Filipino community in Laos eagerly awaiting President Aquino's arrival Sunday
VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic: Filipinos living and working in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are eagerly anticipating the arrival of President Benigno S. Aquino III, who is set to attend the 9th Asian-Europe Meeting that will be held here from November 5 to 6.
Apart from participating in the discussions to be held during the ASEM9 Summit, the President’s first visit to this fellow ASEAN member country will allow him the chance to meet with fellow Filipinos who have chosen to make Laos their second home.
Leodia Pagunsan, a native of Camiguin Island and now School Director of the Sangdara International Bilingual School here, said she and 15 of her compatriots working as teachers in said school expressed happiness and excitement after being invited to personally meet the President during a Filipino community get together that will be held upon the arrival of the President on Sunday (November 4).
“When I heard about being invited, I was very happy. Even up to now, I am still happy about the prospect of meeting the President,” Pagunsan said.
She said she feels like a child whose father is about to visit her after being away from home for too long.
“Meeting the President is not a simple event. We will be so happy to meet him because he is the father of our nation,” Pagunsan said.
Roselie Mabunga, Head Teacher for the Primary Level of the Panyathip International School here, echoed Pagunsan’s sentiments saying the President’s upcoming visit made her and her compatriots upbeat, elated and excited.
“May dalang sigla ang bisita ng Presidente natin dito,” Mabunga said in an interview.
She, however, wished that the President would visit Laos more often to impart to fellow overseas Filipino workers that they are not and have not been left alone.
“Happy kaming mga Pilipino dito kasi bibisitahin kami ni Presidente at ang feeling namin ay hindi kami napabayaan. Parang siya ang tatay, tapos dinadalaw kaming mga nagtrabaho sa ibang bansa,” Mabunga said.
Ashmad Hiya Hiya, a businessman who hails from Tawi-Tawi and Cavite City is also thrilled at the prospect of personally meeting the President on Sunday
“Maligaya kami na makikita namin ang Pangulo,” Hiya Hiya said.
“Sana magpatuloy ang magandang pamamaraan niya sa palakad ng gobyerno natin,” he added.
Hiya Hiya, who owns a guest house and restaurant called “Bahay Pinoy” here, will join Pagunsan, Mabunga and some 300 Filipinos in welcoming the President when he arrives on Sunday. PND(rck)
President Aquino expands investment areas for Filipinos
President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed Executive Order No. 98 to expand the investment areas and economic activities reserved to Philippine nationals under the 9th Regular Foreign Investment Negative list, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. announced on Friday.
According to Ochoa, EO No. 98, signed by the President on October 29, 2012, replaces EO No. 858, which has been in effect since February 2010.
The 9th Regular Foreign Investment Negative List enumerates the industries and business activities that are open to Filipino businessmen, and defines the extent of participation of foreign investors in areas allowed by specific laws and the Constitution.
“There are investments areas or activities which foreign ownership limitations imposed by law were not included in EO 858. Those changes are now reflected in the ‘List A’ of the new presidential directive,” Ochoa explained.
Among the amendments, Ochoa said, are the foreign ownership and foreign practice limitations imposed under the Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines (RA 9646), the Philippine Respiratory Act (RA 10024) and the Philippine Psychology Act (RA 10029) – all enacted in 2009 – and the Lending Company Regulation Act of 2007 (RA 9474).
Except for RA 9474, which allows foreign ownership of up to 49 percent in lending companies, the three others limit the practice of non-Filipinos in the areas of real estate and health care such as respiratory therapy and psychology, unless there is a reciprocity arrangement prescribed by a law.
List A of EO No. 98 specifies the areas of economic activity where foreign ownership is prohibited or limited by the Constitution or laws, among them the mass media, practice of all professions, cooperatives, private security agencies, small-scale mining, private radio communications network, private recruitment for local or overseas employment, advertising, ownership of private lands, lending companies, financing companies and investment houses regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
List B contains economic activities regulated by law such as small- and medium-scale domestic enterprises, defense-related industry (i.e., manufacture of firearms, etc.), and businesses that have implications on public health and morals (i.e., gambling, sauna, massage clinics, etc.).
“List A may be amended any time to reflect changes brought about by new laws. List B may be amended not more than once every two years upon the recommendation of the departments concerned and endorsed by the National Economic and Development Authority, or upon NEDA’s own initiative and recommendation, approved by the President and promulgated by a presidential proclamation,” Ochoa said.
“For now, List B stays while the changes to the negative list covers only List A,” he added.
Under the Foreign Investments Act of 1991 (RA 7042), foreign investors are allowed to own 100-percent equity in businesses excluded from the negative list.
EO No. 98 takes effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Malacanang says President Aquino continues to monitor situation in Metro Manila, provinces for safety of people
President Benigno S. Aquino III is continuously monitoring the situation in Metro Manila and in the provinces to ensure the safety of people during the observance of "Undas 2012," a Palace official said on Friday.
"The President intends to continue to monitor the progress of the security here in Metro Manila and other areas because of the Undas Exodus," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
The President vowed that concerned government agencies remain on heightened alert for the safety and orderly travel of passengers.
According to Valte, the Philippine National Police - National Capital Regional Police (PNP-NCRPO) reported that no untoward incident occurred in Metro Manila until 9 a.m. Friday.
Valte reiterated the enforcement of the ban against bringing into the cemeteries of any deadly weapon, liquor, gambling paraphernalia and other prohibited items to ensure the peace and solemnity of the occasion.
"Patuloy po ang kanilang pagbibigay ng seguridad sa mga bus terminals, sa mga seaports, at mukhang back to normal po nang kaunti ang volume ng mga pasahero dahil sa naging rush hour po kahapon," she said.
"But just the same, kahit po nag-normalize ang number of people sa mga terminals, the security will remain to make sure that nothing untoward will happen," she said. PND (js)
Government to provide assistance for family of Filipino killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The Aquino administration assured that it would provide the necessary assistance for the family of the Filipino who was among the 22 people killed in a fuel truck blast and building collapse in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, a Palace official said on Friday.
In an interview aired over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government extended its condolences to the family of Florentino Santiago.
Valte assured that the government is also extending assistance to Filipino workers who were injured during the explosion.
"Binabantayan po ‘yan ng ating embahada at sinisigurado na all the necessary assistance is being given to them by their employers," she said.
Valte said the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh is also coordinating with the employers to ensure the safety of all Filipino workers there following the tragic incident.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the repatriation of the deceased, however, is still being worked out by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.
Reports said a fuel truck crashed into a flyover, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and torched nearby vehicles. PND (js)
Aquino leaves Sunday to attend 9th Asia-Europe Meeting in Laos
President Benigno S. Aquino III will leave Sunday afternoon for the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) that will be held in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) from November 5 to 6, Malacanang said on Friday.
In a radio interview over government-run radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Friday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President will take time Saturday to prepare for his trip to Laos.
“Maraming preparations… ang mga briefing niya on the agenda at kung ano ang kanilang mga pag-uusapan,” Valte said adding that the President always prepares for all his meeting especially overseas.
The Palace official said Malacanang will be providing the media information on the President’s Sunday trip such as the members of his delegation, total expenses and the rough schedule of the ASEM trip.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), President Aquino’s attendance to the ASEM 9, his first since he assumed office, “signals the Philippines’ renewed focus on Europe and reaffirms the importance of the region as an economic and political partner.”
The President is expected to exchange views with his counterparts from the two regions on the Eurozone crisis, trade and investment facilitation, energy and food security, disaster management, counter-terrorism, migration, and regional issues during the two-day Summit.
Europe is the Philippines’ third largest trade partner after North America and Asia with trade pegged at $13-billion for about 12 percent of Philippine total trade to the world in 2011, the DFA said.
More than P33-billion investments also came from the European Union during the same period, primarily from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, it added.
The President will likewise showcase, during the summit, the reforms he has implemented to fight corruption and alleviate the lives of the Filipino people.
The Chief Executive is also expected to highlight Philippine’ accomplishments in good governance and inclusive growth and at the same time call for an enhanced Asia-Europe economic partnership in the midst of global economic uncertainties.
He will also underscore the importance of upholding the rights of migrant workers, especially at a time when most European countries encounter socio-economic difficulties.
As of 2011, there are 746,701 Filipinos living and working in Europe, the foreign affairs department said.
The ASEM is a dialogue process started in 1996 with the main objective of forging a comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe. It is currently composed of 48 partners – all 10 ASEAN countries, 9 other Asian countries, the 27 member-states of the European Union, the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat.
It is the only forum where Europe and Asia engage one another at the highest levels of government to discuss international issues of common concern and to formulate mutually beneficial cooperation on region-to-region basis.
This year’s theme is “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity.” PND (as/3:15pm)