Wednesday, 23 January 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, January 21, 2013

Aquino wants ‘proactive’ coordination between Philippine and US navies and concerned agencies in salvaging USS Guardian

President Benigno S. Aquino III wants a concerted and “proactive” effort between the Philippine Navy and concerned government agencies with its counterparts in the United States in salvaging and extracting the USS Guardian, a U.S. Navy Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, that ran aground in the Tubbataha Reef in the Sulu sea last Thursday (January 17), Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio "Jun" Aguinaldo Abaya said on Monday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Abaya said the President instructed the Task Force to look into the cause of the ship’s grounding to ensure that no more “additional damage” happens to the reef considered as a national treasure.

The Task Force, Abaya said, is composed of representatives from the Coast Guard, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command and the DOTC.

“The President is mindful of that national treasure that we have – the very asset of the Tubbataha Reef and he wanted to make sure that we be proactive in this: that we minimize damage, that we have close coordination with the Americans, that we should not just allow them to conduct their salvage operations on their own,” Abaya said.

He added that DOTC undersecretary Eduardo Oban, Jr. and Philippine Navy Admiral Jose Luis Alano will soon be meeting with Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of the Logistics Group Western Pacific to discuss salvaging and extracting operations for the USS Guardian.

He said among the steps to be taken to remove the vessel and protect the reef from further damage include, assessing, de-fueling, re-floating and installing oil-spill booms around the area to prevent oil and fuel from spreading. PND (rck)

President Aquino receives Coca-Cola FEMSA executives in Malacañang Monday

President Benigno S. Aquino III received Coca-Cola Fomento Económico Mexicano (FEMSA) chief executive officer (CEO) Carlos Salazar Lomelin in Malacanang Palace on Monday.

The Coca-Cola FEMSA chief executive officer was accompanied by Juan Ramon Felix, Coca-Cola FEMSA Director for Asia Division and Juan Carlos Dominguez, Coca-Cola FEMSA Director of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs for Asia Division.

Also in attendance was Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo.

The visit was an opportunity for Coca-Cola FEMSA to exemplify its firm belief and confidence in the Philippine government and economy and to demonstrate its commitment to strengthen and enhance the legacy of its brands in the Philippines.

“We are very honored to meet President Aquino and we look forward to a successful relationship with the Philippine government, as we explore additional growth and investment opportunities in our home in Asia.” the Coca-Cola FEMSA official said.

“We’re happy to have this unique opportunity to operate in a country with healthy growth prospects, dynamic internal consumption and an attractive socio-economic and demographic profile,” he added.

Last December 13, 2012, Coca-Cola FEMSA signed a definitive agreement with the Coca-Cola Company to acquire 51% of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Incorporated. This is Coca-Cola FEMSA’s first acquisition beyond Latin America and is seen as a vote of confidence in the strength of the Philippine economy, and the opportunities it provides.

Coca-Cola has been present in the Philippines since the start of the 20th century and has been locally produced since 1912. The Philippines received the first Coca-Cola bottling and distribution franchise in Asia. PND (js)

President Aquino to entice Swiss businessmen to explore business opportunities in the Philippines, Ambassador Baja says

ZURICH, Switzerland) President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to entice top business leaders and other stakeholders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland to explore business opportunities in the Philippines because the country is back in business, has strong economic fundamentals, and "ready to do business with any country in the world."

Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja echoed this statement during an interview at the Philippine Embassy here as he underscored the importance of the President's attendance to the WEF's annual meeting.

The WEF is the foremost global community of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society who are committed to improving the state of the world. It is an independent, not-for-profit organization that brings together these leaders together to work on projects that improve the lives of the people.

"Well, I think the biggest impact would be the message that we'll be able to give to the audience in Davos (is that) the Philippines ended 2012 with very good credentials as far as the economic performance of the country is concerned, as far as our campaign on good governance is concerned. So, this is basically the message, as I think, the President will be able to present to the attendees in Davos," Baja said.

According to Baja, other countries have focused their attention to the Philippines because of the good governance of the President.

"We have always said that good governance and transparency will be the main pillar as far as socioeconomic development of the country is concerned, Baja said adding that because of the President's strong policy in favor of good governance we are able to push forward the economic agenda of the country."

"There are over 1,600 CEOs (chief executive officers) who will be attending the Davos World Economic Forum and I think the message will certainly be that the Philippines is back in business, that the Philippines has very strong economic fundamentals, that basically we're ready to do business with any country in the world," he added.

Baja stressed that it would also be a great opportunity for President Aquino to brief the CEOs on the country's strong economic fundamentals in the last two and a half years.

"Most of the CEOs, at least some of those that I saw on the list, are already present in the Philippines. So, the CEOs or some of the companies that they represent are planning expansion of their presence in the Philippines. So, the message, I think would be that the government is there to help them expand," he said.

"We're expanding the economic space also by the good governance policy of the President and as I said, we're open for business and this is basically the message that we will put forward to the roundtable with the CEOs," Baja added.

Baja said that during the event, the President will also be able to promote his administration's public private partnership program or the PPP which, he said, is one of the government's major projects.

"I think this will have a good resonance since the PPP program now is picking up back home, we have approved several projects also last year. And the President will be given a special privilege to address this session on PPP and infrastructure. So, he'll be able to give the Philippine experience to the attendees in the World Economic Forum of how the Philippines is using the PPP in order to improve the infrastructure development in the country," he noted. PND (rda)

Filipino community in Switzerland ready to welcome President Aquino, says Ambassador Baja

ZURICH, Switzerland) Members of the Filipino community here are proud and all set to personally welcome President Benigno S. Aquino III when he meets with them following his attendance to the annual meeting of the World Economic Foum (WEF).

The President's visit to Switzerland is his first since he assumed office in June 2010. He is scheduled to meet with the Filipino community at the Renaissance Hotel before he leaves for Manila on Saturday (January 26).

In an interview, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja said the overseas Filipino workers here look forward to meeting the President.

"The Filipino community, I think, we're all very proud that the President is coming to Switzerland, " he emphasized.

"Sabi nila sa akin, this is the first time daw that the Philippine President, (who is) visiting Switzerland in so many years, ay makikipagtagpo sa mga miyembro ng Filipino community," Baja said.

"Maraming-maraming Filipino na po ang gustong mag-attend ng Filipino community meeting and they really look forward to being able to hear and see the President first hand and personally. So, maganda po ang reception at ng pagtanggap ng balita na makikipagtagpo ang ating Pangulo sa Filipino community dito sa Switzerland," Baja stressed.

Baja also explained that President Aquino's meeting with the Filipino community would be a good opportunity for him to oversee their condition and to brief them on the positive developments in the Philippines under his watch for the last two and a half years.

He noted that there are about more or less 10,000 Filipinos and Swiss-Filipinos in Switzerland holding dual citizenships.

"The main wave of Filipinos who came to Switzerland was in the 70s when Filupino nurses were still able to come in, " Baja said adding that at present majority of the Filipinos working in Switzerland are nurses, some are working in Swiss multinationals, some are in Geneva serving as international civil servants and working for various international organizations among others.

Expected to join the President during his meeting with the Filipino community are Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Ambassador Baja, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang, and Ambassador Baja among others.

According to a fact sheet, as of June 2012, there were already some 10,940 Filipinos in Switzerland broken down as follows -- 6,061 permanent migrants, 1,201 children/dependents, and 3,678 workers.

By profession or occupation, 39 percent of these Filipino workers are semi-skilled (secuirty officers, hospital staff,sales, hotel workers, drivers); 37 percent are household or service staff such as housekeeper, cook and gardeners; and 13 percent are professionals working as executives, managers, accountants, nurses and in IT companies; and 11 percent serve as employees of the United Nations.

In general, Filipino workers in Switzerland enjoy satisfactory working conditions. They are among the highest paid workers in Europe.

There are also 50 Filipino-Swiss organizations in various parts of Switzerland with five resource centers located in Berne, Zurich, Chur, Basel, and Zug aside from 15 other business entities. PND (rda)

Aquino’s trip to Davos, Switzerland an opportunity to re-showcase Philippines as top investment site

President Benigno S. Aquino III’s upcoming trip to Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting from January 23 to 26 will also provide the Chief Executive an opportunity to “re-showcase” the Philippines as a revitalized and re-emerging site for investments,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Monday.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Lacierda said that that the “180-degree change in governance” that the President was able to achieve by implementing government reforms has greatly improved the image of the Philippines from being the “Sick Man of Asia” to becoming a “haven for business opportunities.”

“So the primary purpose of the Davos visit is to re-showcase the Philippines—what the Philippines has been doing; what President Aquino has been doing insofar as reforms that are being undertaken and why the Philippine economy has gone to where it is right now,” Lacierda said.

“There’s so much that the Philippines can offer to the international community. The strength of our economy is one proof that good governance is working. The root of our progress right now is that the international community has seen a 180-degree change in governance,” he added.

He expressed confidence that the President will able to entice potential investors to take a look at the Philippines as their new investment locale as “the international community is seeing the business (in the Philippines) as a level field and they’re interested to invest in the Philippines.”

“Look, the Philippines is under new management so if the CEOs are convinced—and I’m sure they will be convinced that the Philippines is under new management—they will order their business units to invest in the Philippines or to look in, to explore economic opportunities in the Philippines,” Lacierda said.

“(The WEF in) Davos is primarily a meeting of CEOs where ideas are shared and so it’s where the CEOs will be briefed personally by the President of what the Philippines is doing and it’s up to the CEOs to see and to believe that the Philippines is indeed a haven for business opportunities,” he added. PND (rck)