President Aquino arrives in Auckland
AUCKLAND, New Zealand) President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived at the Aerobridge 5, Auckland International Airport Monday to begin his two-day engagement here filled with meetings with state leaders and attendance to business forums on top of his other activities.
President Aquino took the Philippine Airlines flight PR001 from Manila which landed at exactly 11:15 a.m. (New Zealand time), 45 minutes earlier than scheduled.
He was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia Benavidez and Minister Giovanni Palec of the Philippine Embassy in Wellington.
“Sa pagbisita ng ating pangulo dito lahat kami ay excited kasi lahat nararamdaman ng mga kababayan natin dito kung gaano ka-importante sila sa ating pangulo at gaano sila kalapit sa puso ng ating pangulo. Bakit? Dahil ang kauna-unahan niyang gagawin paglapag niya dito sa Auckland…ay makipag-panayam at makasama ang ating mga kababayan,” Benavidez said.
The Filipinos just had a grand reunion to celebrate this occasion hosted by Noblejas’ group in cooperation with the Council of Auckland Filipino Organizations and the New Zealand-Philippines Business Council, according to the ambassador.
“Malaking bagay ang planong pagpunta ni President (Aquino) dito kasi mas lalong makikilala ang lakas ng Filipino; na hindi kami abandoned; na they (are) continuously looking after our welfare kasi ‘pag may mga problema Philippines pa rin ang tumutulong,” Noblejas said for his part.
At present, New Zealand has around 36,000 Filipinos comprising one percent of its total population and its largest Filipino community can be found in Auckland numbering to more than 23,000, according to the Philippine Embassy here.
After his engagement with the Filipino community, President Aquino will grant an interview with Radio New Zealand before concluding the day with a private dinner at the SkyCity Grand Hotel where he is billeted
President Aquino to keep a busy schedule in New Zealand
AUCKLAND, New Zealand) President Benigno S. Aquino III will keep a busy schedule during the second and final day of his visit here on Tuesday before embarking on another trip to nearby Australia.
The President will begin his day by delivering a speech and fielding questions from top business executives of various New Zealand-based companies at SkyCity Auckland Convention Center.
He is expected to be given a ‘vote of thanks’ by Minister Maurice Williamson (Minister of Customs and Minister for Building and Construction, Customs, Statistics, and Land Information) before signing a memorandum of understanding.
Thereafter, the President shall hold a business meeting with the Energy Development Corporation and Alliance Select Foods International, Inc. at the SkyCity Grand Hotel.
He will then depart for Wellington where he will be given arrival honors and welcome ceremony that is usually accorded by the host country to the visiting heads-of-state at the North Lawn Government House.
President Aquino will sign the guestbook and attend a diplomatic reception before holding his bilateral meetings with Governor General Jerry Mateparae and Prime Minister John Key respectively.
Shortly after their meetings, President Aquino and Prime Minister Key will sign bilateral agreements between the Philippines and New Zealand as well as answer questions from the media in a joint press conference.
President Aquino will then proceed to the National War Memorial for a wreath-laying ceremony to be followed by a courtesy call from David Shearer, the leader of the opposition, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Wellington.
The President will cap his day with an attendance to the state dinner hosted by Governor General Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae at the Ballroom of the Government House before heading towards the airport to begin the Australian leg of his trip. PND (hdc)
Potential investments in agriculture, tourism eyed in President Aquino's state visit in New Zealand
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Potential investments in the sectors of agriculture and tourism are among the targets of President Benigno S. Aquino III’s two-day state visit here thus expanding the economic relationship between the Philippines and New Zealand.
In a press briefing here, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said President Aquino will witness agreements to be signed between business groups on top of a few executive agreements that the Chief Exexcutive will sign himself.
Carandang said one of the main purposes of President Aquino’s state visit here is to “link up our businessmen with those from New Zealand” so as to raise the level of awareness of its people when it comes to having economic ties with the Philippines.
"They are quite surprised to learn, for example, that the Philippines is probably the third or fourth largest market for their milk products. So we have a very thriving economic relationship with New Zealand but the problem is people here are not very aware of these economic links,” he said.
“So isa sa mga gusto nating mangyari, if we are able to hookup our businessmen with their businessmen, ay lumawak pa ‘yung trade natin para medyo makabawi tayo because we sell maybe about one third of what they sell to us,” Carandang added.
A business delegation from the Philippines including those involved in the agri-business sector were with the President’s trip to engage in potential business ventures with their counterparts.
"Agriculture ang malakas so there will be some agri-business exploration. They’ll be exploring agri-business ventures between New Zealand and Filipino companies. They are also very big on geothermal company. The Philippines, as you know, is one of the biggest producers of geothermal power in the world so there may be opportunities for the Philippines and New Zealand companies to get together and cooperate on things like that,” Carandang continued.
Carandang noted that the Philippines hopes to learn more from New Zealand which is known for its dairy and agricultural products hence Agriculture. Secretary Proceso Alcala is part of the President’s official delegation.
"There are technologies that they employ dito sa domestic dairy industry nila na pwede natin matutunan.
There are also Filipino workers in the dairy industry here na tumutulong sa mga New Zealand farms. So there’s a lot we can learn from the exchanges with the dairy industry,” he stressed.
On the tourism front, Carandang said the governments of New Zealand and the Philippines will be working towards the improvement of their people-to-people exchanges through a visitor exchange program.
"Let’s wait for the agreements to be signed before I give you the details. But, in broad strokes, we will provide opportunities for Filipinos to come here, get to know the country, and for New Zealanders to come to the Philippines and also to get to know the country,” Carandang said.
"Dito sa mga people-to-people exchanges umaasa tayo na lalawak ang tourism both ways. Kasi naghahanap din sila ng turista mula sa Asia. Ang mga tourist na nagpupunta sa New Zealand mostly Australian and American. Alam naman natin naghihirap ‘yung ekonomiya nila ngayon so gusto rin nilang makakuha ng turista mula sa Pilipinas,” he said further.
Carandang pointed out that while the 36,000 Filipinos living in New Zealand may help promote the Philippines, their number is considered ‘relatively small’ so that a government push for this bid would be better.
"The President will meet with the Filipino community here so I’m sure he’ll talk to them about that. … Katulad nga ng sinasabi ni Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez, the best ambassadors for tourism in the Philippines are the Filipinos living in other countries… 36,000 is pretty small ‘pag tiningnan mo kunwari sa Australia where you have more than 200,000. Pero we’re the fastest growing group here, so it pays for us to increase awareness din,” Carandang explained.
Carandang, also said that Filipinos working and residing n New Zealand are happy, who he said, seem to be well-adjusted already to its living conditions.
"Well-adjusted sila, masaya sila, maganda naman ang kita nila. Wala tayong masyadong issues dito sa mga Filipinos in New Zealand. Of course, we’re very happy to see that they’re well-adjusted and that they’re doing well and that they continue to support their families at home. This is a country where Filipinos have been treated very well,” he said. PND (hdc)
Official 'Facebook' page of Malacanang Palace by Presidential Museum and Library launched Monday
The official Facebook page of Malacañan Palace by the Presidential Museum and Library was launched on Monday in advance of the sesquicentennial (150 years) of Malacañan Palace next year, a Palace official said.
"Dubbed 'Malacañan Palace' the Facebook page features a rich heritage from its beginnings as a riverside rest house owned by the Rocha family to its establishment as the seat of power where Spanish and American Governors-General held office, and as the official residence of the presidents of the Philippines," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday
Published in conjunction with the Presidential Museum and Library website (www.malacanang.gov.ph) and the Presidential Museum and Library Tumblr account (tumblr.malacanang.gov.ph), Lacierda said these online resources are part of the mandate of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) as official custodian of the institutional memory of the Office of the President.
Lacierda said the initiative is aimed at harnessing social media to share the history, residents, traditions, and legacy of Malacañan Palace to a diverse online audience.
Through Facebook, Lacierda said the citizens online can contribute their own pictures and memories of the Palace thereby harnessing the Internet as a space for remembering.
"This way, Malacañan Palace is opened to the public through inclusive and people-centric social media," he said.
As of Monday, the Malacañan Palace page already has 1,177 likes which is indicative of a strong interest in the project. PND (js)
Aquino declares every third week of October as ‘Philippine Professionals Competitiveness Week'
President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared the third week of October of every year as the “Philippine Professionals Competitiveness Week” to underscore the important role of the Filipino professionals in nation-building and development.
The Chief Executive issued the declaration by virtue of Proclamation No. 487 signed by Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on October 2.
"The Philippine Association of the Professional Regulatory Board Members, Inc. (PAPRB), which is a non-stock and non-profit corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is composed of incumbent and past chairpersons, vice-chairpersons and members of the Professional Regulatory Boards (PRBs) under the administrative control and supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC)," the President said.
The PRBs and PRC regulate the practice of forty-six (46) professions comprising 3.2 million Filipino professionals.
"The skills and competencies of Filipino professionals have to be developed in order for the Philippines to become more globally competitive," the President said.
The PAPRB, in cooperation with the PRC, PRBs and other stakeholders, held the First Professional Summit on October 18-19, 2012 at the Manila Hotel, with the theme, “Convergence of Professionals for Nation-Building and Global Competitiveness.”
The President called on all registered and licensed professionals to give their full support for the observance of the “Philippine Professionals Competitiveness Week.” PND (js)
Palace welcomes Commander Bravo's support for Mindanao Peace
Malacanang welcomes the statement last week issued by one of the Moro Islamic Liberation Fronts’ (MILF) field commanders expressing support to the newly signed Framework Agreement between the Muslim separatists and the government.
Commander Bravo, one of MILF’s renegade commanders, called on the critics of the agreement to support it before making any unnecessary comments on the peace pact.
Bravo was one of the MILF rebel leaders who attacked several towns in Mindanao when the high court rejected an agreement reached by the MILF and Arroyo government a few years ago.
“We welcome a statement like the one issued by Commander Bravo. Ang mahalaga kasi niyan pag-aralan nang maayos itong Framework Agreement. Nakasaad doon kung anong magiging agreements, ‘yung framework for peace. So certainly, we welcome—at least Commander Bravo is giving pjeace a chance where war used to reign,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing on Monday in Malacanang.
Asked by reporters how the government would deal with Bravo because he is wanted by the law, Lacierda said the Palace is leaving the issue with chief government chief negotiator Marvic Leonen to thresh out.
The government and the MILF signed on Monday last week the Framework Agreement that will put an end to 40 years of Muslim rebellion in the south.
The signing was attended by President Benigno S. Aquino III and Malaysia Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and other partners.
Both the government and MILF negotiators will go back to Malaysia to iron out the annexes of the agreement and to come out with a comprehensive peace pact before the end of the year.
President Aquino is expected to issue an order creating a Transition Commission that will work on the implementation of the peace deal. PND (as/2:36pm)
Malacañang says Aquino government remains optimistic that amendment to Anti-Money Laundering Act would be passed by Senate
The Aquino administration remains optimistic that the Senate will pass the amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) after the Philippines managed to avoid falling into the black list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda issued the statement during the regular press briefing in Malacanang on Monday following reports that the Philippines remains on the gray list of the Paris-based FATF.
The FATF set October 19, 2012 as the deadline for the Philippine lawmakers to pass the third amendment. However, the amendment was not passed before the Senate adjourned last Oct. 17.
"Well, there was a deadline given to us. In spite of the deadline given to us they decided to retain us in the gray list and our AMLC (Anti-Money Laundering Council) has informed them that there’s the legislative process that is going on," Lacierda said.
"And the President (Benigno S. Aquino III) has already mentioned in his FOCAP (Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines) speech that he believes that the third tranche of the amendments would pass. So we’re just waiting for the Senate to deliberate on the third tranche of the amendments for AMLAC," he said.
Lacierda stressed the importance of the passage of the amendment in order to improve the country's laws against money laundering and terrorist financing.
"We were given until February to pass the third tranche of the amendments," he said.
Last June, the Philippines was upgraded from “dark gray” list to “gray” list by the FATF.
A dark gray listing means a country is not making sufficient progress against money laundering and terrorist financing. On the onher hand, the gray list signifies that a jurisdiction is making sufficient progress in the global campaign against money launderers and terrorists.
The Philippines will continue to contribute to and support for global efforts against money laundering and terrorist-financing in keeping with its commitment to good governance and upholding peace and order. PND (js)
Former rebels joining politics good for the country, Malacanang says
Former rebels entering politics is good for the country’s democracy, the Palace said on Monday as it welcomed the participation of some leftist personalities in the 2013 election.
“We have always maintained that a non-violent participation in the political mainstream would certainly be welcomed from whatever sector you come from whether from the extreme right or from the extreme left,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Monday.
“Because you acknowledged the legitimacy of the process, you acknowledged the existing laws and therefore, any participation from previous rebels identify with either extreme left or extreme right would certainly be welcomed to us,” he added.
Lacierda was commenting on reports saying Randall Echanis, a former political detainee during the Marcos, Cory Aquino and Arroyo governments, is running for a post representing the Anakpawis party-list.
Echanis, 63, is the deputy secretary general of the national peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). He is a peasant organizer and advocate for more than 40 years.
Echanis was previously arrested but freed under the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG). The military said it has information saying Echanis is a ranking New People’s Army (NPA) leader but the leftist group claims that he is a consultant to the National Democratic Front (NDF). PND (as/3:41pm)