Tuesday, 16 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Monday, September 15, 2014

President Aquino leads wreath-laying at Rizal Monument in Madrid

(MADRID, Spain) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday led the wreath-laying ceremony here at the monument of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

President Aquino, accompanied by his official delegation, paid tribute to Dr. Jose P. Rizal, whose monument at Avenida de las Islas Filipinas was a replica of the one in Rizal Park in Manila.

The replica of the Rizal Monument was inaugurated on December 5, 1996 in time for the commemoration of the 100th death anniversary of the Philippine national hero and the centennial celebration of the country's independence from Spain.

Following the ceremony, the Chief Executive proceeded to Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas to meet the Filipino community here. There are around 44,000 Filipinos working and residing in Spain.

President Aquino arrived here Sunday morning for the first leg of his eight-day visit to Europe.

This afternoon, the President met separately with former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar of Spain and organizers of Madrid Fusión, an international gastronomy gathering held annualy here.

His engagements on Sunday also include business meetings with leaders of various companies, including Grupo Actividades de Construccion Y Servicios, Abengoa, Calidad Pascual, Ineco, Globalvia, Acciona, and Indra at the Intercontinental Hotel. PND (co)

President Aquino witnesses signing of MOU between DOT, ICEX to hold 'Madrid Fusion' in Manila

(MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday witnessed the ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade or Instito Español de Comercio Exterior (ICEX) for the holding of Madrid Fusión in Manila next year that will bring together the best chefs and culinary experts from around the world.

In the MOU signed between the DOT and the ICEX at the Intercontinental Hotel, the Philippines will host the world famous gastronomic gathering Madrid Fusión in April 2015 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

President Aquino witnessed the signing of the MOU between Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and his counterpart, Spain’s State Minister for Economy and Competitiveness Jaime Garcia-Legaz.

Madrid Fusión, which is held annually in Spain, is well attended by the elite chefs and experts in the field of culinary from across the globe to discuss developments, global trends, evolution of taste and new food habits, among others.

Madrid Fusión-Manila aims to showcase an encounter between Spanish and Filipino chefs to celebrate 300 years of shared history. Next year, the annual event will have two major components: the Gastronomy Congress and trade exhibition. PND (jb)

President Aquino lauds Filipino community in Spain for supporting 'Gilas Pilipinas'

(MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III thanked the Filipino community in Spain for supporting the Philippine international basketball team Gilas Pilipinas during their recent campaign at the FIBA World Cup.

During his meeting with the Filipino community here on Sunday, President Aquino said although 'Gilas Pilipinas' did not make the next stage of the tournament, Filipinos should still be proud of the team for playing an impressive game.

“We may not have won the championship, but a lot of people were impressed by the amazing skill of our Filipino athletes,” Aquino said in Filipino.

He said the Philippines may have the shortest players in FIBA but it did not stop the team from giving a tough fight against powerhouse teams such as Greece, Argentina, Puerto Rico and Croatia.

“Nobody can say that our team fell short in showing their determination, excellence and their heart [in every game] that’s why we are proud of that,” the Chief Executive said.

The President said he was glad that Filipinos even from other countries flew to Spain to show their support for the Philippine basketball team.

'Gilas Pilipinas' won the hearts of many by playing hard and inspiring games in the FIBA World Cup.

The Philippine team won its last game against Senegal, the country’s first victory in the world basketball stage after nearly four decades. PND (jb)

President Aquino highlights country's gains at meeting with Filipino community

(MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III outlined the administration’s achievements in fields of economy, tourism, education and infrastructure when he met with the Filipino community at the Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas here on Sunday.

Speaking before at least 700 Filipinos, President Aquino shared the accomplishments of the administration in the last four-and-a-half years of good governance and transparency.

“All of the changes that we have been enjoying were results of restored trust and confidence of the people to the government and their selves brought about by fair system and good governance,” the President said.

Aquino cited the continuing robust economy of the Philippines, which resulted in the upgrade of credit ratings to investment grade status by three major credit rating agencies despite challenges brought about by Typhoon Yolanda, the Zamboanga siege, Bohol earthquake, among others.

Once called the “sick man of Asia,” the Philippines is now hailed as “Asia’s rising star and bright spot” as the economy grew by 6.4 percent in the second quarter of 2014 to beat neighbors Thailand and Indonesia and to be at par with Malaysia, Aquino said.

“In September, based on the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, we jumped to 32 spots, the highest since 2010,” the President told the Filipino community.

The Chief Executive likewise noted progress in the tourism sector that would make it possible to achieve 10 million tourist arrivals in the last two years of his term until 2016.

He said Filipinos should expect more flights to Europe and the United States following the upgrade of the Philippines to Category 1 status by the US Federal Aviation Authority.

“Our invitation to the entire world: We are not just open for business, it’s more fun in the Philippines,” President Aquino said.

The President also noted that infrastructure developments, including construction and repairs of major roads and public transportation facilities are in full swing.

He also cited the construction and improvements of major expressways in the country including the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway. And by the end of 2014 and next year, TPLEX will be extended up to Urdaneta, Pangasinan and Rosario, La Union, respectively.

“This means ‘LEX' (less) anxiety for the people,” the Chief Executive said.

He also mentioned other major infrastructure projects such as the Cavite LRT extension, upgrade of airports and seaports, construction and development of the Clark Green City in Central Luzon, which will be bigger than the Bonifacio Global City, and the bus rapid transit project in Cebu.

President Aquino likewise noted the construction of more classrooms for educational improvement and housing units for the military and police authorities.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, he said, has so far assisted some 4.1 million indigent Filipinos back home.

The President also relayed the good news in Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s improved placement rate, PhilHealth’s wider health plan coverage, as well as the Department of Science and Technology’s enhanced weather forecasting facilities.

“We don’t wait for the so-called trickle down effect. The benefits to the people, just like how the famous line of my sister Kris goes: Now na!,” he said. PND (jb)

Palace official says zero casualty so far for 'Typhoon Luis’

A Malacañang official said there has so far been zero casualty, as Typhoon Luis left the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Monday.

“So far, there has been a zero casualty and that is … our aspirational goal. Hopefully, this becomes a reality, but we are still assessing the situation and also the aftermath of Typhoon Luis,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing at the Palace on Monday.

Secretary Lacierda attributed this to the experiences gained by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) from each disaster that it encounters, as well as to improved weather forecasting.

“Because of the improved weather forecasting, we are able to identify immediately the path that the storm is going to take, and for that, we are able to inform the LGUs (local government units) concerned,” he said.

He added that the LGUs are equipped to inform the local residents immediately if any danger zone needs to be evacuated.

“Based on a lot of experience, based on our NDRRMC structure, we are able to respond proactively, with the end in view of minimizing casualties or damage to the country,” Lacierda said. PND (ag)

Aquino invites Spanish investors to do business in the Philippines

(MADRID, Spain) President Benigno S. Aquino III invited Spanish businessmen to invest in the Philippines, saying major achievements of his administration in the economic front and in the fight against corruption have prepared the country to be an investment haven in Asia.

“As the Spanish economy shows encouraging signs of recovery, I believe that this is an opportune time to invite you to invest in a resurgent economy,” President Aquino told the Networking with the Philippine Business Delegation event here.

In wooing potential investors, the Chief Executive highlighted the country’s strong economic growth record, noting that from 2010 to 2013, the Philippines registered an average growth of 6.3 percent.

He said the investment grade status from Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch Group and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report that cited the Philippines as the most improved country since 2010 are proof enough that the Philippines is a sound investment destination.

Even various publications and reputable organizations have referred to the Philippines as “Asia’s bright spot” or “Asia’s rising tiger.”

The President said anti-corruption efforts to cut red tape would make it easier for businesses to set up shop in the Philippines, while reforms to liberalize industries would open more investment potentials.

“All of this, we have to stress, is only the beginning. Our focus has always been on inclusive growth, which necessarily means prioritizing our greatest resource, the Filipino people,” President Aquino said.

Acknowledging that the Filipino people are the country’s greatest resource, the President said his administration has been focusing on improving the lives of the poorest of the poor.

The President said the government has succeeded in improving the plight of around 2.5 million Filipinos above poverty line. He also said the government is now focusing on pushing the “near poor” away from the poverty line.

“Indeed, we are working to go from strength to strength. Moving forward, we continue to invest in infrastructure, to develop key industries like manufacturing, and to expand the coverage of social services, healthcare, and education—so that more Filipinos can take part and contribute to this economic resurgence,” President Aquino said.

“We are determined to prove to the world an important truth about our country: In the Philippines you will find a place where the government is focused on investing on its greatest resource, its people; a nation where entrepreneurs are viewed as partners, and where everyone works to prove that, for tourists and businesses alike: Es más divertido en las Filipinas,” he said. PND (co)

Top Spanish firms keen on investing in the Philippines, says Coloma

(MADRID, Spain) Spain’s leading companies have expressed interest to invest in the Philippines and participate in various Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects of the Aquino administration, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday met with business leaders from various companies as part of efforts to enhance trade and investment partnerships with Spain.

“The President briefed them on the country’s strong economic growth record that has been built on a platform of good governance that assures a level playing field and favorable investment returns,” Coloma said.

President Aquino, joined by his official delegation, held talks with the executives of the engineering company Grupo Actividades de Construccion y Servicios (ACS), during which the Spanish group has “expressed interest in participating in renewable energy (solar and wind) projects in the country,” Coloma said.

Another company, Abengoa, which is engaged in innovative sustainable technology solutions in the energy and environment sectors, has expressed interest to bid in the Bulacan Bulk Water Supply Project, according to Coloma.

The President also held talks with officials of Calidad Pascual, a family-owned dairy company that manufactures and markets more than 200 dairy products, fruit juices and desserts.

Coloma said Calidad Pascual plans to establish a manufacturing facility in the country by 2016 if it reaches the target sales of 3 million kilograms of pasteurized yogurt in the Philippine by end-2015. The planned manufacturing facility would bring in an initial $8 million in investments.

He said that in 2013, sales of Calidad Pascual in the Philippines reached 1 million kilograms with a total value of $3.7 million.

Ineco, another Spanish firm engaged in infrastructure projects such as aviation, railways, roads, urban transport and ports, has expressed interest to bid in the Integrated Transport System Project-South Terminal and the Laguna Lakeshore Expressway-Dike Project under the PPP program.

President Aquino also held separate meetings with the executives of Globalvia, Acciona and Indra Sistemas.

In the meting, Indra Sistemas, a consulting and technology firm, told the President that it plans to strengthen its software solutions factory to become the main production center for the ASEAN region, as well as increase the number of its employees to more than 2,000 in the next four years. PND (co)