Tuesday, 6 November 2012

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Japan supports Philippines position of settling territorial dispute on West Philippine Sea through diplomatic, peaceful means
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – The Philippines can now count on Japan as an ally in its stand that the best and only way to settle the territorial dispute on the West Philippine Sea is through diplomatic and peaceful means following international law.

 Japan now joins Norway, Switzerland, the European Council and the European Commission in supporting the Philippines on its stand concerning this highly contested “body of water.”

 In a meeting with the media delegation who covered his attendance to the 9thAsia-Europe Meeting being held here from November 5 to 6 late Monday night, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Japan threw its support on the Philippines’ position during a bilateral meeting between the two countries at the sidelines of the Summit.

 “Pareho namang nagkaroon ng reaffirmation na gusto natin ng peaceful solution. For both ends, talaga namang sinusubukan nating i-deescalate ang situation,” the President said.

 He added that he would bring up the issue of the West Philippine Sea when member countries of ASEM9 convene for the second session of the plenary meeting on Tuesday.

 Earlier, Presidential Communication and Operations Office Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma, Jr. said that during bilateral meetings with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, Swiss Confederation President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, European Council Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Varroso, the four leaders were for the Philippines’ position to resolve disputes in the area peacefully and following international law.

 “In particular, Switzerland and the EU and in part Norway indicated their firm support to our position that conflicts or disputes in that area are to be resolved peacefully and following international laws and in particular there is firm support for an ASEAN-centric approach which has always been the position of President Aquino considering four out of the 10 member states of ASEAN have specific stakes in the West Philippine Sea,” he stressed.

 “Therefore the only logical approach to any conflict resolution will have to be multilateral and involving all stakeholders therein,” Coloma said. PND (rck)

Aquino wants history books to reflect dark time in country's history when government supressed freedom
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – Aside from working for the immediate release of compensation benefits for Martial Law victims, President Benigno S. Aquino III further wants history books to reflect that dark time in Philippine history when a duly constituted government suppressed the freedom and took advantage of the Filipino people.

 “…kailangan klaro sa mga aklat ng ating kasaysayan na nagkaroon ng panahon na ang gobyernong itinatag ng taumbayan ay ginamit para supilin ang mga karapatan ng taumbayan,” the President said.

 He said that by putting this dark chapter in history books it would ensure that Martial Law would never happen again.

 “…kailangan may formality for future generations na may aberrant period, merong bangungot na nangyari sa sambayanang Pilipino na walang kaduda-duda at maliwanag para masigurado nating ‘di na maulit sa mga darating na panahon,” the President said.

 The President vowed to push this important step to both Houses of Congress in order for this advocacy to be a reality.

 “…ang pangako ko nga, ang commitment ko, itutulak ko nga sa both Chambers. We will appeal to them…I think, the primary interest has to be that the current---our government states that once upon a time, it failed in its mission to serve the people and actually oppressed the people. That has to be clearly stated and that law will put it in our law books and will put clarity for future references in our history books,” the President said. PND (rck)

President Aquino amenable to P40-billion sin tax  revenue
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that he is amenable to the lowering of the revenues to be generated by the Sin Tax measure at P40-billion but would be “happier” if it remained at the proposed P60-billion mark.

 The President said that although the proposed original amount had been downsized, his government could still use the new amount to manage the deficit and fund healthcare programs.

 “Mabuti sana kung 60 magagamit ng healthcare programs. For 40, I think, is also a good number,” the President said.

 “At 40, we’re happy. At 60, we’ll be happier. For 40 is already, I think, sufficient to meet the objectives both in terms of gaining more resources, managing the deficit but most importantly addressing the health issues. Most of the funds that will be generated are earmarked for supporting our health program,” he added.

 The money to be collected from sin taxes will be spent in building more health facilities, rural health units, district hospitals, and other facilities and will also be used for premiums for the expanded coverage of PhilHealth, the State’s healthcare insurance program. PND (rck)

Philippine government to provide assistance to overseas Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam implicated in tanker blast and drug trafficking, respectively
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – President Benigno S. Aquino III assured the overseas Filipino worker of legal assistance in connection with his implication in a tanker blast that killed 23 others in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia last November 3.

 The President, during a coffee meeting with the media delegation covering his attendance to the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) here, said that the Department of Foreign Affairs, through Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, was working with the Saudi government into investigating the tragic accident.

 “Last information that we had, sir, is that he was still in the custody of the authorities. And we will be providing him all the assistance that he requires,” Del Rosario, who was with the President during the coffee meeting late Monday night, said.

 As for the Filipina in Vietnam who has been charged with drug trafficking and now faces the penalty of death, the President said he will appeal to Vietnam Premiere Nguyen Tan Dung for the commutation of the sentence.

 “‘Yung sa Vietnam, I probably, will try to look for an opportunity to talk to Premier Nguyen Tan Dung who’s a good friend of our country… Tayo naman ang lalapit ngayon na ang minimum na pakiusap natin kahit tinanggal na natin ang death penalty, ihingi natin minimum commutation sana. Kung
 kailangan life imprisonment pero not to minimum death,” the President said.

 Reports have identified the driver of the tanker as Robin Kebeng, who has been working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a year. He is supposedly now under the custody of the Criminal Investigation Office (CIO) in Riyadh, while the Filipina in Vietnam has been identified as Amodia Teresita Palacio, 61, who was arrested at a Hanoi airport for possession of the illegal substance, known in the Philippines as shabu. PND (rck)

Philippines and Japan vow to remain steadfast partners of development
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT) –- The Philippines and Japan have vowed to remain steadfast partners of development in a move seen to further strengthen relations between the two countries.

 President Benigno S. Aquino III held a bilateral meeting on Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at the sidelines of the 9th Asia Europe Meeting here.

 Prime Minister Noda pledged to continue working with the Philippines on development projects while President Aquino cited Japan as a “longtime, valuable and strategic partner of the Philippines” through its official development assistance program.

 Prior to the bilateral meeting, President Aquino joined the other heads of state and government of the Asian and European countries attending the 9th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) during its formal opening ceremonies held at the National Convention Centre here.

 In the formal opening ceremonies, President Aquino and the other heads of delegations were welcomed by Lao People’s Democratic Republic Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and then by Lao President Choummaly Sayasone. Thereafter, the heads of ASEM delegations posed for a group photo session.

 After the group photo session, President Aquino also participated in the
 ASEM Enlargement Ceremony where the Lao President personally congratulated the Republic of Bangladesh, the Kingdom of Norway and the Swiss Confederation on their admission as new partners of ASEM.

 Earlier, President Aquino held three separate bilateral meetings with the heads of Norway, Switzerland and European Union. It was President Aquino's first time to attend the ASEM Summit since his assumption into office in June 2010. PND (co/rck)

President Aquino dons traditional Lao silk at Gala dinner hosted by Lao PDR President for ASEM heads of state and government
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – After a full day of successive bilateral meetings and plenary sessions marking the formal opening of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) here, Heads of State and Government were given the chance to loosen their ties, roll up their sleeves and let their hair down at a gala dinner hosted by Lao PDR President Choummaly Sayasone and Mrs. Keosaychay Sayasone at the Don Chan Palace Hotel on Monday night.

 President Benigno S. Aquino III came to the dinner dressed to the nines garbed in a traditional Lao blue silk shirt, dark slacks and comfy leather driving shoes looking cool and composed as he gamely chatted and shook hands with his counterparts from ASEM member-countries.

 He complimented the Lao silk shirt saying it kept him warm despite the chilly atmosphere recorded in the room due to the hotel’s large air conditioning units at full blast.

 The President joined the rest of the 52 Heads of State and Government together with their spouses at the close of the first day of ASEM9.

 They were welcomed by President Sayasone and Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at the lobby area before being escorted to their respective seats at the hotel’s Gala Dinner Hall.

 The Gala Dinner was highlighted by a cultural presentation participated by Laotian performers. PND (rck)

Aquino underscores need for enhanced economic ties between Asia and Europe
 VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic (via PLDT) -– Citing the importance of a reinforced Asia-Europe economic partnership, President Benigno S. Aquino III called for enhanced economic ties between Asia and Europe, saying that it is to the mutual benefit of the two regions.

 The Chief Executive made the statement during the First Session of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) hosted by Lao People's Democratic Republic under the theme, "Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity." This is the first time President Aquino attended the ASEM Summit since he assumed office in June 2010.

 "Excellencies, Asia and Europe are both in a defining juncture in their respective development narratives. And it is to the mutual benefit of our two regions that we further strengthen our economic relations. Asia needs Europe to realize its projected future of broad-based prosperity, just as Europe needs Asia to hasten its long-term economic recovery," the President said.

 "A reinforced Asia-Europe economic partnership, founded on the principles of equality and mutual respect, is therefore imperative," he stressed.

 During his speech before the ASEM9 plenary session, President Aquino highlighted the accomplishments of the Philippines in good governance and inclusive growth over the past two years.

 "The Philippines cannot claim to have all the solutions, but perhaps I can share with you a few early lessons we have learned in our pursuit of inclusive growth in our country," he said. "The overarching strategy we have implemented these past two years has been simple – Good governance means good economics. Our management efforts reflect a single national vision. By eliminating waste, we maximize our gains, and by so doing increase our people's chances to improve their lot in life."

 "This principle is seen in the zero-based budgeting system which we have instituted. The goal is clear – to ascertain that every peso used for projects and programs is truly for the benefit of our countrymen. Moreover, by cracking down on tax evasion, smuggling, and money laundering, we have increased government revenues," he further said.

 Based on the latest report, the Philippine government's revenues have increased by 10 percent in the first three quarters of 2012, the President said.

 "These initiatives, among many others, have given us the wherewithal to invest even more in our people through social safety nets, which is all the more vital in today’s world, given that the turmoil in the West was caused, in part, by growing inequality," he said.

 He also cited the expansion of the administration's Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program to cover 3.1 million Filipino households this year. Under the CCT program, the President explained, the beneficiary-families get cash stipends provided that their children are sent to school, and pregnant mothers and their children are receiving regular medical check-ups.

 President Aquino noted that his administration has also been able to expand the services available to those who subscribed to the national health insurance program.

 "Such programs work as a safety valve, making certain that tensions between the have and the have-nots do not boil over," he said. "They show our countrymen that growth is not won just by one sector. It is achieved as one nation," he stressed.

 According to the President, his government's "efficient and inclusive approach to governance" has redounded to a great number of economic gains and international distinctions, including the 6.1 percent GDP growth in the first semester of 2012, which is higher than the five to six percent forecast.

 He also cited the 2012 report of Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank, where the Philippines is projected to be the sixth fastest growing economy in the world for the period between 2010 and 2050.

 "Excellencies, by staying true to the spirit of honesty, transparency, and inclusiveness, the Philippines has not merely weathered the economic storm, we have navigated into calm waters. We have reclaimed the confidence of our people and of the international community," the President said.

 "However, in an interconnected world, we must resist the temptation to be inward-looking. If any of us are to make even more progress on the economic front, we need a dynamic global economy that continues to facilitate inter and intra-regional trade and investment flows," he added.

 The President also said that it would also be "highly beneficial" to both regions—Asia and Europe—if "our governments take it as their duty to make certain that whatever progress is made, is also felt equitably by every last one of their citizens." PND (co)

Aquino administration condemns attack against government troops that killed four unarmed soldiers in Paquibato, Davao City
 The Aquino administration condemned the attack perpetrated by armed men against government troops that resulted in the death of four unarmed soldiers in Paquibato District of Davao City on Sunday afternoon, a Palace official said.

 In a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government is extending aid and assistance to the families of the slain soldiers.

 "The requisite assistance will be provided by the military to their units. (It is) sufficient to say that the military will be taking care of the necessary assistance to the loved ones of the four soldiers who were killed in Davao," Valte said.

 "And, we have to stress, the soldiers were unarmed. They were not there for any mission. It was actually a peace and development seminar that they had attended. Again, to stress, the soldiers were unarmed. That makes it all the more condemnable—what had happened to them," Valte said.

 Authorities are conducting investigations to identify the perpetrators.

 "However, we will hold off on the speculations on the affiliation of the perpetrators. At this point, nobody has confirmation on whether the perpetrators are actually affiliated with a particular group. For all we know, they are not, hindi po muna tayo magko-komento doon," Valte said when asked to comment on whether the incident would affect the on-going peace talks between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA).

 The soldiers, wearing civilian attire, were onboard three motorcycles when they were attacked by 10 armed men in Barangay Mapula at 5 p.m. Sunday, Army and Police officials said.

 All four were members of the 60th Infantry Battalion's Peace and Development Team, a statement from the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said.

 The casualties were identified as Private First Class Ahian Vir Dolero, Pfc Marvin Lauronal, Pfc Noel Sigan, and Private Marcelo Himaya. PND (js)

Malacanang welcomes improvement of country’s inflation rate for the month of October
 Malacanang bared the continuous streak in the improvement of inflation rate in the country as a result of the Aquino government’s efforts to attain equitable and inclusive economic growth that provides a better standard of living for the Filipino people.

 In a regular press conference in Malacañang, Tuesday, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte announced the four-month low for the consumer price index which is attributed to the deceleration in the recorded yearly increases of food and beverage products.

 “We are pleased to announce that the headline inflation rate for October eased further to 3.1% from 3.6% in September and 3.8% in August this year. This marks a four-month low for the consumer price index and markedly lower compared to the inflation rate in the same month last year, which stood at 5.2%. The National Statistics Office (NSO) attributes the slowdown to “the deceleration in the annual increases recorded in the heavily-weighted food and non-alcoholic beverages index and recreation and culture index,” Valte said.

 This economic development has been recorded not only in the Metro Manila area but also in various regions of the country.

 “Annual inflation in the National Capital Region improved to 2.9% in October from 3.5% in September. Ten regions have also registered slower annual rates,” Valte said adding that with this development, the Philippines has recorded the lowest inflation rate within the Southeast Asian region.

 “Among Southeast Asian nations, which have reported their inflation rates thus far, the Philippines registered the lowest inflation for October compared to 7% in Vietnam, 4.61% in Indonesia, and 3.32% in Thailand,” Valte said.

 “October’s inflation rate is well within the range of 3-5% as set in the Philippine Development Plan for 2011-2016 and comes at the heels of upbeat consumer confidence and another all-time high in the Philippine Stock Exchange Index,” she stressed.

 Valte also assured the people that the government will maintain its efforts to achieve more significant growth anchored on good governance and reforms that has gained the exceptional trust and support of the Filipino people.

 “The Aquino administration has consistently pursued equitable and inclusive economic growth. Ensuring a manageable inflation rate is part of this effort. This is reflected in the third quarter Pulse Asia Ulat ng Bayan survey that indicated an 11-point improvement in the performance rating of the administration in controlling inflation,” Valte said.

 “We have always maintained that good governance results in good economics. The effects of our reforms have already manifested in the lives of our countrymen. This is reflected in the exceptional public trust, satisfaction, and support for the President and his administration,” she further noted. PND (jcl/1:40 p.m.)

President Aquino declares 2013 as 'National Year of Rice'
 President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared the year 2013 as the National Year of Rice to underscore the need for a sustained and nationwide campaign to attain rice self-sufficiency by 2013.

 The Chief Executive issued the declaration by virtue of Proclamation No. 494, series 2012 on October 18, 2012.

 The President, likewise, directed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to spearhead the celebration of the National Year of Rice towards achieving rice self-sufficiency and promoting public awareness to be responsible rice consumers.

 "Part of the strategy to attain rice self-sufficiency is intensified information campaign and social marketing to enjoin producers, consumers, and policy¬makers to help achieve the said goal," the President said.

 "A sustained and nationwide campaign to boost farmers’ morale and motivate them to adopt technologies to further improve farm productivity and encourage the general public to be responsible rice consumers are necessary to complement the government’s efforts to achieve rice self-sufficiency," he stressed.

 President Aquino also affirmed the month of November of every year as the National Rice Awareness Month pursuant to Proclamation No. 524 (s. 2004).

 According to the President, the DA may call upon other government agencies, non¬-governmental organizations, and the private sector for assistance in the celebration of the National Year of Rice.

 "The DA shall provide funds for the celebration of the National Year of Rice from its regular budget," he said. PND (js)

Aquino creates Office of the Cabinet Secretary through EO No.99
 President Benigno S. Aquino III issued last month an executive order renaming the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat to become the Office of Cabinet Secretary to effectively advance the administration’s programs and pro-poor efforts.

 The Chief Executive has named former Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras as the Cabinet Secretary. He took his oath of office last Sunday prior to the President’s departure to Laos.

 The President signed on October 31 Executive Order No.99 “Reconstituting the Office of the Cabinet Secretariat, Renaming it as the Office of the Cabinet Secretary, Defining its Powers and Functions, Providing for its Support Staff and for Other Purposes.”

 Under EO No.99, among the functions of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary include advancing the President’s social contract with the Filipino people, making recommendations on measurable performance and project roadmap, ensuring implementation of government performance and project roadmap, representing the President in meetings, providing timely information to the Cabinet on important issues, and performing other tasks based on the President’s instructions.

 The order also transfers the functions of the Inter-Agency Task Force created under Administrative Order No.25 to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary. Based on the new order, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) will serve as the technical resource institution to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

 In issuing EO No.99, the President amended EO 43 making the Office of the Cabinet Secretary a member of the Cabinet Clusters. The Cabinet Secretary will also be a member of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board Executive Committee and other NEDA committees. The Cabinet Secretary will have a cabinet rank and will report directly to the President, according to the new EO.

 For policy direction, relevant offices in the Presidential Management Staff (PMS), Performance and Projects Management Office, and other attached agencies, will now be supervised by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

 The Office of the Cabinet Secretary could seek the assistance from any government agency for the effective performance of its duties, according to the EO. For this purpose, all departments, agencies, bureaus, offices, including GOCCs shall designate a focal person to closely coordinate with the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

 The initial operations of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary will be funded by the President’s Contingent Fund. The fund for the succeeding years will be prepared in accordance with the regular government budget procedures.

 The EO No.99 takes effect immediately upon publication in a newspaper of general circulation. PND (as/4:33pm)

Asian and European leaders commit to refrain from threats or use of force against any state
 VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic (via PLDT) - President Benigno S. Aquino III and other Asian and European leaders renewed their commitment “to refrain from the act of threat or the use of force in any manner inconsistent with the UN Charter and international law against the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state.”

 This commitment was contained on the Vientiane Declaration issued on Tuesday by the leaders from Asian and European countries at the end of the two-day 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held here at the capital of Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

 In the joint declaration, ASEM leaders also committed to “seek peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue, negotiations and other means in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.”

 The renewed commitment issued by the ASEM leaders was consistent with President Aquino’s position that a rules-based approach is the most legitimate and most appropriate means in addressing the conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea.

 “From the very beginning, the Philippines has always advocated a rules-based approach as the most legitimate, most appropriate, and durable means to address conflicting maritime and territorial claims. This has not changed,” he said during the ASEM plenary session focusing on regional issues.

 “We remain firmly committed to the fair and peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea, in accordance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the President further said in his speech.

 Likewise, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy reaffirmed the European Union's full support to the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the West Philippine Sea during the ASEM plenary session on regional issues.

 President Van Rompuy also conveyed the same sentiment during the bilateral meeting between the European Union and the Philippines held on November 5 at the sidelines of the 9th ASEM Summit here. PND (co)

Italian Prime Minister commits to support peace process in Mindanao; invites Philippines to 'Expo 2015' in Milan
 VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic (via PLDT) - Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti congratulated President Benigno S. Aquino III on the signing of the historic Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

 President Aquino and Prime Minister Monti held a bilateral meeting on Tuesday at the sidelines of the 9th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).

 During their meeting, Prime Minister Monti also reiterated Italy’s commitment to fully support the peace process as demonstrated by the implementation of a development project on rural communities in Mindanao, which will commence early next year.

 Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also informed the Prime Minister that the Philippines is amenable to addressing Italy's concern on double taxation, thereby paving the way for the removal of the Philippines from Italy's fiscal blacklist and the signing of an agreement on amendments to the tax treaty between the two countries.

 Once it is signed, the treaty will be submitted to the Senate for ratification, according to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Hermino Coloma Jr., who was present during the bilateral meeting between the Philippines and Italy.

 During the meeting, the Prime Minister conveyed an invitation for the Philippines to participate in the Expo 2015 in Milan, saying the Philippine participation is a crucial move, considering that the country is a pioneer and leader in rice productivity improvement.

 President Aquino, in return, said that the invitation will be considered. With the theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” the 2015 Expo is expected to be participated by more than 100 countries.

 President Aquino also thanked the Italian premier for Italy's hospitality toward thousands of Filipino migrant workers and the more than 7,000 Filipinos from all over the world who attended the canonization of Saint Pedro Calungsod, the second Filipino saint. PND (co)

President Aquino reiterates importance of resolving territorial disputes peacefully and diplomatically
 VIENTIANE, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (via PLDT/Smart) – President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Tuesday that the West Philippine Sea issue is a priority concern not only for the Asian region and the other claimant countries, but for the entire international community.

 President Aquino made the declaration during the 2nd plenary session of the 9th Asia Europe meeting in Vientiane Lao PDR, prior to the formal closing ceremonies Tuesday afternoon.

 The President explained that 50,000 ships mostly from Europe pass through the West Philippine Sea each year so maritime security in the area is vital to world trade making it a global issue.

 The President said conflicting claims in the area between China, the Philippines and 3 other ASEAN countries should be resolved using a rules based approach in accordance to international Law, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas.

 Speaking before over 50 leaders attending the plenary session, President Aquino reiterated his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

 The President was earlier able to gain the support of The European Council, European Commission, Norway, Switzerland and Japan for the Philippines position on resolving the issue through peaceful means.

 The President clarified that the area referred to as the West Philippine Sea is only a portion of the South China Sea within the country's exclusive economic zone. PND (rck)

Asian and European leaders reaffirm commitment to true and lasting peace in 16-pointjoint declaration
 VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic (via PLDT) - President Benigno S. Aquino III and other leaders from Asian and European countries reaffirmed their commitment to ensure true and lasting peace, security and stability, and their aspiration to eradicate war from mankind.

 ASEM leaders concluded the 9th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) here by issuing a 16-point declaration. This year’s ASEM theme was “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity.”

 In the Vientiane Declaration on strengthening partnership for peace, they expressed determination to promote dialogue, enhance better relations and develop partnership in all fields to promote mutual understanding and friendly relations among ASEM partners.

 They also reaffirmed the ASEM leaders determination “to respect the right of ASEM peoples to freely choose their political system and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development in accordance with the UN charter and international law.”

 Moreover, they also expressed their common adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law, good governance, gender quality, promotion of social justice and human security, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the UN charter and international law.

 The declaration also noted that the ASEM partners renewed their commitment to “deepen and broaden ASEM interfaith dialogue, noting the importance of interfaith dialogue and its valuable contribution to promoting social cohesion, peace and development.”

 President Aquino returned to Manila on Tuesday afternoon via a chartered flight following his successful attendance to the two-day ASEM Summit here. PND (co)

Asian and European leaders agree to strengthen partnership in conclusion of 9th ASEM summit
 VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic (via PLDT)---President Benigno S. Aquino III and the other ASEM leaders expressed their strong will to strengthening the Asia-Europe partnership at the conclusion of the 9th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM).

 The leaders from Asia and European countries, including President Aquino, concluded their two-day ASEM summit here in Vientiane by adopting Vientiane Declaration issued on Tuesday afternoon.

 The ASEM9 Summit was held under the theme, “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity.”

 In the Vientiane Declaration on strengthening partnership for development, the ASEM leaders stressed their strong will to strengthen Asia-Europe partnership in development as an essential element of their economic and technical cooperation and assistance.

 They also committed to fighting against poverty and attaining the internationally agreed development goals, and achieving Millennium Development Goals target to ensure poverty eradication, equitable and sustainable development and inclusive growth.

 The ASEM partners also reaffirmed their commitment to achieve sustainable development, sustainable economic growth, social development and environment protection.

 They emphasized the importance of “enhancing cooperation in tackling climate change. They also confirmed their commitment to fully implement the outcomes of the Bali Action Plan, the Cancun agreements, and the Durban outcome.

 Likewise, the member-countries are determined to enhance social-cultural cooperation and development and promote greater people-to-people interaction through increasing cultural, educational, youth, sports, tourism and scholarly exchange.

 Furthermore, the ASEM leaders also supported “the full implementation of the Declaration in order to strengthen the comprehensive, equal and mutually beneficial Asia-Europe partnership for peace and development.” PND (co)