President Aquino joins nine other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the formal opening of the 21st ASEAN Summit in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) President Benigno S. Aquino III joined with the other nine leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the formal opening of the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits on Sunday here.
The President, who arrived in Cambodia with his delegation Saturday night, proceeded to the Peace Palace, the venue of the summit, at around 9 am (Cambodia time).
Other ASEAN leaders also arrived at the Peace Palace with their spouses. They were welcomed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the first lady Lok Chumteav Dr. Bun Rany Hun Sen.
Following the welcome message of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the President together with his ASEAN counterparts likewise posed for the traditional photo session.
During the opening ceremonies, the leaders also launched the ASEAN Institute of Peace and Reconciliation.
Later, the President is expected to join the Plenary Session, the signing of the ASEAN Leaders Statement on the Adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, the ASEAN Leaders meeting with ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC), Retreat Session, and the bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of India..
Among the country's position that he is expected to push during the three-day summit include maritime security and cooperation in the West Philippine Sea, human rights and protection of migrant workers, among others.
Aside from the summit, ASEAN leaders are also meeting with their 10 dialogue partners, namely, Australia, Canada, China, European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States as well as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
At the same time, the ASEAN leaders are also expected to finalize the preparations for an ASEAN community by 2015. Cambodia, this year’s summit chair, adopted the theme “ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny.”
ASEAN is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Established in 1967, ASEAN as a regional block which aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in Southeast Asia. ASEAN also seeks the promotion of regional peace and stability through the rule of law and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. PND (as)
Malacanang appeals to pyramid scam victims 'not to take the law into their hands'
Malacañang appealed to the victims of a large-scale pyramid scam in the Visayas and Mindanao not to take the law into their own hands saying that local enforcement authorities were working furiously to expedite the capture and prosecution of those behind the swindle.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte aired the appeal in a press briefing over state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.
She said the government was concerned about the series of criminal acts being perpetrated by victims against officials and employees of Aman Futures Group, Incorporated to recoup the millions of pesos lost from investing with the doomed multi-level marketing company.
“We reiterate our appeal to the investors not to take the law into their own hands,” Valte said.
“The authorities are moving quickly on this. Lahat po ay ginawaga ang kanilang makakayanan upang mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga nalokong investors,” she added.
Valte noted that the President had instructed law enforcement agencies to move quickly in order to bring to justice the brains behind the scam.
“Well so far, the instructions of the President are to proceed as quickly as possible. The law enforcement agencies are coordinating with officials in Malaysia where the president of Aman Futures is said to have gone,” Valte said. PND (rck)
President Aquino and other nine ASEAN leaders sign PHNOM PENH Statement on Adoption of ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: President Benigno S. Aquino III joined fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Sunday in signing the declaration that ensures protection and promotion of human rights in Southeast Asia.
The President and the other nine ASEAN leaders gathered at the Peace Palace here following the Plenary Session of the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits to sign the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
In a press conference after the signing, ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan said there was a development Saturday during the crafting of the declaration when the ASEAN foreign ministers added one important paragraph in the operational phrase and that is “to commit ourselves to the universal declarations instruments of human rights.”
The ASEAN will commit to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in addition to its own declaration and instruments, the secretary general said.
The regional bloc will not only pursue the protection and promotion of human rights but also maintain the highest human rights standard as expressed in various instruments and declarations of the international community.
“I think that is a major, major development and member states feel quite ready to endorse. And this morning before lunch the leaders have just signed that into a declaration, committing themselves—every government, every country to the highest standards existing and available, and this can be used to monitor the practice, the protection, the promotion of human rights in the ASEAN countries,” Pitsuwan said.
Aside from advocating human rights, President Aquino is expected to push for maritime security and cooperation in the West Philippine Sea, and protection of migrant workers during the three-day summit. PND (as)
President Aquino underscores need for increased maritime security, peace and stability in ASEAN
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the need for an increased maritime security and peace and stability in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, particularly in connection with the disputed West Philippine Sea.
During a media briefing at Landscape Hotel on Sunday here, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said that the President echoed this statement during the Plenary Session which was attended by his ASEAN counterparts.
“I wish to reiterate the need for maritime security and cooperation in ensuring freedom of navigation, in combating piracy, and in maintaining peace and stability in our region. The ASEAN six-point principles on the South China Sea manifest our collective vision—a vision founded on the principle of centrality. My country supports its effective implementation which will highlight the fruits of constructive dialogue, strengthen our resolve, and reaffirm our respect for international law such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Coloma quoted the President as saying during the Plenary Session.
President Aquino, in his intervention during the Plenary Session, emphasized the six-point principles agreed by the ASEAN and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), which will pave the way for the crafting of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, Coloma said.
President Aquino’s position was affirmed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who said that ASEAN member countries should maintain calm and exercise self-restraint with regards to the West Philippine Sea issue, he added.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reiterated the significance of the six-point principles, the DOC, and the Code of Conduct, in ensuring maritime security and safety.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also said that ASEAN countries should abide by the six-point principles and the DOC, exercise maximum restraint and refrain from initiating provocative actions, and start discussions with China on the Code of Conduct.
The Singaporean leader said that the ASEAN needs to speak up and not take sides, maintain neutrality and adopt a forward-looking attitude to resolve the issue. PND (as)
ASEAN leaders laud Philippines for Mindanao peace efforts
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expressed elation over the signing of the Framework Agreement for Mindanao peace noting that the regional grouping must manage or resolve all internal conflict as the ASEAN region moves towards a single community by 2015.
During a press conference at the International Press Center here, ASEAN Secretary-General, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan said there was a high level discussion among ASEAN leaders at the 21st ASEAN Summit Plenary Session Sunday morning about the need to stop internal conflicts and violence within the ASEAN region as it forms one community.
“We owe it to each other to make sure that internal violence and conflicts will be managed. The ASEAN leaders have expressed appreciation to the President of the Philippines...that the government of the Philippines has agreed with the southern elements to return to peace, development, and cooperation,” Pitsuwan said referring to the Framework Agreement.
“The overall sense and opinion in the room is that, yes, we need to make sure that internal conflict, internal violence shall be managed and resolved as we move into the ASEAN community,” he stressed.
The violence between Muslims and Buddhists in Rakhine State in Myanmar last October made internal conflict a concern among ASEAN member countries. The Myanmar violence killed at least 89 people. Myanmar’s President Thein Sein blamed nationalist and religious extremists for the crisis. PND (as)
Aquino in good spirits despite his flu
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: President Benigno S. Aquino III is in good spirits despite suffering from influenza and allergic rhinitis prior to his attendance to the 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits here, a Palace official said.
“The President is in good spirits. He is very energetic. He is animated by the significance of his participation in this vital forum,” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said in a media briefing at the Landscape Hotel.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, who joined Coloma in the briefing, said the President always makes it sure that he’s taking his medication on time.
Almendras said the President’s will and the intent to be at the summit are driving him to work and join with his ASEAN counterparts.
He said that the President doesn’t want to miss the opportunities and interactions with fellow leaders that’s why he proceeded with the trip.
According to the Cabinet Secretary, the President has 10 opportunities to speak in the forum, two plenaries, two retreats, and bilateral meetings adding that the Cabinet and the President prepared statements for each forums or engagements.
“This is one of the primary considerations why the President really decided to come over. It’s a rare opportunity to participate in these dialogues and we do have something to say in most of them,” Almendras concluded. PND (as)
ASEAN eyes smooth journey towards regional integration, says Coloma
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) Aside from many issues affecting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an overarching concern of the ASEAN leaders is the movement towards 2015 of the regional bloc, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr. said on Sunday.
Coloma and Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras held a media briefing with Palace reporters covering the ASEAN 21st summit at Landscape Hotel here following the attendance of President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Summit’s Plenary Session.
Coloma said there is a common and shared commitment to establish the ASEAN community by 2015, and the ASEAN heads of states acknowledged the importance of achieving the goal for the credibility of ASEAN as a regional grouping.
The agenda is quite hefty, Coloma said as he noted the three pillars of the ASEAN community roadmap such as political security, economic, and socio-cultural.
“The whole theme is really moving towards the ASEAN community of 2015 and there are three pillars of that community,” Coloma stressed.
“Within ASEAN, the member-states really want to move purposively towards a stronger political security community which is indispensable if the region is going to achieve economic growth,” he added.
During the Plenary Session, Coloma said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen mentioned the master plan on ASEAN connectivity and integration.
Among these items include the resolution of tariff and non-tariff issues, the investment liberalization communication and transportation and the development of small and medium enterprises.
The Prime Minister also described the challenges that are facing ASEAN on the global front, Coloma said. These are the European debt crisis, the US fiscal cliff, the Asian economic slowdown, the current Palestinian conflict, climate change, transnational crimes, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
President Aquino joined fellow ASEAN leaders in the Summit’s Plenary Session Sunday morning to tackle a wide range of issues. PND (as)
President Aquino closely monitors Israel-Palestine situation while in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) President Benigno S. Aquino III is closely monitoring the current Israeli-Palestinian standoff given the significant number of Filipinos in the area should the crisis escalate, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said on Sunday.
Almendras and Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. conducted a media briefing at the Landscape Hotel here after joining the President in the 21st ASEAN Summit Plenary Session at the Peace Palace, the summit venue.
He said that the President is keeping in touch with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on the Israeli-Hamas situation.
Citing figures from Secretary del Rosario, Almendras pointed out that there are 100 Filipinos in the Gaza area and 41,000 in Israel.
“The rapid response teams of the DFA are already on the move and they know what to do in order to get the Filipinos out of harms’ way in that area,” he said.
“The President, as he has always done whenever he is in an overseas engagement, he makes sure that all of the other important issues are properly addressed and this is what he has done," Almendras said.
The Cabinet Secretary said that at present, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv has been calling Filipinos in Gaza asking about their situation. However, he emphasized that the Filipino workers that have been contacted in the affected areas said that they would prefer to stay in their respective posts in the mean time.
According to Almendras, the Philippine Embassy in Egypt has formed a team to assist Filipinos if the situation escalates further. He added that if the Filipinos decide to move out, the Philippine Embassy in Egypt will be ready to handle them.
Renewed tensions erupted in Palestine and Israel as Israeli and Hamas forces traded rockets which has led to the death of many civilians. It was reported that Israel has called up thousands of military reservists for a possible assault. PND (as)
Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations adopt the Bali Concord III Plan of Action for 2013 to 2017
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the Bali Concord III Plan of Action for 2013 to 2017 during the Plenary Session of the 21st ASEAN Summit here, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said.
The Bali Concord III was signed at the 19th ASEAN Summit by the 10 heads of state/government during the chairmanship of Indonesia in 2011. The Bali Concord III focuses on the three pillars of the ASEAN such as politics and security, economy and socio-culture.
Under politics and security cooperation, the declaration calls for conflict resolution, fighting transnational crime, piracy and corruption eradication as well as nuclear disarmament.
It also calls for ASEAN's participation in the global economy, the strengthening of the regional economy, adoption of product standards, access improvement, increased agricultural investment and energy diversification.
The declaration also pushes for enhanced cooperation on natural disaster mitigation and management, climate change, health, education and culture.
Aside from adopting the Bali Concord III, the ASEAN leaders signed the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights. President Benigno S. Aquino III joined his counterparts in signing or adopting the declarations during the opening day of the summit. PND (as)
Philippines to provide assistance to Filipino Overseas Workers affected by recent oil rig blast off the Coast of Louisiana in America
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is working hard to render immediate assistance to the Filipinos affected by the recent oil platform blast off the Louisiana coast in the United States, a Malacañang official said Sunday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma, Jr. told Manila-based reporters during a media briefing here that the nearest Philippine Embassy in the US had already taken the necessary actions in response to the situation.
“You can be sure that the nearest Philippine consulate or embassy would have immediately taken action to establish their identity, to get in touch with their nearest kin, and also to provide immediate assistance—medical or otherwise,” Coloma said.
Coloma noted that the DFA is acting on it in accordance with the protocols as part of its mandate to attend to the needs of our countrymen living and working overseas.
“There are protocols that our Department of Foreign Affairs is dutifully following and this is because that’s one of the priorities of the diplomatic posts ---attention to nationals. That’s one of the three important priorities of any diplomatic office. So you can be sure na inaasikaso na agad ‘yan,” he stressed.
Two Filipinos were reported missing following the explosion of an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Philippine Embassy in the US has just confirmed that one of them has already been found lifeless near the accident scene.
“We regret to announce that the body that was recovered near the accident scene a few hours ago belongs to one of our two missing kababayans," Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. was quoted saying in a November 18 press release posted by the Philippine Embassy in the US in its website.
“We continue to hope and pray that our other kababayan is still alive and would be recovered soon,” he added.
Aside from the two, four other Filipinos suffered serious burns and are now being treated at the Regional Burn Center of the Baton Rouge General Hospital, also in Louisiana.
An information gathered by the Philippine Embassy said all victims are employees of the Grand Isle Shipyard that provides manpower to Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC, the Houston-based independent oil and gas company that owns the stricken platform. PND (hdc)