Wednesday, 24 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Thursday, September 18, 2014

President Aquino says government addressing human rights

(BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday assured the international community that the Philippine government is addressing human rights complaints and is ready to apply the full force of the law against those who are found guilty of abuses and extra-judicial killings.

President Aquino told the Egmont Institute where he delivered a policy speech that his administration has taken steps to uphold human rights in the country and bring to the bar of justice the culprits.

“We have instituted a task force whose primary mission is to take cognizance of all of these extrajudicial killings or alleged extrajudicial killings with the end in view of arresting every culprit regardless of whether it was a media individual, an activist, or any other individual,” the President said.

“Bottom line is, you commit a crime in our country, there has to be certainty of punishment and that is the focus,” he added, when asked about the state of human rights in the Philippines during the forum.

The President also stressed that it is not in the policy of the Aquino administration to encourage any transgressions of the law. “And towards that end, we have been investigating all of these allegations,” he said.

One of these is the case of retired Major General Jovito Palparan, who was arrested on August 12 in Sta. Mesa, Manila, by the authorities after almost three years in hiding, he said. He is facing charges for the disappearance of two students of the University of the Philippines in 2006. PND (co)

Philippines, France agree to continue addressing climate change

(PARIS, France) The Philippines and France have agreed on the need for concrete and effective results for climate talks in order to move forward efforts in dealing with the threats of climate change.

During a bilateral meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and French Republic President Francois Hollande here on Wednesday, both leaders committed to work closely to adopt a new agreement applicable to all countries during the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the Framework Convention of the United Nations on Climate Change to be hosted by France in 2015.

“Mindful of the need for rational and responsible action, the President and I talked about the threat of climate change and the need for concrete and effective results for climate talks,” President Aquino said in his statement following the meeting.

Both leaders affirmed the importance of continuing efforts to address climate change, with the overall objective of limiting the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, and reiterated the invitation to parties who are ready to do so to provide their contributions to the 2015 agreement by the end of the first quarter next year.

President Aquino and President Hollande underscored during their talks the need to push the adaptation and means of implementation in order to meet the needs and concerns of countries most vulnerable to climate change.

“We live in a single planet; and it is incumbent upon all of us—especially for the countries that have the capacity to contribute significantly to combating climate change—to come up with an equitable mechanism that every nation, every corporation and every individual will adhere to,” President Aquino said.

“Typhoon Haiyan should not be the new norm, and it is our collective responsibility, therefore, to ensure that we bequeath a safer, more inclusive, and more resilient world to the next generation,” he added.

They also discussed the focus of the work of the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) in supporting Philippine efforts in fighting climate change, helping in the protection of the environment and contributing to sustainable development programs and projects in line with the country’s development priorities.

Recalling the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2013, President Aquino expressed the appreciation of his administration and the Filipino people for the timely and generous response of the French government, non-government organizations, private companies and individuals to help the victims of the natural disaster.

On the efforts to rebuild areas devastated by the super typhoon, the two leaders expressed their common interest to continue French support for reconstruction and rehabilitation of typhoon-hit areas as determined by the Philippine government. PND (jb)

Philippines, France ink bilateral agreements to strengthen ties

PARIS, France) The Philippines and France further strengthened its bilateral relations with the signing of several agreements on transportation and communications, culture and education.

In a statement delivered after his meeting with French President François Hollande, President Benigno S. Aquino III said these agreements “will facilitate meaningful dialogue and fruitful exchanges between our two countries.”

One of these is the agreement on air services, which was signed by Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius.

President Aquino and President Hollande witnessed the signing during a simple ceremony held at the Elyseé Palace.

According to President Aquino, the air services agreement would “open more doors of opportunity for both our peoples, as we strengthen tourism, trade, business activity and our people-to-people ties.”

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the École Nationale d’Administration and the Development Academy of the Philippines, and the 2014-2017 Administrative Agreement on Cultural Cooperation.

“The agreement between the École Nationale d’Administration and the Development Academy of the Philippines looks into the establishment of training and exchanges that will benefit our many civil servants in the Philippines, as they work to provide improved services,” President Aquino said.

“In the same manner, cooperation in the cultural field will, without doubt, promote heritage conservation, language and arts training, and cultural management—areas that are of vital importance in fostering greater understanding, thus, adding to the reservoir of goodwill between our peoples,” he added.

In addition to the three bilateral agreements, the two leaders witnessed on Wednesday the signing of a contract entered into between 4G Alcatel Lucent and GLOBE Télécom for the purchase of equipment.

President Aquino and President Hollande also welcomed the forthcoming signing of the updated Philippines-France Arrangement on Defense Cooperation by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian.

“We have made significant strides as well towards updating our bilateral Defense Cooperation Agreement,” the President said. “The Philippines is in the process of modernizing our armed forces and improving our defense capability, and we believe that France will be a reliable partner in this regard,” he added. PND (co)

President Aquino meets top French firms

(PARIS, France) President Benigno Aquino III and his official delegation began a series of meetings with leading French corporations that have significant investments in the Philippines.

Upon his arrival here Wednesday, President Aquino sat down with Pierre Jaffre, executive vice president for Asia Pacific, and Pierre Lanore, vice president for Philippines Airbus, during which the two businessmen pledged to continue to actively participate in the AFP modernization program. They also offered newly-designed aircraft for disaster management.

Airbus Helicopters Philippines, Inc. has been operating in the country since 1978 as a service facility for helicopter maintenance and a training center for technicians.

Airbus also provided technical assistance to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in its successful efforts to meet the safety standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that enabled Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific to secure the lifting of the ban previously imposed by the European Union.

Airbus has also been assisting the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in promoting the Philippines as a hub for aircraft parts manufacturing and for maintenance, repair and overhaul services.

The President also met with Schneider Electric, which offered several innovations in energy conservation that could substantially cut power consumption, along with other energy solutions for various major power plant projects all over the Philippines.

Schneider has been in the Philippines since 1995 with four manufacturing facilities employing nearly 3,000 workers. It also operates a shared services center for human resources and finance.

Another company, Teleperformance, which is known in the BPO industry also met with the Chief Executive.

Daniel Julien, board chairman and founder of Teleperformance, informed the President of his company’s plans to double their existing workforce from 26,000 to 50,000, saying the Philippines is a strategic location for the companies they serve in the US, the UK and Canada, including the largest multinationals in these countries.

Julien commended the Filipino workers of Teleperformace, describing them as “in-country heroes” on account of their exemplary work ethics and well-developed skill sets.

He was joined by Allan Truitt, president for global business development, and David Rizzo, president of Asia-Pacific region. PND (jb)

Government continues to monitor prices of basic commodities, says Palace

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues to monitor the prices of basic commodities, a Palace official assured on Thursday.

“Ang Consumer Protector Group ng DTI continues to conduct their monitoring,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

She was commenting on reports that the price per kilogram of pork is now P200, and the price per kilogram of ginger is P300.

“Kapag nakikinig tayo sa radio tuwing umaga, nakikita nating bumababa ang presyo, minsan may tumataas,” she said.

Valte noted that the prices of canned sardines have increased, as most manufacturers have switched to the easy-open pull-tab cans.

“Some of the increases in the prices of canned sardines are attributed to the fact that most of the manufacturers are shifting to the easy-open cans… So, talagang tumataas daw po,” she said.

She however assured that the DTI is not letting up in monitoring the prices of commodities. PND (ag)

Philippines, France agree on peaceful settlement of South China Sea dispute

(PARIS, France) The Philippines and France have agreed on the peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
President Benigno S. Aquino III and French President François Hollande discussed peace and security in the region, particularly the increasing tension in the South China Sea, during a bilateral meeting held at the Elyseé Palace.

“As President, I believe that with these concerns come the necessity for all countries in the region to commit to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS. This is the path my nation has chosen to take,” President Aquino said.

In a joint statement, the two leaders expressed their opposition to any acquisition or claim--either by coercion or force--of any or all territory of a state by another state, in violation of international law, especially the charter of the United Nations.

“Both leaders underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability in Southeast Asia and promoting maritime security, freedom of navigation and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the joint statement read.

President Aquino and President Hollande also emphasized the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, as well as the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in fostering peace and stability in the region.

Meanwhile, President Aquino and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also met to discuss issues involving the Filipino community here in France and developments in the Philippine economy on Wednesday at the Hotel Matignon here in Paris. PND (co)

President Aquino says a foreign bank wants to globalize Philippine peso

(PARIS, France) President Benigno Aquino III said that a big foreign bank had broached the idea of globalizing the Philippine peso as a currency just like the US dollar.

During his meeting with the Filipino community in Paris Wednesday night, President Aquino told his "bosses" that such proposal only reaffirmed the strong confidence of foreign investors in the Philippine economy.

“Nagulat po ako ng ang isang bangkong malaki ang nagsabi sa atin baka dapat raw ho i-globalize na natin ang peso. Sabi ko, “Globalize the peso?” Ibig ho sabihin noon, magiging currency na parang dolyar, itene-trade ng ibang bansa,” President Aquino said.

The President said he was curious if the idea of the foreign bank was possible and had tasked Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima to look into it.

“Ang punto lang ho dito, ‘di ko akalaing may magmumungkahi sa ating gano’n kaganda na at kabango ang Pilipinas, na mayroon nang maglalagay ng kanilang puhunan sa ating salapi dahil may tiwala sa atin na may katatagan ang ating ekonomiya, ang ating bansa, at ang ating pananalapi,’ he said.

He told the Filipino community that he had attended at least 41 engagements since he started his visits to Spain, Belgium and France. The President is on his second day here and is expected to hold more business meetings with leading France-based corporations.

Aside from economic growth, the President also shared to some 700 excited Filipinos here the other reforms the Philippines has been experiencing since he assumed office in 2010.

He mentioned the fight against corruption by prosecuting all crooked public officials; curtailing illegal practices like bribery and kickbacks in government projects, which generates more savings; assisting the welfare of indigent Filipinos through the conditional cash transfer program; and creating more jobs.

The President said he was set to hold at least 40 more engagements during his visit here, Germany and the United States.

Prior to that, Aquino visited Spain and Belgium where he met with high-ranking officials, including the European Union leaders.

Aquino underscored during his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at Elysee Palace here that the Philippines was now open for business, citing economic growth of 7.2 percent.

The Philippine economy is expected to grow between 6.5 and 7 to 8 percent in 2015, the Chief Executive said. PND (jb)

Government committed to attain 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016, Palace official says

The government is taking concrete measures to make sure that the target to attract 10 million tourists by 2016 is achieved, a Palace official said on Thursday.

“We will continue to convey our assurances that we will maximize our efforts to keep protecting our friends who visit us. And also, the unfortunate incidents are being given the attention when it comes to investigation, and the appropriate police and law enforcement processes that they deserve,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Valte was commenting on reports that Cebu Pacific and Tiger Air Philippines have cancelled 149 chartered flights to and from mainland China due to the Chinese government’s advisory, warning its citizens against travelling to the Philippines.

The advisory was prompted by the recent kidnapping of a Chinese teenager who worked in a family-run store in Zamboanga and the arrest of a group of men who said they planned to attack the Chinese embassy in Manila.

“Klaruhin po natin na ‘yung sinabi po ng Cebu Pacific ay ang pagtigil ng mga chartered flights. Hindi po ‘yung mga commercial flights from Beijing to Shanghai ang pinag-uusapan dito,” said Valte.

She noted that government travel advisories affect tour operators who see a drop in the number of tour packages they are able to sell.

“Of course, the citizens are still free to come and visit us. Although nasa konsiderasyon na po nila kung gaano kabigat ang ibibigay nilang weight doon sa travel advisory or doon sa advice na ibinigay sa kanila ng kanilang pamahalaan,” said Valte.

She said the Department of Tourism is still assessing the possible impact of China’s travel advisory on the country’s tourist arrivals.

Data from the department show that tourist arrivals hit 4.68 million last year, 9.5 percent higher than the 4.27 million posted in 2012. Visitors from China totaled 426,352, making up the fourth biggest group, by the end of 2013. The department aims to attract 5 million foreign tourists by the end of this year. PND (ag)

Malacañang: U.P. is expected to promote responsibility in freedom of expression

Malacañang said on Thursday that the University of the Philippines (UP) should promote responsibility in exercising freedom of expression.

In a statement sent to members of the Malacañang Press Corps, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the report that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was “mobbed” at the state university has reached President Benigno S. Aquino III, who is on a four-nation official tour of Europe.

“(The President) believes that as the premier university, the UP is expected to promote responsibility in the exercise of the freedom of expression and civility while engaging in political discourse,” said Coloma.

“This may be an opportune time to reassess the implications to an institution of higher learning when a political forum degenerates into mob rule,” he added.

A group of student activists reportedly mobbed Abad after he discussed the Disbursement Acceleration Program and the 2015 National Budget during a forum at the School of Economics in UP Diliman on Wednesday. PND (ag)