Government sets aside P31.9-M for President Aquino's working visit to Europe
The government is spending around P31.9 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s working visit to Spain, Belgium, France, and Germany in a bid to bolster diplomatic and trade relations with Europe and the European Union (EU), Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Sunday.
President Aquino will be embarking on his four-nation working visit to Europe from Sept. 13 to Sept. 20 via a chartered flight accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala Jr., Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Transportation and Communication Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma, Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III and Undersecretary Rochelle Ahorro.
The amount covers expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other requirements of the Chief Executive and his delegation for the eight-day visit to Europe, President Aquino's first to the region since he assumed office in 2010.
“Our Chief Executive is expected to meet government and business leaders in Madrid, Brussels, Paris, and Berlin, as well as members of the Filipino communities there,” Ochoa noted.
“We anticipate having stronger friendship and trade relations with Europe and the EU after this trip of the President.”
In Madrid, President Aquino is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and His Majesty King Felipe VI to convey the Philippines’ gratitude for keeping the Philippines in its Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. He will also visit and offer flowers at the Rizal Monument in the Spanish capital.
In Belgium, President Aquino will meet with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, His Majesty King Philippe and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the EU is the Philippines’ primary source of foreign direct investments and is considered one of the major sources of tourists for the country.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Zeneida Angara-Collinson earlier said that one of the highpoints in President Aquino’s working visit in Belgium is the policy speech he will deliver at the Egmont Institute to mark the 50th Anniversary of the PH-EU relations.
In Paris, President Aquino is set to discuss bilateral issues with President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls, deliver a policy speech at an event organized by the French Institute for International Relations and witness the signing of the Philippines-France Defense Cooperation Agreement.
In Berlin, President Aquino will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Joachim Gauck. Among the issues they expect to discuss are maritime cooperation, hiring of nurses, and technical and vocational education and training between the Philippines and Germany.
President Aquino is likewise scheduled to deliver a major speech at a forum organized by the Körber-Stiftung and the Asia Pacific Association in Germany.
In all four countries, President Aquino will meet Filipino communities.
According to the DFA, there are around 700,000 Filipinos in Europe with 44,000 living in Spain, 6,600 in Belgium, 46,000 in France, and 20,000 in Germany. PND
President Aquino to highlight Philippine successes in his European, US trips
President Benigno S. Aquino III said his trip to Europe and the US is aimed at boosting other nations' confidence on the Philippines noting that his travel is a good opportunity for the country to strengthen its relations with the countries he will be visiting.
"Malamang, nakarating na po sa kanila ang transpormasyong tinatamasa natin ngayon, kaya’t layunin po nating lalo pang pataasin ang kanilang kompiyansa sa ating bansa," the President said in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on Saturday.
The President said he'll share with other leaders that the country's present economic gains are the result of good stewardship of the government.
Among the major agenda of his meetings in Europe and the US include trade, peace and security, as well as the ongoing reforms in the Philippines.
"Magandang pagkakataon nga po ang biyaheng ito para mapatibay ang relasyon ng Pilipinas sa ibang bansa," he said.
In Europe, the President said he'll advance the interest of the country's seafarers, particularly with the assessment of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) on the level of Filipino seamen's competence.
The President said he will spell out the country's thrust to ensure that Filipino seafarers have the skills and knowledge based on the 1978 Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping.
The Philippines will also assure European governments that the country takes part in the global effort to fight illegal fishing and that the Philippines is addressing the concerns of European nations with regards to this menace, he said.
Together with the government Economic Development Cluster, the President said they will talk to European and American businessmen to bring their investments to the Philippines and promote the country's tourism potential.
"Ilan lang po sa mga ibibida natin ay ang mga umuusbong na oportunidad sa industriya ng manufacturing, IT-BPO, enerhiya, at sa mga isinusulong nating proyekto sa ilalim ng Public-Private Partnership," he said.
In the US, the President said he will address the UN Climate Summit 2014 in New York to tell other nations on the need for a concerted global effort to tackle climate change, which affects vulnerable countries like the Philippines.
At the same time, he said he will meet the Filipino Community to tell them about the developments in the country and the ongoing reforms in government.
According to the President, he will also seize the opportunity to express the country's gratitude to other nations that immediately extended assistance when the Philippines was hit by Typhoon Yolanda last year.
"Gayundin, ilalatag natin sa kanila ang kongkreto nating mga plano para sa pagbangon at rehabilitasyon ng mga apektadong komunidad," he said.
Part of the President's itinerary in Europe includes Spain, Belgium, France and Germany. In the US, he is expected to visit Boston, New York, and San Francisco in California. He will return to Manila on September 25.
The President's entourage is composed of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, NEDA Dir. Gen. Arsenio Balisacan,
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad, and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manolo Quezon.
Presidential Appointment Undersecretary Rochelle Ahorro and Presidential Chief of Protocol Ambassador Celia Feria are also part of the delegation. PND (as)
Busy schedule awaits President Aquino on first day in Madrid, Spain
MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III will have a very busy day when he arrives here on Sunday, his first leg of the four-nation working visit to Europe.
President Aquino is scheduled to touch down at Torrejon Airbase on board a chartered Philippines Airlines flight PR001 at 7:30 a.m. (1:30 p.m. in Manila).
At 1:45 p.m., the President will be meeting with former Prime Minister of Spain Honorable Jose Maria Aznar at the Intercontinental Hotel. Aznar, who served as prime minister from 1996 to 2004, is now a board director with the mass media group News Corporation and a member of the non-profit organization Club de Madrid.
The President will then meet with Madrid Fusion where there will be a signing of statement of support between the Department of Tourism and Spanish Foreign Trade Institute ICEX. Madrid Fusion is one of the biggest gastronomic events in Spain, which brings together the world’s greatest chefs and food companies, and holds one of the most famous conferences in the world about cooking and food.
The President will be introduced by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez to the organizers and chefs of Madrid Fusion.
At 3 p.m., the Chief Executive will lead a wreath-laying ceremony at Dr. Jose Rizal’s monument at Avenida Islas Filipinas in the Spanish capital, accompanied by members of the Philippine delegation who will join him during the eight-day visit to Europe, his first since becoming the president in 2010.
The President and his party will then proceed to a meeting with the Filipino community to be held at Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas, where they will be welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Salinas and spouse Isabelita, and Don Juan Alberto Perez, director-general of Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.
Spain is home to some 44,000 Filipinos who are either residents or migrant workers, according to a recent data from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
For the rest of the day, the President will hold business meetings with leaders of various companies, including Grupo Actividades de Construccion Y Servicios, Abengoa, Calidad Pascual, Ineco, Globalvia, Acciona and Indra, followed by an event hosted by the Philippine business delegation at the Intercontinental Hotel. PND (jb)
President Aquino to meet Spain's King Felipe VI, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy
MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to meet Monday His Majesty King Felipe VI and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to discuss a wide range of issues, including developments in the West Philippine Sea, the status of the peace process in Mindanao, the welfare of Filipino seafarers, and the country's bid for a preferential trading agreement.
President Aquino will first hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Rajoy at 9 a.m. at the Palacio de la Moncloa, the official residence for the Prime Minister of Spain since 1977, and will be joined by four Cabinet members and their Spanish counterparts.
During the meeting, the President is also expected to thank Spain for maintaining the Philippines a priority country for Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA). According Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Zeneida Angara-Collinson, the Philippines is the only Asian country that benefits from the Spanish ODA program owing to the deep ties between the two nations.
Arrival honors are expected to be rendered for the President when he arrives at the Prime Minister’s official residence, followed by the signing of the guest book which all heads of states or governments do when visiting the Prime Minister’s office.
After the bilateral meeting, the President will have an audience with the King of Spain, His Majesty Felipe VI, at Palacio de la Zarzuela, during which the Chief Executive is expected to confirm His Majesty's acceptance to visit the Philippines.
These two events will be the last schedule of the President in Madrid before he departs for Brussels, Belgium for the second leg of his eight-day Europe trip. PND (jb)
Palace welcomes City of Manila's decision to lift the truck ban
The Palace welcomed the decision of the City of Manila to lift the truck ban to ease the traffic congestion in the Port Area, said a Malacanang official on Sunday.
In a press briefing over radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said on Sunday that this decision will benefit all.
“Papalapit na po ang Christmas season, and this will help in decongesting the Port of Manila. We expect na mag-i-ease po ‘yung inflationary pressure on prices because magiging mas continuous na po ang supply ng ating mga produkto,” said Valte.
She noted that the business sector also welcomed the lifting of the truck ban and this will open the possibilities of a better scheme to utilize the Port of Manila more effectively.
“Dahil po diyan sa naging problemang iyan, siyempre marami na ang naging diskusyon kung paano po natin mayu-utilize nang mas maayos ang Port of Manila, kung paano po magiging mas efficient. Hintayin na lang din po natin ang mga magiging susunod na hakbang ng ating mga ahensya ng pambansang pamahalaan,” Valte said.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, in a press conference on Saturday, said with the lifting of the truck ban they are now giving the national government a freehand to decongest the Port of Manila.
“Sa akin pong pagkakaalam ay talaga naman pong kasama sa pag-uusap ang pamahalaan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, lalo na pagdating dito sa isyu ng port congestion at ang truck ban. Alam ko namang bukas ang linya, mula pa noong simula, bukas ang linya ng ating mga Cabinet Secretaries at ni Mayor Estrada tungkol sa isyu na ito,” said Valte. PND (ag)
Palace advises residents of Northern Luzon to prepare for 'Typhoon Luis'
Malacañang has advised residents of Northern Luzon to brace themselves for 'Typhoon Luis,' which is expected to make landfall on Sunday evening.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters in a press briefing over radio station dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday that the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) has mobilized its local councils in the provinces affected by the typhoon.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA), the storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 160 kph as of Sunday morning.
Storm Signal No. 3 has been raised in the provinces of Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Kalinga, Isabela, Mountain Province, Ilocos Sur, Ifugao, Northern Aurora, Quirino, Cagayan, including the Babuyan and Calayan Islands.
Signal No. 2 has been raised in Batanes, Benguet, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and the rest of Aurora; and Signal No. 1 in Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Northern Quezon, and Polillo Island.
“Nag-advise na rin po tayo sa mga local DRRMCs na mag-initiate po ng preemptive evacuation ng mga pamilya sa mga low-lying and mountainous areas, if the situation warrants,” said Valte.
Meanwhile, Valte confirmed that the Philippine Coast Guard is continuing its search for passengers of the ferry that sank off the waters of Southern Leyte last Saturday.
“Ang total na na-recover po natin ay 110 survivors, ngunit hindi po magandang balita na merong tatlong fatalities… Naghahanap pa sila ng three unaccounted passengers, at hopefully, mahanap at sila po ay nasa maayos na kondisyon,” she said.
According to reports, MV Maharlika II, sailing from Lipata, Surigao City to Liloan, Cebu, sank after encountering bad weather. PND (ag)
President Aquino arrives in Madrid, begins first leg of European trip
MADRID, Spain) President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived here Sunday morning for a two-day visit aimed to forge stronger bilateral and trade ties with Spain.
The President, accompanied by the official delegation, arrived in the Spanish capital at 7:22 a.m. (1:22 p.m. in Manila) to begin his four-nation trip to Europe from September 13 to 20.
The Chief Executive's schedule in Madrid includes meetings with King of Spain His Majesty Felipe VI and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to discuss, among others, developments on the Mindanao peace process and the West Philippine Sea, as well as the welfare of Filipino seafarers.
He will also meet with former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar to discuss economic relations and other issues.
It will be followed by a meeting with the organizers of the Madrid Fusión, an annual international gastronomy gathering attended by elite chefs and experts in the culinary field to discuss trends, evolution of tastes and new food habits.
The President was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos C. Salinas, Consul General Emmanuel Fernandez, and Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Colonel Benjamin Castro.
Also present to receive President Aquino at the airport were Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Luis Antonio Calvio, Chief of Protocol Ambassador Jose Maria Rodriguez Coso, and other officials.
The President is accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., and Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad. PND (co)