Monday, 2 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, May 10, 2014

Renewed trust and confidence in the Philippines reflects on Filipinos abroad

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) The renewed trust and confidence of the foreign investors in the Philippine economy also reflects on Filipinos working and living abroad.

Esperanza Ordoño-Saw, marketing manager for Global Sky Company Limited in Myanmar, said more foreign entrepreneurs are now willing to look into possible investment opportunities in the Philippines due to the renewed confidence.

Ordoño-Saw said the renewed trust and confidence of the foreign investors in the Philippines has a positive effect on them because “it gives a better impression" of Filipinos abroad.

Since his assumption to office in June 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III has instituted key reforms and measures to achieve inclusive growth and to make the Philippines more competitive.

“Kasi how your country is doing reflects on a Filipino who's working outside of the country; kahit pa malayo kami, it reflects on us,” Ordoño-Saw said during an interview with PBS-RTVM here.

Another Filipino, Roberto Pulido, who is a creative and business director for River Orchid here, noted the Aquino administration’s focus on its campaign against corruption.

“‘Ang malaking pagbabago na nakita ko, mas may focus ngayon na ayusin at linisin ang government,” Pulido, who has been in Myanmar for five years, said in a separate interview with PBS-RTVM.

Joey Borja, principal at Myanmar International School, agreed and cited some of the positive changes in the Philippines, such as the renewed confidence of foreign investors in the country and the administration’s anti-corruption campaign.

According to Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar Alex Chua, there are around 590 Filipinos registered with the Embassy as of December last year.

“Most Filipinos in Myanmar are engaged in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, comprising 45 percent of the total number of Filipinos with temporary migrant status in Myanmar,” Chua said.

President Aquino is scheduled to visit Myanmar on Saturday to attend the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit that will be held at Myanmar International Convention Center in Nay Pyi Taw on May 10 to 11. PND (co)

Gov’t allots P6.8-M for President Aquino’s attendance in ASEAN Summit in Myanmar

The government has set aside P6.8 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s participation in the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from May 10 to 11, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Saturday.

President Aquino left this afternoon for Nay Pyi Taw via a chartered flight to attend the two-day meeting of ASEAN leaders where the Chief Executive is expected to push for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC) with China in order to ease the tension in the disputed waters in the region.

He was accompanied by a 56-member delegation, including House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Andrea Abad, Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino and Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo left ahead of the presidential team.

Funding for the trip covers expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other requirements of President Aquino and his official delegation.

“President Aquino is expected to discuss quite a few issues of parallel interest with his fellow ASEAN leaders and stress on our decisive stance for the peaceful resolution in the disputed waters in the region,” Ochoa said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the President will attend a dinner to be hosted by Myanmar President U Thein Sein for the heads of states and governments, ASEAN plenary session and retreat, interface meetings with representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, civil society organizations and ASEAN Youth, among others.

Palace spells out major thrusts to attain continuing, inclusive growth

The government carries out three major thrusts to address the weaknesses in the economy as it envisions continuing and inclusive growth, a Palace official said on Friday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, reporters asked Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr about the government's measures to address several areas raised by Standard & Poor's in its assessment of the Philippines and its recent rating upgrade.

Among the issues mentioned by S&P include narrowing the revenue base, shortage of basic infrastructure, government services, and low-income level.

Coloma mentioned three primary government measures to address those issues.

He said that to narrow the country's revenue base, the government through the Bureau of Internal Revenue, works to increase the taxation-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to1990s levels.

Coloma said that during the Ramos administration, before the onset of the Asian financial crisis, the country's taxation-to-GDP ratio was at 16 to 17 percent of the GDP. Currently, he said the Philippines is at 12 to 13 percent of the GDP.

"Ang target natin doon sa Millennium Development Goals ay pataasin ito. Sa Millennium Development Goals at saka doon sa Philippine Development Plan pataasin ito doon sa... na maibalik doon sa halos kasingtaas ‘nung sa Ramos administration," he explained.

In area of infrastructure development, Coloma said the government acknowledged the need for more infrastructure it has been carrying out several measures to address this need.

The Palace official noted that in the last three years of the Aquino administration, it carried out accelerated spending on public infrastructure.

"At kapag nagbunga nang ganap ang mga nasa pipeline ng Public Private Partnership—‘yung iba’t ibang mga MRT, highway, at infrastructure projects—ay tiyak na madadagdagan ‘yung mga mahahalagang public infrastructure projects," he said.

In terms of reducing poverty in the country, he said that the administration did not wait for the recent economic gains to trickle down to the poor.

This is the reason why the administration implemented the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. The government even increased the number of family beneficiaries this year, he noted.

"Kaya lahat ng mga tatlong bagay na ito ay desididong ina-address ng ating administrasyon para ma-convert natin mula sa kahinaan at maging malakas na aspect rin ng ating pag-unlad bilang isang bansa," he said.

Coloma also said he is glad about S&P's assessment that noted a strong basis to believe the current economic gains under the present administration would be sustained event after President Aquino leaves office in 2016.

"Bilang isang mamamayang Pilipino, ako ay nagagalak doon sa isinasaad sa Standard and Poor’s credit ratings report, na sa kanilang pakiwari mayroong basis o mayroong batayan para umasa na ang mga kasalukuyang reporma at ang kasalukuyang magandang performance ng Philippine economy ay masu-sustain beyond the term of the Aquino administration," he said.

"Sa aking palagay ito ang mas mahalagang aspeto ng Standard and Poor’s investment upgrade report." PND (as)

President Aquino leaves Saturday 24th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar

President Benigno S. Aquino III left for Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar Saturday afternoon to join his fellow leaders in the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in that country.

Among the issues to be discussed in the ASEAN meeting are regional security, climate change, and anti-poverty initiatives, the President said in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II.

"Malinaw naman po sa atin: Mas mapapabilis ang pagresolba sa mga suliraning kinakaharap ng ASEAN kung may maigting na kooperasyon ang mga kasaping bansa," he said.

He said this is the basic principle of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) signed by the Philippines and its fellow ASEAN countries.

Through the agreement, the President said communities devastated by typhoon Yolanda received assistance from the country's neighbors.

He said he will personally thank fellow leaders in the ASEAN for the assistance extended to the Philippines in the aftermath of the disaster.

The President also said he will mention the Philippine Memorial in the Arbitral Tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea submitted by the Philippines last March.

"Ang nais po nating ihayag: itaguyod at sundin ang rule of law sa pagresolba sa mga usapin sa teritoryo, upang mangibabaw ang pagkilala at respeto sa karapatan ng bawat bansa," he said.

"Sumasalamin ang hakbang na ito sa ating paninindigan: Hindi maaaring madaan sa diyalogo ng dadalawang bansa lamang ang mga usaping nakaka-apekto sa iba’t ibang kasapi ng rehiyon," he continued.

At the same time, the chief executive said he will seize the opportunity to share the country's experience in the successful conclusion of the peace talks with Muslim rebels in Mindanao.

He said he hopes that the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro will serve as model to other countries having similar problems with separatist movements.

With his attendance to 24th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, the President said he hopes that it benefits the ongoing transformation of the country into a more progressive nation.

"Patuloy nating patutunayan sa mundo: Ang Pilipinas ay isa nang maaasahang kabalikat sa kaunlaran, at handang makipagsabayan at magpakitang-gilas sa iba’t ibang larangan," he said. PND (as)

Government will remain committed to resolving territorial spat with China diplomatically, says official

Malacanang said it remains committed to resolving the dispute in the West Philippines Sea despite the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US and other regional developments, a Palace official said on Saturday.

In a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte was asked about the country's determination regarding the issue after it filed a case in the international arbitral tribunal.

As the Philippines and the US signed the EDCA in addition to the planned integration of the ASEAN next year, there are doubts that the government will no longer prioritize its case in the international tribunal.

"Magkakahiwalay na mga inisyatiba ‘yon. At ‘yung pagpirma ng EDCA, pati ang nalalapit na ASEAN integration in 2015, walang kinalaman doon sa ating mga kasong isinampa sa arbitral tribunal," Valte said in the interview.

The palace official also said there will be no changes in the planned modernization of the armed forces despite the signing of EDCA. She said the modernization budget will remain the same although the government forged a stronger military tie up with the US.

"Kahit wala ang EDCA nakaplano na ‘yan. Even without the negotiations for the EDCA, the main program really of the administration is the AFP modernization plan. That includes procurement of equipment, and capacity-building for our soldiers," she said.

Apart from the acquisition of helicopters, Hamilton class cutters and combat planes, Valte said there is still a need to upgrade the hardware of the military. PND (as)

Palace: Increase in tuition fees must be justified

The Palace said it hopes the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will conduct strict screening of colleges and universities applying for tuition fee hikes to avoid unjustified increases.

As many colleges and universities want to increase their tuition rates, some teachers organizations are also asking for an increase in their pay.

In a radio interview on Saturday over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said there is an instruction for CHED to check thoroughly all the applications for tuition fee increases.

The government wants to ensure that educational institutions asking for tuition fee adjustments complies with the law, Valte said.

There is a Memorandum Circular issued by CHED mandating colleges and universities to hold truthful student consultations with regards to their plans to increase tuition fees.

"Umaasa po tayong mahigpit na ipapatupad ito ng CHED habang sinasala nila ang mga aplikasyon para magtaas ng tuition fees," she said. PND (as)

President Aquino arrives in Myanmar for ASEAN Summit

(NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived here Saturday afternoon to join fellow Southeast Asian leaders in the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

President Aquino together with the Philippine delegation arrived at Nay Pyi Taw International Airport at 3:32 p.m (Myanmar time) onboard Philippine Airlines flight PR001.

Upon arrival, the President was welcomed by Philippine officials led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Philippine Ambassador to Myanmar Alex Chua; Maria Lourdes Salcedo, deputy head of mission Philippine Embassy in Yangon; and Defense and Armed Forces Attache Colonel Edgardo de Leon.

Also present at the airport to receive the President were Myanmar officials namely U Than Htay, Union Minister for Rail Transportation and Spouse; U Ye Myint Aung, Ambassador of Myanmar to the Philippines; U Thurein Thant Zin, Director-General Protocol, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Han Wing Naing, Deputy Director, Economic Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Liaison Officer to the President) and Police Major Myat Koko, Security Officer to the President.

Philippine officials who accompanied the President were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Mindanao Development Authority Chair Luwalhati Antonino, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte.

President Aquino is leading the Philippine delegation to the ASEAN Summit. The theme for this year’s summit is "Moving Forward in Unity to A Peaceful and Prosperous Community," which stresses the importance of a united ASEAN.

Myanmar is hosting the ASEAN summit for the first time in 17 years since the country joined the regional bloc.

Later in the evening, President Aquino will attend the welcome dinner to be hosted by Myanmar President U Thein Sein for all ASEAN leaders and their delegations.

On Sunday, the President will join other leaders in the opening ceremony of the Summit. Then the President is also scheduled to attend the Plenary Session, and the Summit Retreat.

After which, President Aquino will attend the meetings with the representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, the Civil Society Organizations, and the ASEAN Youth.

Thereafter, the President will participate in the 10th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.

Aside from the Philippines, other members of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. PND (jb/co)