Monday, 2 June 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, May 11, 2014

ASEAN Foreign Minister push for early conclusion of Code of Conduct in South China Sea

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) ASEAN Foreign Ministers emphasized the need for expeditiously working towards an early conclusion of the Code of Conduct, which aims to ease tension in the disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea.

This was raised during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) held at Sapphire Hall in Myanmar International Convention Center I here Saturday attended by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his counterparts.

In a statement released following the AMM, it said that ASEAN Foreign Ministers expressed serious concerns over the ongoing tensions in the West Philippine Sea.

"They urged all parties concerned, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to exercise self-restraint and avoid actions which could undermine peace and stability in the area; and to resolve disputes by peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force,” the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Current Development in the South China Sea said.

The foreign ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, maritime security, freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as well as the ASEAN’s Six-Point Principles on the South China Sea and the Joint Statement of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

"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 in order to create an environment of mutual trust and confidence,” the statement added.

The Philippines has overlapping territorial claims in the West Philippines Sea along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and China.

The Philippines has submitted a formal pleading to the United Nations arbitral tribunal seeking to invalidate China's claims under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The AMM was chaired by His Excellency U Wunna Maung Lwin, Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and attended by foreign ministers and the representatives of the Foreign Minister of Thailand.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario also attended the 11th ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting.

At the meeting, the ministers discussed the developments in Sectoral Bodies under the ASEAN Political and Security Council, the Implementation of Recommendations from the 7th Coordinating Conference for the ASEAN Political-Security Community and expediting the implementation of the remaining APSC action lines, which are under process of implementation of the APSC blueprint.

In conjunction with the APSC, the 14th Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Councilu was held where the ministers discussed the preparations for the 24th ASEAN Summit, reports of the Secretary General on the work of ASEAN and other reports submitted by the ASEAN Foundation. PND (jb)

Myanmar President Thein Sein welcomes President Aquino, other ASEAN leaders

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno S. Aquino III and other leaders were welcomed Sunday morning by Myanmar President U Thein Sein at the opening ceremony of the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here.

President Aquino, in a dark suit, was greeted by President Thein Sein and wife, Daw Khin Khin Win, upon arrival at the Main Lobby of the Myanmar International Convention Center for the opening ceremony.

The ASEAN Leaders’ Summit kicked off Saturday with an evening welcome reception for the heads of states or governments and their delegations hosted by President Thein Sein held at the convention center, which is also the venue for the summit.

After the opening ceremony of the summit, President Aquino and the other leaders of the 10-member association will convene in plenary session.

At the plenary, they are expected to discuss the progress of the implementation of the roadmap for an ASEAN Community, the initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan II, and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

The leaders will also exchange views on the future of the ASEAN community, as well as external relations and future directions.

After the plenary session, it will be followed by the retreat session of the 24th ASEAN Summit, where current regional and international issues will be discussed.

President Aquino will also join his counterparts for the interface meetings with representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, Civil Society Organizations, and ASEAN Youth.

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

This is the first time Myanmar is hosting the ASEAN Summit since it joined the bloc in 1997.

Emphasizing the importance of a united ASEAN, “Moving Forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community” is the theme for this year’s summit.

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

Malacanang leaves it up to Legislative to decide on repeal of 'no permit, no rally' law

Malacanang is leaving it up to members of Congress to decide on how to act on the plan of one of its members to have the no permit, no rally law repealed.

In a press conference aired over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that members of Congress have the jurisdiction to act on Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares’ call to repeal the no permit, no rally law.

“Siguro nasa kasamahan na nila sa Kongreso kung gusto nilang amendahan yung panukala na yan,” Valte said.

“While the freedom of assembly is one of the constitutional rights enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution, even Philippine jurisdiction recognizes there are reasonable rights when it comes to place para hindi magkaroon ng disruption o gulo,” she added. PND (rck)

President Aquino thanks ASEAN member states for helping in 'Yolanda' aftermath

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno Aquino III thanked fellow member leaders of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) and their peoples for the assistance they rendered during the aftermath of Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) last year.

President Aquino expressed his gratitude to the ASEAN community during his intervention at the 24th ASEAN Summit Plenary held at the Ruby Hall of the Myanmar International Convention Center here on Sunday.

"We may yet be some time away from the realization of the ASEAN Community, but allow me to say that, in the aftermath of the typhoon, the Philippines saw the full solidarity of our ASEAN neighbors, as well as our other friends and partners in the international community, who reached out to those affected. Your response in that time of dire need was indeed overwhelming and inspiring,” he said.

President Aquino particularly thanked ASEAN Secretary-General, His Excellency Le Luong Minh, for personally leading the delivery of ASEAN relief goods to the city of Tacloban in November last year.

"Our gratitude also goes to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) for its timely assistance,” he added.

The President said Typhoon Haiyan displayed the solidarity and clear commitment of the global community and ASEAN to help the survivors recover from the typhoon’s devastation.

Given the massive destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan, President Aquino said it gives the Philippines opportunity to harness solidarity and cooperation in making the country more resilient, in mitigating and guarding against the effects of climate change and in building back better communities affected by disaster.

Citing the Philippines as one of the ASEAN countries most vulnerable to natural calamities, the President emphasized the need for the full implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response and the strengthening of the AHA Centre.

"We specifically propose that ASEAN maximize its standby arrangements for joint disaster relief and emergency response operations and protocols among our individual disaster management agencies,” he said.

He likewise urged ASEAN leaders to support the work of the High Level Task Force and the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group, which are tasked to analyze and recommend what must be accomplished or amended by regional organization when it comes to disaster response.

With respect to addressing global climate change, President Aquino said the ASEAN community should continue to urge developed countries to follow through on their commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and to assist developing countries in climate change adaptation.

"As we have deepened our engagements in enhancing disaster relief and emergency response, so too must we exhibit utmost cooperation in responding to the reality of global climate change. Let us work together and find solutions that ensure that no other nation need suffer through another Typhoon Haiyan,” he said. PND (jb)

Compensation for martial law human rights victims will be completed within two years, says Palace

The Palace said it hopes that martial law human rights victims will receive their compensation within two years or before President Beningno S. Aquino III completes his term
“Umaasa po tayong mako-complete nila ‘yung proseso (compensation for martial law human rights victims) sa loob ng dalawang taon,” said Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte in a press briefing aired Sunday over radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte also assured the public that the 10 billion pesos worth of compensation fund for the victims remains intact.

“Ang alam ko po ay nasa Bureau of Treasury na po ‘yan at matagal na pong buo ang amount na ‘yan,” Valte’s reply to the question whether the compensation fund remains intact.

The Deputy Spokesperson reiterated Malacanang’s previous statement that Human Rights Claims Board (HRCB) head Lina Sarmiento had their trust and confidence.

“Umaasa po tayong matutugunan ni Ginang Sarmiento ang binigay na mandato ng Pangulo at ‘yung mandato rin po niya sa ilalim ng batas,” said Valte.

Militant groups are questioning the appointment of Sarmiento as head of the human rights board. Sarmiento is a retired police general and the first female third level official that held a director rank.

Part of the mandate of Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 is to give compensation to the martial law human rights victims in the period of two years. PND (ag)

Aquino hopes Bangsamoro Agreement will help promote peace in ASEAN region

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar) President Benigno Aquino III shared the Philippine experience in the successful signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) hoping that it will serve as a model to other ASEAN countries dealing with similar problems with separatists groups.

In his intervention during the ASEAN Summit Plenary held at the Ruby Hall of the Myanmar International Convention Center here on Sunday, President Aquino stressed that the recent CAB signing motivates the Philippines to share insights on peace, conflict resolution, and reconciliation with ASEAN neighbors.

"The Philippines hopes that the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro adds to the body of experience that can inform conflict-resolution practices in ASEAN moving forward,” he said.

"Peace in any part of the world redounds to the benefit of all. As peace in the Bangsamoro lays the foundations of stability, inclusivity, and progress in Mindanao, more doors of opportunity are opened --- for the people of Mindanao, for the entire Philippines, and for partners and friends who wish to contribute to development,” he said.

He noted that the success of the peace process thus far contributes to ASEAN’s growing experience and best practices in the promotion of a culture of peace and respect for diversity.

"Included in our work to establish a strong, stable, and peaceful ASEAN Community is the task of building on the values and best practices of our institutions in addressing intra-, inter-, and regional conflicts. Peace is a fundamental concern of all nations; sharing best practices then allows us to address problems and challenges more comprehensively,” he said.

The President also took the opportunity to express gratitude to fellow ASEAN countries who played important roles in sealing a peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) last March 27.

He thanked Malaysia, in particular, for facilitating the negotiations between the Philippine government panel and the MILF; as well as Brunei and Indonesia, for playing instrumental roles as members of the International Monitoring Team.

In his statement, the President stressed the hardships of civilians, especially the vulnerable ones such as mothers and children in times of conflict, recounting the experience of MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and his family.

"The signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro was the first such occasion that Chairman Murad’s wife had ever visited our capital, Metro Manila. Both of them had witnessed many years of conflict—years during which Chairman Murad and his companions had to isolate their loved ones in special communities to protect them from the ravages of conflict,” he said.

"In these situations, whether for those engaged in conflict or others, the paramount human interest, has always been to keep families alive and healthy. For leaders like ourselves, the paramount interest is very similar: to minimize, or even prevent, loss of life and casualty, and to ensure that communities remain whole, and that development is sustained,” he added.

In an embodiment of the Philippines' desire to contribute to building peace in the regional community, President Aquino discussed the Philippines’ hosting of the first Symposium of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation on April 7 and 8.

"This is in line with the ASEAN Political Security Community Blueprint, which sets out to establish ASEAN’s experiences and best practices on peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution, as well as to enhance cooperation among ASEAN think tanks on the subjects of peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution,” he said.

He emphasized that the Philippines strongly advocates a more proactive approach towards the pursuit of peace, freedom, and stability.

"Our shared commitment must go beyond research and capacity-building. Efforts must be directed towards consolidating the narratives of peace in our region, and distilling its lessons to forge a consensus and to institutionalize habits of peace-building,” he said.

"We believe that documenting ASEAN’s wealth of experience in conflict resolution and preventive diplomacy can guide all of us in building a stronger, more peaceful, and more stable ASEAN Community.” he added.

Meanwhile, Myanmar President U Thein Sein, during the ASEAN Summit opening ceremony, lauded the Philippines for the successful signing of the CAB saying that the peace deal was a "great achievement".

He likewise congratulated Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, as well as the other ASEAN Member States who contributed towards the CAB signing adding that the ASEAN nations extended full support for the Philippines' efforts to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao. PND (jb)