events.

The Chief Executive issued Administrative Order (AO) No. 23 on November 10, 2011, directing the committee to take charge the national celebrations of Araw ng Kagitingan, Independence Day, National Heroes Day, Bonifacio Day, Rizal Day and other historical events.

Republic Act (R.A.) No. 10086 mandates the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) to determine all factual matters relating to official Philippine history as well as develop and implement educational materials in various media for the popularization of Philippine history.

"Every year the NHCP initiates, through separate presidential issuances, the organization and implementation by different inter-agency committees of national observances to celebrate important events and honor key historic figures," President Aquino said in the AO.

With the issuance of the AO No. 23, the government will now have a permanent committee that will facilitate the necessary preparation and implementation of the programs for the celebrations of the historical events.

President Aquino designated the chairperson of the NHCP to head the committee. The committee shall be composed of officers, with a rank not lower than Assistant Secretary, from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Tourism (DOT) .

The committee shall formulate, organize and prescribe the manner of yearly celebrations of historical events. It shall draw up a mechanism among various national departments, local government units, and the private sector for effective mobilization and coordination of commemorative programs.

It shall monitor, evaluate and submit quarterly reports to the President on all programs of the committee and perform such other powers and functions as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Administrative Order.

The President directed all other government agencies to cooperate with and fully support the activities of the committee. The AO shall take effect immediately. (PCOO)

Ochoa: Gov’t to spend P6.7-M for P-Noy’s trip to ASEAN Summit in Bali

An estimated P6.7 million will be spent by the government for President Benigno Aquino III’s participation in the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit to be held in Bali, Indonesia from November 17-19, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Thursday.

The President left Manila Thursday morning via a chartered flight, accompanied by a 57-member delegation that included Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang.

“The President will be participating in the plenary sessions and bilateral meetings, wherein he will underscore, among other issues, the importance of maintaining peace, stability, maritime safety and security in the West Philippine Sea,” Ochoa said.

The P6.7-million budget covers expenses for hotel accommodations, food, transportation, telecommunications and equipment requirements.

Last May, President Aquino presented during the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta the Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFFC) as a solution to territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

During his three-day working visit to Bali, the President is expected to witness, among others, the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management AHA Center by foreign ministers.

The heads of states and governments of the 10-member regional bloc are likewise anticipated to forge the Bali Declaration on ASEAN Community in Global Community of Nations.

President Aquino’s attendance to the ASEAN meeting is his third since he became the Chief Executive last year. His first was in Vietnam in November 2010 and then in Jakarta last May.

Other members of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (PCOO)


Aquino arrives in Indonesia for 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali

BALI, Indonesia:
President Benigno S. Aquino III safely arrived at the Ngurah Rai International airport here Thursday to participate in the 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and other related summits as well as hold bilateral meetings with his fellow heads of state.

Southeast Asian leaders gathered at Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC) to formally open the 19th ASEAN Leaders’ Summit where they are expected to discuss various issues that concern the region and sign agreements which will further strengthen the diplomatic relations among their countries.

Upon his arrival, President Aquino is expected to head straight to the BNDCC to join with his counterparts on the remaining ASEAN activities for Thursday including the retreat session to be followed by the conclusion of the plenary session and ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting with the ASEAN Business Council Advisory Council.

Slight changes on the President’s original schedule owing to domestic situations he had to attend at home affected his attendance to the opening ceremonies and plenary session as well as his bilateral meeting with Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that was supposedly slated in the morning.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang represented the President in those activities. In a press briefing he had with reporters on Wednesday, Carandang said they are trying to reschedule the President’s bilateral meeting with his Thai counterpart.

President Aquino took the Bombardier Challenger 850 flight from Villamor Airbase in Manila which landed 12:08 p.m. here along with his official delegation led by Secretaries Albert del Rosario (Foreign Affairs), Cesar Purisima (Finance), and Gregory Domingo (Trade and Industry).

The President was welcomed by Philippine Permanent Representative to ASEAN Wilfrido Villacorta, his deputy Maria Teresita Daza, Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Maria Rosario Aguinaldo, and Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Capt. Rafael Mariano.

In the afternoon, the President along with his fellow heads of state will witness the signing ceremony by ASEAN foreign ministers on the Agreement of the Establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management as well as the Declaration on ASEAN Unity in Cultural Diversity: Towards Strengthening the ASEAN Community.

Thereafter, President Aquino will join his counterparts at the signing ceremony of the Bali Declaration on ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations which serves as his last official engagement for the day. (PCOO)

Palace welcomes Singapore Court’s decision on PIATCO case

Malacanang welcomed the decision of the Singapore High Court that denies the petition filed by the Philippine International Air Terminals Co. (PIATCO) to nullify the award rendered by an international arbitration tribunal.

The court’s decision also affirmed the annulment of concession agreements regarding the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA-3) and the order against PIATCO to pay the costs of the proceeding.

“It’s a victory for the government of the Philippines. It clearly shows the legitimate position of the government and this is not a hometown decision, this is a standard by a foreign court. So we welcome the development in the Singapore tribunal,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Thursday.

Lacierda said the government hopes that PIATCO will put closure to the case and will refrain from filing further cases in court.

He said the government always maintains the legitimacy of its position adding however that “we cannot read the minds of PIATCO so we leave it up to them.” While it is PIATCO’s right to insists its claim, he said the Philippine government wants PIATCO to move on.

Asked by reporters if the government is prepared for other challenges to be raised by PIATCO Lacierda said the administration will always be ready to defend the government position.

The decision also boosts the thrust of the Aquino administration to level the playing field in the country’s business sector, Lacierda said.

He noted that the government will continue to encourage investors to come in showing to businesses the administration’s greater commitment for more transparency and reforms in government.

The dismissal of the Singapore High Court of PIATCO’s claim is the fourth time that domestic and international tribunals have ruled against the legality of PIATCO and Fraport dealings in the NAIA-3 project. PIATCO asked the Singapore High Court to reverse the award rendered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) tribunal in July 2010 involving NAIA-3.

The Singapore court said it wasn’t convinced that the ICC tribunal misapplied the Anti-Dummy law, nor that PIATCO had been deprived of the right to be heard arguing that PIATCO was given due process before the arbitration tribunal.

The Philippine government was ordered to pay PIATCO $176 million last May as “just compensation,” an amount lesser than the P3 billion proffered earlier as the value of the NAIA-3. (PCOO)

19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations opens Thursday

BALI, Indonesia (via PLDT-Smart):
The 19th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits formally opened here, gathering leaders of the ten Asean-member nations to discuss ways on how to further strengthen ties and cooperation among them and work on fresh ideas that will lead to the formulation of solutions to the problems hounding the region.

The summits, which opened 9 a.m. at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center, here was also attended by the foreign minister and other officials of the member nations.

Due to the development of “domestic situations” that he has to attend to, President Benigno S. Aquino made some changes in his schedule of departure for Indonesia for the Asean meetings. Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang represented the President in the opening ceremonies.

Following the formal opening ceremonies, a group photo of the heads of state was taken which signifies the cooperation and brotherhood among the countries in the regional bloc.

Among the advocacies to be pushed by the President include migrant workers’ protection, promotion of human rights, the connectivity among the Asean-member countries, disaster management, biodiversity and maritime security and promoting a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFF/C) in the disputed areas of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), among others. (PCOO)