Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, September 20, 2014

President Aquino arrives in Germany

(BERLIN, Germany) President Benigno Aquino III arrived here on Friday for the last leg of his four-nation tour in Europe to meet top German officials and business executives.

President Aquino touched down at the Berlin Tegel Airport here at 10:45 a.m. (4:45 p.m. Manila time) and motored to the Federal Chancellery, the official residence of Germany’s Chancellor, where arrival honors were afforded to him.

The President was welcomed by German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, after which a working lunch will follow between the two leaders. A joint press conference is scheduled after the meeting of President Aquino and Chancellor Merkel.

Later in the day, the President will receive German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a courtesy call, followed by a meeting with German Federal President Joachim Gauck at the Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of Germany’s Federal President.

President Aquino is also scheduled to sit down with key officials of SAP SE, which provides business management software to more than 261,000 customers in 190 countries. It is the world’s third largest software company next to Microsoft and Oracle.

From the business meetings, the President will deliver a speech at the Policy Forum organized with Koerber Stiftung (or Koerber Foundation) and Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA).

The Koerber Foundation, which was established in 1959, is known for its regular conduct of dialogues, project grants and award programs for the promotion of German and European foreign policy, particularly in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, in the fields of education, science, civil welfare and music.

The Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business voices the concerns of German businesses to policy-makers in Germany and the Asia-Pacific region through summits and country visit exchanges.

The President will witness the ceremonial signing of the Supply and Install Agreement for QualiMed Projects between Mercado General Hospital, Inc. (MGHI) and Siemens, Inc. Philippines.

Marcus Wallenberg of Investor AB will pay a courtesy call on the President. Investor AB is a Swedish investment company founded in 1916.

President Aquino will then meet the Filipino community in Berlin. PND (jb)

President Aquino sees 2015 a banner year for Philippine economy

(PARIS, France) Given the unprecedented investor confidence enjoyed by the Philipppines, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday said he expects 2015 to be a banner year for the country.

Speaking before a forum organized by the French Institute for International Relations here, President Aquino said all the factors needed to allow the country to build the momentum are already in place.

“Given the unprecedented confidence enjoyed by our country, we expect 2015 to be a banner year. After all, the factors that can allow us to build on our momentum are in place,” President Aquino said, adding that the country is entering a demographic sweet spot by 2015, which will last for around 35 years.

“We have been investing in our greatest resource—our people, resulting in an expanding, productive labor force now even more prepared to seize all the opportunities,” he said.

President Aquino also said the Philippines has a strategic location and vast potential to be a crucial hub of trade, investments and services.

During his speech, the President cited the administration’s significant achievements in terms of improving the lives of Filipinos, as well as the reforms in key government agencies. "Together with ensuring that government would no longer be a party to wasting our people’s hard-earned money, we introduced landmark reform to agencies once known as hotbeds of corruption,” he said.

According to President Aquino, his administration’s commitment to good governance is now bearing fruit, and that the money that once went to the corrupt now goes to massive investments into the Filipino people.

“All these investments were made to ensure that the Filipino people, who are our greatest competitive advantage, are enabled to make the most of opportunities borne of renewed confidence in our country,” he said. "Indeed, good governance has redounded to a more capable and more active citizenry full of hope and optimism, and the combination of an increasingly-competitive population and a sustainable, prudently-run economy, has gained global notice,"

This was affirmed by the investment grade status given by Moody’s, Fitch and Standard and Poor’s, he said, and just recently by Korea's National Information and Credit Evaluation Ratings, Inc. The French Export Credit Agency has likewise upgraded the country’s risk rating.

“All this happened at a time when agencies have been very conservative with their evaluations due to an uncertain global economic climate. In fact, even in a period when various countries were being downgraded, the Philippines emerged as the world’s most upgraded sovereign,” he said.

“It is clear: good governance is good economics. Again, let me emphasize that this is not an empty pronouncement. Our Business Process Management Sector continues to mark impressive growth; manufacturing has rebounded impressively; and tourists all over the world are flocking to our beaches and cities, seeing for themselves how truly it is more fun in the Philippines,” he added.

Prior to his attendance to the forum, President Aquino visited the facility of Dassault Systèmes, a 3DEXPERIENCE company. During the visit, the President toured the 3Ds Paris campus and witnessed simulations on urban planning and disaster risk reduction. PND (co)

Filipino speaking French-African amazes President Aquino in Paris

(PARIS, France) A six-foot-five-inch French-African man became an instant celebrity when he caught the attention of President Benigno Aquino III in one of his engagements here on Thursday.

The President delivered a policy statement at the French Institute for International Relations (or IFRI, Institut Francais des Relations Internationales) when he met the 26-year-old Wesley Romain.

Romain surprised President Aquino when the former asked him questions in Filipino.

In the conversation, the President told Romain that his height would be a good advantage if he joins the Philippine basketball team.

“Gusto ko pero hindi ako magaling,” said Romain.

Romain learned to speak Filipino when he studied at the University of the Philippines in Diliman as an exchange student for international studies.

He said he has become interested in the “peace-building issues” in Mindanao that was why he went to the Philippines to study.

Romain requested for a picture with the President after the event, which Aquino warmly welcomed.

Romain also caught the attention of the media who even likened him to NBA superstar Kevin Durant. PND (jb)

Germany backs Philippines' position to settle territorial disputes peacefully

(BERLIN, Germany) President Benigno S. Aquino III and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday agreed that the territorial disputes in the South China Sea must be settled peacefully in accordance with international law.

President Aquino, who is in Germany for the last leg of his four-nation European tour, met with Chancellor Merkel at the Federal Chancellery, the official residence of the German leader.

“On this note, as regards the territorial and maritime disputes in Southeast Asia, the Chancellor and I share the conviction that these must be settled peacefully and should be based on international law,” the President said in a press conference after his talks with Merkel.

Chancellor Merkel supported the Philippines’ position to seek resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The German leader said both countries share the concerns on the increasing tensions in the region. “We believe in good, pragmatic approaches. But we also believe in solid, legal settlements of the disputes,” she said during a press conference.

“So I think the international dispute settlement arrangements that we have on the basis of UNCLOS is a very good way forward in order to settle those differences,” Chancellor Merkel added.

During a forum organized by French Institute for International Relations in Paris on Thursday, President Aquino underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia. "We continue to invite other claimant countries to join us, to accelerate the resolution of this very long standing dispute, which has lately caused much tension in our region,” the President said.

“The international community as a whole stands to gain when the rule of law is upheld—for only through such legal mechanisms can a truly just and stable world order be ensured,” he added.

According to President Aquino, the European Union leaders have also manifested their support for the resolution of disputes in the South China Sea based on the rule of law.

The Philippines is pushing for the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea towards the conclusion of the binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. PND (co)

Phl. Germany ink agreements on social security, technical vocational training, trade

(BERLIN, Germany) Bilateral relations between the Philippines and Germany reached another milestone with the signing of agreements on social security, technical vocational training and trade.

During the press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Federal Chancellery, President Benigno S. Aquino said the agreement on social security between the two nations will contribute to providing a context of equality of treatment in the workplace.

The President said the social security agreement would also improve the processing of claims and prevent dual coverage, and would consequently redound to the benefit of both Filipino and German nationals.

Another is a memorandum of understanding between the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, or BIBB, which will institutionalize regular dialogue and sharing of best practices between Filipino and German policymakers and experts.

The President said cooperation in technical vocational education and training “will provide an institutional foundation to expand practical cooperation between our respective ministries as well as with the private sector.”

“I am told that German technical expertise were instrumental in the development of the Philippines’ 'Dual Training System Act of 1994,' and we continue to harness those expertise towards our mutual gain,” he said during the press conference.

Meanwhile, President Aquino said a cooperation in trade through the exchange of drafts that will formally establish the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Manila, is a welcome sign now that the Philippines is more open for business.

“With this development, we can see enhanced trade and investments, especially among the German Mittelstand; it will also establish the cooperation arrangements with, and between, local German Chambers in Germany and the Philippines,” he said.

President Aquino said that all of the three agreements “underscore our common vision to build a Germany and a Philippines where equitable prosperity and shared development are realities enjoyed by our peoples.”

“It is this very context that informs our collective resolve to deepen relations, at a time when we are confronted by complex challenges and needs that require not only the cooperation and understanding between our two countries—but that of the entire community of nations,” he added.

President Aquino is in Germany for the last leg of his four-nation European tour. PND (co)

Cabinet members to inspect areas affected by Typhoon ‘Mario’

Members of the Cabinet are scheduled to conduct an inspection of areas affected by Typhoon Mario, a Malacañang official announced on Saturday morning.

In a radio interview, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that members of the Cabinet and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) will assess the condition of the typhoon victims.

“Ngayon po, alam ko mag-iikot sila kasama si NDRRMC Executive Director Alexander Pama, para makapag-conduct po ng inspection sa mga lugar na naapektuhan at titingnan kung ano pa ang dapat gawin para tulungan ang mga pamahalaang lokal,” said Valte.

She said that the Cabinet members, among them Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino, and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, were monitoring the typhoon from the NDRRMC Headquarters.

“Gusto pa natin i-assure ang ating mga kababayan, na ang mga miyembro ng official family ng Pangulong Aquino na nandito sa Pilipinas ay patuloy ang trabaho sa pag-carry out ng instruction ng ating Pangulong Aquino para sa doon sa mga kababayan natin na inabot ng baha,” Valte said.

Typhoon Mario has brought continuous rains that inundated parts of Metro Manila and affected much of northern Luzon. PND (ag)

Filipino community in Boston tells President Aquino: 'Welcome to your home'

(BOSTON, Massachusetts) The Filipino community is looking forward to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s two-day visit in this quaint American town where he is expected to have a reunion of sorts with his family's closest friends.

President Aquino is known to have spent some of his formative years here when his family temporarily left the Philippines to escape the brutal years of Martial Law from the late 70s to early 80s.

Leticia Hermosa, national president of the Philippine Nurses Association of America, admitted she turned "very emotional" upon learning of this visit by the President as it made her recall the fond memories she shared with his iconic parents, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. and President Corazon Aquino.

“It’s very, very emotional for me because when Benigno, the father, went home he really has very, very strong feelings about doing a good job in the Philippines. And unfortunately, the unfortunate thing happened, so I was very sad and from then on the Filipino community here in Boston is looking forward to their visit here.

"[It] started with Cory Aquino, we were looking forward to her coming back here. And of course, now with President Aquino, we are embracing (him) with warm welcome… Welcome to your home. This was his home when he was growing up,” Hermosa said in an interview.

President Aquino is expected to arrive here late Saturday evening (Sunday morning in Manila) at the Boston Logan International Airport upon the conclusion of his four-nation Europe tour.

On Sunday (Monday in Manila), President Aquino will attend a special mass at Boston College’s St. Ignatius Church before being ushered to the Robsham Theater where the traditional Filipino community gathering will be held.

President Aquino will also present scholarships to the recipients of the Benigno and Corazon Aquino Scholarship Foundation during the same event that will be attended by about 550 Filipinos.

On Monday (Tuesday evening in Manila), President Aquino will meet with Democrat Representative Joseph Patrick Kennedy III (4th District, Massachusetts). This will be followed by a series of business meetings with the chief executive officers of Conair Corporation, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc., and FIS Global.

After which, President Aquino will deliver a policy speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and he’s also expected to grant an interview with its campus journalists.

President Aquino will then depart Boston for New York City to attend the United Nations Climate Change Summit and pursue his other scheduled activities there before flying back home to Manila. PND (hdc)

Philippines, Germany agree to address worsening effects of climate change

(BERLIN, Germany) President Benigno S. Aquino III underscored the need for cooperation between developed and developing countries to combat the destructive effects of climate change, citing the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

During a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel following their meeting on Friday, President Aquino emphasized the shared determination of both nations to address the adverse impacts of climate change.

“This commitment to upholding the welfare of peoples is also reflected in our shared determination to address the worsening effects of climate change,” President Aquino said.

“Typhoon Haiyan showed that, now more than ever, the cooperation between developed and developing nations is an imperative,” said the President, whose visit to Berlin was part of his fourth and last stop of a European tour.

President Aquino further stated that the humanitarian assistance and disaster response are essential components of the two nations’ cooperation.

During their meeting, the President said that he and Chancellor Merkel discussed “how our partnership can be enhanced through building climate-resilient communities.”

He also thanked Germany for its generous assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan that hit the country in November 2013 and left thousands of people dead in Eastern Visayas.

“As we work to build back better, Germany continues to extend its generous assistance to my people,” President Aquino said.

“On behalf of my countrymen, I thank the Federal Republic of Germany once more for being a true friend to our people. Indeed, your nation’s clear expression of solidarity with my countrymen will always be remembered and appreciated,” he said. PND (co)

President Aquino oversees storm situation in Manila, sees no reason to cancel US trip

(BERLIN, Germany) President Benigno Aquino III said he is overseeing government efforts in dealing with the effects of Typhoon Mario and sees no reason to cut short his visit in Europe and postpone his engagements in the United States.

Speaking to reporters during his regular coffee meeting with the Philippine media delegation here Friday night, President Aquino said he is constantly getting updates from Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and other Cabinet secretaries in charge of disaster response and was told that everything is under control.

“I asked ES (Ochoa) specifically: ‘Do I need to go home? And he said: Everyone is doing their duties, so there is no reason for you to cancel your trips,” the President said.

Since the President left the country, two consecutive storms have entered the Philippines--Typhoons Luis and Mario--that caused massive flooding in Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, and he said that he is constantly informed of the status of the typhoon.

He added that food packs have already been prepositioned in affected areas and people who have been displaced are being attended to by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“I believe they are all ready to respond to the bad weather situation and everything is being taken care of,” President Aquino said.

The President is set to fly to the US Saturday night to address the United Nations Climate Change Summit to be held at the UN headquarters in New York. PND (jb)

President Aquino receives Friedrich Naumann freedom medal

(BERLIN, Germany) President Benigno S. Aquino III was conferred the Freedom Medal by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in recognition of the reforms and good governance agenda put forward by his administration.

President Aquino received the Freedom Medal and thanked the FNF for the honor during a simple ceremony held at the new chancery of the Embassy of the Philippines here in Berlin on Friday.

“I accept with all humility and gratitude on behalf of our people this distinct honor that you have bestowed upon me, and we will forever be greatful for the recognition of our efforts in advancing the cause of all humanity,” the President said.

Dr. Wolfgang Gerhardt, president of FNF, presented the award to President Aquino and lauded the President for his successful reforms in the areas of education, fight against corruption and adherence to the rule of law.

Dr. Gerhardt, during the ceremony, also lauded President Aquino for being an inspiration and example of leadership to Liberals around the world.

The Freedom Medal is given to outstanding politicians who “dedicate themselves in pushing for the liberal agenda and who stand up in defense of democracy, human rights, and free market economy, especially in times of crisis. “

Other recipients of the Freedom Medal in the past were former Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha, Western Cape Prime Minister Helen Zille and Liberal International President Hans van Baalen.

FNF is a German foundation working for good governance, human rights and free market economy. PND (co)