Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, March 27, 2014

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark pays courtesy call on President Aquino

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday in Malacanan Palace.

Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister, is in the country to strengthen UNDP’s partnership and cooperation with the Philippine government, as well as to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

During a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino and UNDP Administrator Clark would discuss issues of mutual interests, such as the UN’s participation on the rehabilitation of areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda.

“Si Helen Clark po ang tagapangulo o pinuno ng United Nations Development Programme at malaki po ang itinutulong sa atin ng United Nations through its various agencies, kasama na po ‘yung UNDP at ang Commission on Humanitarian Assistance na noon pang dumating ang super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ay nandito na sa ating bansa, kaya ipagpapatuloy po ang pakikipag-ugnayan ng ating bansa sa United Nations,” Coloma said.

“Inaasahan po natin na tatalakayin ng Pangulong Aquino at ni Chairperson Helen Clark ‘yung mga paksa na mayroong mutual interest ang ating bansa at ang United Nations, kung paano pa mapapalakas ‘yung partisipasyon ng United Nations sa pagbabagong tatag ng mga Yolanda-affected areas, at ‘yun ding kabuuan ng ating development plan dahil ito ay UNDP,” the secretary added.

Secretary Coloma said the President and the UNDP’s administrator might also discuss the progress in the Philippine Development Plan, the government’s development framework that seeks to address poverty, create employment opportunities and achieve inclusive growth.

“Siguro pwede na ring matalakay diyan ‘yung mga updates doon sa ating Philippine Development Plan dahil big picture ang concern nitong UNDP, ‘yung mas malaking larawan ng pangmatagalang kaunlaran ng buong bansang Pilipinas,” he said.

On Wednesday, UNDP Administrator Clark visited typhoon-hit Tacloban to see the ongoing recovery efforts there. PND (co)


Palace challenges ex-NBI deputies to go to court

Malaca├▒ang challenged the two dismissed National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file a case against those they think had ties with pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim-Napoles instead of diverting the issue.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. is referring to dismissed NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda, who he said must have concrete evidences rather than speculations.

“Siguro po mas mainam kung meron talaga silang kongkretong pinanghahawakan sa halip na magsalaysay ng maraming kuwento. Maghain na lamang sila ng kaso kung meron talaga silang pinanghahawakan,” said Coloma in a press briefing.

Coloma said that the two dismissed NBI deputy directors are just redirecting the issue.

“Hindi dapat malihis and ating atensyon dulot ng mga haka-haka at espekulasyon,” the Palace Official said.

Recently, Lasala presented a closed-circuit television footage showing that Napoles visited NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas in his office last year. PND (ag)


Malaysian Prime Minister pays courtesy call to President Aquino prior to signing of Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro

President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak who called on the President prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday in Malacanang.

The Prime Minister arrived in Malacanang at around 3:50 p.m. and was accorded foyer honors before proceeding to the reception hall to sign the guest book.

He then was ushered to the Music Room on Malacanang to meet with President Aquino.

After the meeting which lasted some 30 minutes, the President and the Prime Minister then proceeded to the Kalayaan grounds to witness the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro that is seen to bring peace and prosperity to Mindanao. PND (rck)


Malaysian PM Najib thanks Philippines for support in the continuing search for missing flight MH370

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday thanked the Philippines for its assistance in the ongoing search efforts for the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 carrying 239 people.

Prime Minister Najib was invited by President Benigno S. Aquino III to witness the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro held at the Malacanan Palace grounds.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2001.

Prime Minister Najib said Malaysia is grateful for the support of its neighboring countries, including the Philippines, in the search for the missing Flight MH370.

“Our belief in cooperation across borders has been strengthened by tragedy,” the Malaysian premier said in his speech during the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday.

“The loss of 239 people on board Flight MH370 has been devastating. Malaysia is grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors, including the Philippines, in the continuing search effort. At this difficult time, we draw strength from the compassionate response of our fellow nations,” he added.

The Prime Minister has earlier confirmed that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” Flight MH370, bound for Beijing, disappeared on March 8. PND (co)


Aquino leads signing of peace pact with MILF, says he will aggressively push basic law

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Thursday the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) aimed at ending decades-long conflict that claimed the lives of hundreds of people in Muslim Mindanao.

The President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak witnessed the signing of agreement at the Kalayaan grounds in Malacanang, Thursday.

In his message prior to the signing, the President said he will aggressively push for a just and equitable Bangsamoro Basic Law after the signing of the said agreement.

“My administration will go all out to forge a principled consensus for enduring security and prosperity; I expect the deliberations in Congress to be characterized by a sincere desire to improve on the Bangsamoro Basic Law—and not by self-interest that only aims to perpetuate an untenable status quo,” the President said in his speech.

The President said that currently, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission is working hard to draft an equitable, practical, and empowering, Bangsamoro Basic Law that will serve the interests of the entire nation.

Their current mission is to draft and pass this law so that it will be presented to the people for ratification in a plebiscite, he said. The goal is to have the Bangsamoro Transition Authority in place by 2015 to serve as the interim Bangsamoro government until the elections in 2016.

At the same time, the President called on everyone to widen the avenues for trust and positive engagement and cast aside past prejudices and contribute to the atmosphere of optimism to sustain the momentum for the development of Mindanao.

It should be the paramount concern of all people of goodwill to do their part, replacing cynicism with hope, and sorrow with harmony, peace, and prosperity, the chief executive said.

The country must solve the huge imbalance between Muslim Mindanao and the rest of the country to start regional development.

“If we are to truly address the root causes of conflict, we must close the gap between the region and the rest of Filipino society,” the President said.

Among the signatories to the agreement were government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal and Malaysian facilitator Tengku Ghafar. PND (as)


Aquino expresses sympathy with Malaysian counterpart owing to airline tragedy

President Benigno S. Aquino III personally empathized with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak whose government is currently in the middle of providing closure to the tragedy caused by the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

Prime Minister Razak was in Malaca├▒ang Thursday to grace the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

“Your Excellency, the Filipino people and I are filled with sincere appreciation for your presence here today and that of your wife Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor—especially since we know full well that you and your government have the heavy responsibility of attending to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370,” President Aquino said during a merienda cena hosted in honor of his Malaysian counterpart and other dignitaries after the historic event.

“Such a tragedy understandably led to an outpouring of emotion—of uncertainty, anxiety, and anger—and you, as head of government, were thrust into a position where you were asked to immediately answer questions to which the full answers were not available. I empathize with you fully.”

The Philippines was among the many countries that immediately came to Malaysia’s rescue by offering its military assets after the mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370. President Aquino reiterated this gesture.

“The sadness of this event weighs heavily on all people of goodwill around the world, and in this spirit, the Filipino people and myself reiterate our offer of any and all forms of assistance that we can possibly render,” he said, adding that “it is especially during the most challenging times when brother nations should stand in support for one another.”

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur, carrying 239 passengers and crew, and was supposed to land in Beijing when it vanished in midflight on March 8. After weeks of intense search, Prime Minister Razak confirmed in a recent statement that “ended in the southern Indian Ocean.” Its wreckage, however, is yet to be recovered by authorities. PND (hdc)


Government determined to protect gains of Mindanao peace process, says President Aquino

President Benigno S. Aquino III vowed to protect the gains of the Mindanao peace agreement and warned those planning to derail peace in the region that they will suffer the consequences of their actions.

“May this also stand as a warning to those who wish to derail our path to a final, lasting peace—to those who wish to sow divisiveness for self-interest, and to those who continue to wield arms to pursue their own agendas: So many people have suffered for so long; so many of our stakeholders have worked so hard to arrive at this point,” the President said during his message prior to the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang on Thursday.

“I will not let peace be snatched from my people again. Not now, when we have already undertaken the most difficult and most significant steps to achieve it. Those who want to test the resolve of the state will be met with a firm response based on righteousness and justice—as we demonstrated in Zamboanga City,” he added.

The Aquino administration foiled an attack by the members of the Moro National Liberation Front faction by sending a huge number of military personnel in Zamboanga last year.

Changing the status quo is daunting, he said, noting that he is determined to spearhead a long-term transformation of Mindanao rather than carrying out stop-gap solutions.

The President also thanked those who worked for the successful conclusion of the peace pact signing such as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia, the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and Peace adviser Teresita Deles.

The President also thanked the members of the International Monitoring Team—Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, the European Union and Libya, for creating a peaceful environment conducive to the negotiations.

He also thanked the International Contact Group reiterating the country’s gratitude to Japan, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the NGO-members of the ICG.

He expressed his gratitude to the members of the Independent Commission on Policing such as Canada, Australia, and Japan. The role played by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was also of great help, he said.

The President also mentioned the assistance of the United States through USAID; Japan through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD); Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the European Union through their contributions to the Mindanao Trust Fund; Australia and New Zealand for the Facility for Advisory Support for Transition Capacities (FASTRAC).

“We also thank the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and again the European Union for the assistance that you have extended to us,” he said.
“You all have the enduring gratitude of the Filipino people. We will never forget the support you have given, and continue to give us,” the President added. PND (as)


President Aquino hopes to go on a vacation with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Mindanao

Hoping that Mindanao would finally achieve true and lasting peace, President Benigno Aquino III expressed his willingness to take a vacation with Prime Minister Najib Razak in Mindanao.

In his speech during the historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang Thursday, President Aquino said he would imagine himself enjoying a beautiful sunset with Prime Minister Razak and other officials who played a major role in sealing a peace pact with the biggest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines.

“If our goals as a nation are fulfilled, my brothers, Al Haj Murad, Mohagher Iqbal, and myself can all look forward to that one day in the not-so-distant future, when we will all sit back and enjoy a quiet sunset in Mindanao—perhaps with the company of friends such as Prime Minister Najib Razak,” the President said.

“That day, we will look back to the 27th of March 2014, and allow ourselves a little pride. For now, more work needs to be done, and I look forward to building a peaceful, prosperous, and inclusive Bangsamoro with all of you,” he added.

During a merienda cena hosted by the President in honor of the visiting Prime Minister, His Excellency Najib Razak responded to the President’s statement saying: “I was very touched in your speech when you said you hope that one day we can be in that part of the world, watching the sunset, having a dream together.”

“And I will allow you to do other things as well. And provided you will allow me to do what I want to do as well,” he further quipped eliciting laughter from the attendees of the ceremonial toast.

“But above all, we will sit down as brothers. And together with, of course, Mr. Murad Ibrahim and all the others who played a part in this peace process. So our tribute to all of you and may that one day come into being,” Razak ended.

Prime Minister Razak took a short visit to the Philippines to witness the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Malaysia is the third party facilitator in the peace talks and also the head of the International Monitoring Team. PND (jb)


Mindanao peace agreement could serve as model to others, says Prime Minister Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said the recently signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) could serve as a model to others wanting to end conflict through peaceful dialogue.

In his message during a toast in Malacanang after the signing of the CAB, Prime Minister Najib said the beautiful Palace setting for the signing is fitting that 40 years of conflict has now come to an end and begins a new era that ushers progress and justice in the Bangsamoro.

“And what you have aspired for, which you could not get through violence, through conflict, you will get through peace and by working together,” Prime Minister Najib said.

“And this is a very significant signal to others as well in other parts of the world. We see so much conflict on a daily basis like there is no end to it and people want to win everything, they want to take all. They do not want to compromise. They do not want to seek solutions.”

The Philippine government and MILF have shown others the way that peace can be achieved by sitting together and extending hands of friendship and by developing trust and confidence.

But developing trust and confidence cannot be done overnight, he said, noting that parties must have patience to build them block by block.

The Malaysian leader also said that his country is glad that it became part of the journey of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) after it played an instrumental role in bridging the gap between both sides.

Prime Minister Najib also praised President Aquino for his personal leadership that eventually led to the signing of the final peace pact. PND (as)


President Aquino thanks Malaysian PM for continued support to peace efforts in Mindanao

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday thanked Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s continued support to the peace initiatives between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Your Excellency, it is especially during the most challenging times when brother nations should stand in support for one another. The Philippines saw this especially in the way that Malaysia, under your leadership, has supported our aspiration to build a just and lasting peace,” the President said in his message during the merienda cena he hosted for the Malaysian Prime Minister.

With the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro on Thursday, President Aquino said, peace is indeed within reach.

President Aquino invited Prime Minister Najib to attend the signing ceremony of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. The Prime Minister flew to Manila despite attending to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

Malaysia has been the facilitator of peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2001, and has hosted the talks in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia also leads the International Monitoring Team in Mindanao.

“This evening, we are gathered in shared achievement and optimism. I believe I speak not only for my government, but for all Filipinos in recognizing the tremendous personal initiative, risk, and leadership displayed by Your Excellency, which helped us to secure an inclusive and peaceful future for our countrymen in the Bangsamoro,” the President said.

“I myself wish to extend my personal gratitude to you, as it has always been clear that you view Filipinos not as adversaries, but as brothers—as partners to whom you have readily offered assistance. There is no doubt in my mind that ours is a genuine brotherhood—one made more meaningful by our shared commitment to advance peace in the Bangsamoro, a peace that opens up the possibility for fostering greater stability, security, and prosperity for our respective peoples, and in particular for my countrymen in the Bangsamoro,” he added.

President Aquino thanked Prime Minister Najib for his presence at the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, saying the Philippines will never forget Malaysia’s contributions to peace efforts in Mindanao.

“Your Excellency’s presence here marks the culmination of a significant chapter in the peace process, and consequently, in our national narrative. In the Philippines, we have a concept called ‘utang na loob,’ which translates to ‘debt of gratitude,’” the President said.

“Rest assured: as we move towards the realization of our aspirations for Mindanao, we will never forget the significance of your contributions. With this comes our pledge to build on this success—one that is truly shared by Filipinos and all other peoples of goodwill across the world—and our promise to continue standing by the Malaysian people and strengthen the ties that bind our nations,” he added. PND (co)