Monday, 2 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - MOnday, May 12, 2014

President Aquino supports proposal to harmonize legal frameworks among ASEAN countries

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III supports the proposal of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) to harmonize the legal frameworks among ASEAN-member states.

President Aquino, who is in Myanmar for the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, participated in the interface meeting with the representatives of AIPA on Sunday.

“In the face of changing circumstances in our region, we are called to greater cooperation, as we work even harder to ensure the well-being of our citizenry,” the President said in his intervention at the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

The President said AIPA provides a unique opportunity for ASEAN member states to address the emerging concerns of Southeast Asia, such as climate change, pandemics and transnational crime, or upholding the rule of law.

“AIPA serves as a meaningful venue to develop legislation that may contribute significantly to enhancing the capacities of our respective nations in this regard,” he said.

Thus, President Aquino expressed his support to the assembly’s proposal to harmonize the legal frameworks among ASEAN countries.

“Our ability, however, to craft domestic laws that are in line with the agreements and commitments of ASEAN must be done within the context of our respective constitutional systems and should consider the rights and responsibilities of the component branches of our governments,” he said.

President Aquino also emphasized the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers, of women and children, and of other vulnerable sectors in the respective societies.

“This should be of the highest priority, for an injustice done to one is an injustice done to all—whether it be from the country of origin or in the country where our migrants happen to be,” he said.

The President also noted that the deeper engagement and solidarity between AIPA and ASEAN is crucial in realizing the shared vision of a region that is more harmonious, inclsuive, and equitably progressive.

Founded in 1967, the ASEAN community includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (co)

Aquino encourages the youth to actively pursue an inclusive ASEAN community

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday encouraged the delegates of the ASEAN Youth to actively partner with their fellow youth leaders and the leaders of their respective countries in pursuing an inclusive ASEAN Community.

President Aquino issued the statement during his attendance to the 24th ASEAN Leaders’ meeting with representatives of the ASEAN Youth held at the Myanmar International Convention Center here in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s capital.

“In keeping with the agenda for the formation of an inclusive ASEAN Community, I encourage our youth representatives this afternoon to actively partner with your fellow youth leaders and the leaders in your respective countries,” the President said in his intervention during the ASEAN Youth Forum.

“Even as our various governments are working to leave you a better tomorrow, perhaps you can remain active among your spheres, promoting in your sector an appreciation for the need for individual integrity, responsibility, and solidarity with your countrymen and neighbors,” he added.

In his intervention, President Aquino highlighted some of the programs the Philippine government has initiated to empower the youth sector, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and the K to 12 Basic Education Program.

Under the CCT program, President Aquino said, the beneficiary-families get cash stipends provided that their children are sent to school and are receiving basic health care.

The government, President Aquino said, has also reformed the basic education system by expanding it to K to 12, which adds two more years to the existing 10-year basic education curriculum.

In addition, President Aquino said the government has addressed the backlog in the education sector to ensure “every Filipino student can go to school and expect to be placed in a sufficiently sized classroom, with all the materials they need to succeed.”

The President said the 66,800-classroom backlog has already been eliminated, as well as the backlogs in books and chairs.

“We have likewise improved the quality of higher education both by insisting on improved standards, which are the bases for greater budgetary support, and by empowering these institutions to maximize their own resources to generate income,” he said.

President Aquino said the government has improved the capacities and performance of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide Filipino youth a full array of vocational courses.

The President cited that from October 2012 to December last year, 91 percent of TESDA graduates in the field of semiconductors and electronics easily found employment.

“Indeed, just as this word—empowerment—applies to institutions, it also applies to the individual. A healthier, more educated youth is an increasingly empowered youth, able to discern for itself, and to maximize their potential, as well as the potential of the country,” he said.

“Our overarching goal is to leave no one behind. Our message to the people: Regardless of the track you wish to pursue, the state will be by your side. I believe this is the key to fully empower the youth: fostering a culture of cooperation and individual responsibility; of partnership and a continual search for improvements,” he added.

President Aquino said the youth could also make a difference in the region. “There are many things you can undertake right now that can help deepen the relationships between our countries, and between your respective governments and citizenries,” he said.

As techonology is rapidly changing and expanding, the President challenged the youth sectors to use information technology as a tool of empowerment.

“Information and communications technology is growing at a rapid pace—and we all know that the youth enjoy a natural affinity with these technologies. This is one of our era’s great challenges to the younger generation: to be able to harness the developments in technology to make a positive impact on the world around you,” he said.

“Increased avenues for knowledge and self-expression naturally come with increased accountability. We must be able to use these technologies responsibly and judiciously— careful of scattering wrong or misleading information that will have negative results,” he said.

Besides the meeting with the ASEAN Youth, President Aquino also attended Sunday the meetings with the representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, and the Civil Society Organizations. PND (co)

Aquino, other leaders adopt Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of ASEAN Community by 2015

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) The 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit concluded on Sunday with the adoption of the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on the Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

In the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, President Benigno S. Aquino III and his fellow leaders expressed their common adherence to the purposes and principles enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and in upholding the Charter of the United Nations.

Aside from welcoming the progress made in implementing the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community, the leaders also recognized the urgency of the successful establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

The ASEAN member-countries also commended the efforts of the ASEAN in formulating the ASEAN Community’s post-2015 vision.

The leaders committed to further strengthen efforts to enhance ASEAN integration and narrow the development gap by building on existing initiatives including the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

Moreover, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work closely with all partners through various ASEAN-led processes, such as ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, and ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus.

Furthermore, they stressed the importance of cooperation among ASEAN countries and the realization of an ASEAN Community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible.

The ASEAN Summit was held for the first time in Myanmar with the theme: "Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community," highlighting the importance of a united ASEAN. PND (co)

ASEAN leaders agree to strengthen cooperation for full implementation of Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged on Sunday to enhance cooperation for the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) at the end of the two-day summit.

The ASEAN leaders, including President Benigno S. Aquino III, concluded the 24th ASEAN Summit by adopting the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015 issued Sunday afternoon.

The leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation for the full and effective implementation of the DOC in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS.

They also called on all parties to “exercise self-restraint and non-use of force, as well as refrain from taking actions that would further escalate tension and to work towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as reflected in the ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the South China Sea.”

On Saturday, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers issued a statement expressing serious concern over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea, which have increased tensions in the area.

They urged all parties concerned to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes by peaceful means and without resorting to threats or use of force. They also called on all parties to undertake full and effective implementation of the DOC.

"Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community" was the theme of this year’s summit. Myanmar hosted the ASEAN Summit for the first time since it joined the bloc in 1997. PND (co)

Aquino, other leaders vow to enhance ASEAN unity and solidarity

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III and other leaders agreed to strengthen ASEAN unity and solidarity, as well as ASEAN’s central role in maintaining and promoting peace, stability, harmony, and prosperity in the region.

At the conclusion of the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Sunday, the leaders adopted the Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

This year’s summit was themed, “Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community."

Under the declaration, the leaders committed to further enhance ASEAN cooperation in promoting democracy, good governance and the rule of law, and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

ASEAN agreed to promote the sharing of norms, principles and values as enshrined in the ASEAN instruments including the ASEAN Charter and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea for peace, stability and development in the region.

Also, the leaders will explore the possibility for a regional framework based on the principles contained in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and in line with the Bali Principles on Mutually Beneficial Relations.

Moreover, the Southeast Asian leaders also pledged to further promote ASEAN’s efforts in peace and reconciliation in the region through mechanisms and entities associated with ASEAN.

The ASEAN also agreed to work closely with the Nuclear Weapon States on the early signing and ratification of the Protocol to the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone without reservations by Nuclear Weapon States.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations community includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (co)

President Aquino arrives from Myanmar

President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 early Monday from Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar after attending the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit over the weekend.

The President and members of the Philippine delegation arrived at about 1:05 a.m. Monday on board a Philippine Airlines flight.

There to welcome him were Speaker of the House Feliciano Belmonte, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, and Metro Manila Developmental Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino.

President Aquino gave an arrival speech, saying the trip was fruitful and the summit will strengthen growth in the region.

“Nabigyang-diin rin po ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaisa at hinahon sa pagharap sa mga isyung kaugnay ng seguridad, pangangalaga sa mga nasa laylayan ng lipunan, pagbabago ng klima, at teritoryo,” he said.

The President reported that the success of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was always mentioned during the summit.

“Isa po itong matingkad na patunay na gaano man katagal ang hidwaan, maaari itong matuldukan kung may pagtitiwala at kooperasyon sa pagitan ng bawat panig, at may kontekstong sumusuporta sa mapayapang diyalogo,” he said.

The Chief Executive also noted that all foreign ministers of the ASEAN member countries signed a joint statement expressing apprehension over what might happen as a result of the tension in the South China Sea.

He said the ministers called for respect and adherence to the principle of Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the disputed sea.

President Aquino also said he took the opportunity to “present to our ASEAN neighbors” the Philippine Memorial that was submitted to the arbitral tribunal of the United Nations regarding the Philippine claim over some islands in the West Philippine Sea, which is also claimed by China.

He further reported that the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) have concretized their inter-connectivity.

“Halimbawa po nito ang naitatag na direct flight sa pagitan ng Kota Kinabalu at Puerto Princesa, at ang nabuong memorandum of agreement sa pagitan ng mga pribadong kompanya sa pagtatatag ng Davao-GenSan-Tahuna-Bitung shipping service. Sa tulong po nito ay mapapadali at mapapabilis ang pamumuhunan, kalakalan at turismo sa ating sub-region. Ang resulta po ay mas masiglang ekonomiya para sa mga kasaping bansa at mas maraming oportunidad para sa mga mamamayan,” said the President. PND (ag)

President Aquino invites BIMP-EAGA members to join trade fair and business conference in Mindanao

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday invited Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia to send delegations to the trade fair and business conference in Mindanao this October.

President Aquino issued the invitation during the 10th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit on the sidelines of the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here.

The 2nd BIMP-EAGA and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Trade Fair and Business Leaders’ Conference is slated to be held on October 23 to 26, 2014 in Davao City.

The trade fair and conference will gather key business players from the two economic sub-regions with the objective of contributing to the goals of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community.

“I take this opportunity to urge member-countries to send their delegations to the 2nd BIMP-EAGA IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders Conference, and to help generate participation from other countries outside the sub-region,” President Aquino said in his remarks.

The President said the trade fair will showcase trade and industrial opportunities in the food, agri-based, fisheries, handicraft, and tourism sectors, particularly those involving small and medium enterprises.

“This conference is especially promising, as we foresee positive transformation in our island of Mindanao, now that the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro has been signed,” he added.

President Aquino also lauded the establishment of new air linkages with BIMP-EAGA partner countries.

“We emphasize the importance of sustaining these routes through the joint efforts of the air transport and tourism officials by means of incentives, policy support measures, and extensive marketing and promotions,” he said.

“We commend the efforts of the Chambers of Commerce of Davao, General Santos, and North Sulawesi for establishing shipping services within the sub-region. Now, work on making the Davao-GenSan-Tahuna-Bitung sea route operational is underway,” he added.

President Aquino, along with the Philippine delegation, returned to Manila early Monday following his successful participation in the 24th ASEAN Summit hosted by Myanmar from May 10 to 11. PND (co)

ASEAN vows to expedite roadmap for ASEAN community

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will expedite the implementation of the remaining action lines under the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community through concrete programs and activities.

This commitment was contained on the 28-point Nay Pyi Taw Declaration on Realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015, adopted by Southeast Asian leaders, including President Aquino, at the conclusion of the 24th ASEAN Summit.

Under the declaration, the leaders also agreed to intensify efforts in realizing the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and implement the initiatives to achieve the ASEAN Single Market and Production Base, including trade facilitative initiatives.

The ASEAN member states also pledged to accelerate efforts in enhancing regional connectivity through the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

They committed to strengthen its external economic integration to advance its collective interest in the region through the ongoing ASEAN Plus One Free Trade Agreements with partners, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The ASEAN will also promote the sense of belonging to the ASEAN Community through the formulation and implementation of the ASEAN Communication Master Plan, according to the adopted declaration.

Meanwhile, the leaders pledged to enhance efforts to empower women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups by encouraging their active participation in the ASEAN community-building process.

They also agreed to strengthen and empower the existing ASEAN mechanisms and mutli-sectoral actions to improve prevention, preparedness, response, relief, and recovery on disasters in a more coordinated manner.

The declaration further noted that the ASEAN members will "strengthen the environmental resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change of the ASEAN Community by effectively implementing the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative and the ASEAN Action Plan on Joint Response to Climate Change.”

Leaders of member countries of the ASEAN on Saturday gathered at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar’s capital, for the two-day summit. It was the first time for Myanmar to host the summit, since it joined the ASEAN 17 years ago.

Myanmar, as ASEAN chair, chose the theme “Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community" to highlight the importance of a united ASEAN. PND (co)

President Aquino confident EDCA will stand legal scrutiny

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed confidence that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) will withstand legal scrutiny in the Supreme Court.

In an interview with the Philippine media after he attended the 24th Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Summit here Sunday, President Aquino said the government panel had made sure that the provisions of the EDCA are in accordance with the Constitution.

"Consistently, when they were reporting to me, we kept on working on fine-tuning it to make sure that it adheres completely with the Constitution," the President said during the interview at the Horizon Lake View Resort before returning to Manila.

He said that while there are people who will derail the implementation of the agreement, he is still optimistic that it will pass the court's scrutiny.

"So will it stand scrutiny? Yes. Will there be people who will try to derail it? Yes, also. But we are reasonably confident that anybody looking at it objectively will be able to say that we have met all the stipulations in the Constitution," he said.

The EDCA was signed by Philippine and US government officials hours before US President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines last May 28 for a two-day state visit.

The agreement allows US troops greater access to designated Philippine military facilities, as well as construct facilities and pre-position aircraft, vessels and equipment.

In a recent press briefing in Malacanang, Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino said the EDCA is an implementing agreement of treaties already established between the US and the Philippines, such as the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement. PND (jb)

President Aquino unfazed by dismissal of graft case against Arroyo

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he is confident that former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be brought to justice despite the Ombudsman's dismissal of a graft case filed against her in connection with a P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

In an interview with the media here following his attendance of the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Sunday, President Aquino said the case filed against the Pampanga representative that was dismissed by the Ombudsman due to lack of evidence, was not filed by his administration.

"We discussed it in passing the other day. First question I asked was: 'Did we file this?’ And the answer was: ‘We didn't file it,’” President Aquino said during his interview held at the Horizon Lake View Resort.

The President said if the government gets the necessary evidence to make a stronger case, then the graft case can be filed again.

President Aquino stressed that his government has always believed in building strong cases that would lead to conviction.

"My promise to the Filipino people has always been: We will go where the evidence points us to. We will not file a frivolous case just to harass anybody,” he said.

"If you file a frivolous case, knowing that it's frivolous, hindi ba parang you are guaranteeing that the person gets off scot-free because double jeopardy comes in. So my instruction has always been: Do not file until you are sure that the evidence is strong,” he added.

President Aquino cited three cases filed by the Aquino administration against Mrs. Arroyo: a plunder case in connection with the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds, which is pending before the Sandiganbayan; another plunder case for Arroyo’s alleged involvement in the Malampaya fund scam, which is being reviewed by the Office of the Ombudsman; and the electoral sabotage case, which is pending before a Regional Trial Court in Pasay filed by the Commission on Elections law department. PND (jb)

President Aquino informs ASEAN member states of memorial filed against China

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III has informed leaders of member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that the Philippines has filed a Memorial at the United Nations arbitral tribunal against China’s claims over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

The Philippines on March 30 submitted its Memorial to the Arbitral Tribunal that is hearing the case it brought against the People’s Republic of China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in January 2013.

During the coffee meeting with the members of the Philippine media covering the 24th ASEAN Summit here Sunday, President Aquino said many of the ASEAN leaders have expressed concern over the ongoing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

The President said the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Nguyen Tan Dung, recounted their problems with China, which has stationed an oil rig in disputed waters off the coast of Vietnam.

President Aquino said he mentioned to his fellow ASEAN leaders the Philippines’ own incidents with China during the 24th ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat Session.

“I put in, during the Retreat, our own incidents with regards to Ayungin, Scarborough, the Kalayaan Island group, the construction on Mabini Reef and the Galoc oil contract—service contract area,” the President said.
“Then we did mention that consistent with everybody’s desire to resolve it in a peaceful manner, we did inform them officially of the March filing of the memorial before the arbitration tribunal under International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,” he added.

On Saturday, the ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement expressing “serious concern over the ongoing developments in the South China Sea,” and urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and to resolve disputes by peaceful means.

They also called on all parties to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to undertake full and effective implementation of the DOC to create an environment of mutual trust and confidence. PND (co)

Government working to reduce number of poor Filipinos: Palace

Malacanang said the government is working to reduce the number of poor people in the country, which a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey estimated at 17.8 percent or 3.9 million families.

“Lahat ng ahensya ng pamahalaan na mayroong kinalaman sa poverty reduction and social protection ay kumikilos para maibsan ang paghihirap ng ating mga mamamayan,” Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during Monday’s press briefing.

“Pag tinunghayan natin ang 2014 National Budget, ang pinakamalaking bahagi nito—more than 37 percent—is allotted to poverty reduction and social protection. Kaya tinitiyak ko sa inyo na hindi nagpapabaya ang pamahalaan at ginagawang puspusan ang pagsisikap na maibsan ang kahirapan at kagutuman ng ating mga mamamayan.”

Coloma noted that figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, National Statistics Office, and National Economic Development Authority show that the incidence of poverty in the country has decreased to 24.9 percent in 2013 from 27.9 percent previously.
He further said that even the SWS surveys show a decline in poverty.
An SWS survey done in December 2013, showed that 18.1 percent of respondents were suffering from hunger. The figure decreased to 17.8 percent, or 3.9 million Filipino families, in the recent survey, which was conducted last March 27 to 30.

“Bagamat hindi eksaktong ganoon ang kanilang mga datos dahil sa magkakaibang metodolohiya na ginagamit ng SWS at ng NSO/PSA. Kaya ang direksyon ng lahat ng ito ay patungo doon sa pagbabawas ng kahirapan at ‘yung pagbibigay ng sapat na pagkain at kakayahan sa ating mga pamilya na mapaaral ang kanilang mga anak, at dahil sa pag-aaral ng kanilang anak ay makatatamo sila ng isang mas maaliwalas na kinabukasan,” Coloma continued. PND (ag)