Tuesday, 16 September 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

President Aquino thanks Spain Prime Minister Rajoy for disaster aid

MADRID, Spain) President Benigno Aquino III has expressed gratitude to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for consistently providing help to the Philippines in times of crisis, especially during natural disasters.

In their bilateral meeting at the Palacio de la Moncloa here on Monday, President Aquino thanked the Prime Minister and the people of Spain for the generous assistance they have extended to victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) has caused massive damage to Central Visayas in November last year, killing over 5,000 people and leaving thousands other homeless and unemployed.

President Aquino invited the Spanish government to become part of the Philippine efforts to “build back better” typhoon-hit areas, including Tacloban in Leyte.

The Chief Executive emphasized that the country is open to development partnerships, either with the public or private sector.

The President likewise thanked Prime Minister Rajoy for the assistance his country extended when a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the provinces of Bohol and Cebu in October 2013.

He also expressed appreciation for Spain’s substantial donation to the victims of the standoff in Zamboanga City between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front.

The President flew to Brussels, Belgium after sitting down with Prime Minister Rajoy. PND (jb)

President Aquino arrives in Belgium to meet with leaders of EC and Belgium

BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno Aquino III and his official delegation arrived here this afternoon for a series of meetings with leaders of the European Commission and Belgium.

President Aquino will kick off his three-day visit in Brussels with a meeting with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to tackle various issues, including the West Philippine Sea and bilateral trade and relations.

The President is also scheduled to meet with His Majesty King Philippe of Kingdom of Belgium to seek support for the Philippines’ application for the Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) and discuss ways to combat illegal fishing, improve the welfare of seafarers. He will also update King Philippe on the progress of the ongoing peace process in Mindanao.

A meeting with members of the Filipino community from Belgium and Luxembourg to be held at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is in the agenda of the President while in Brussels.

There are about 6,000 Filipinos living in Belgium according to recent data of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

On his second day in Belgium, the President is also expected to meet with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at the European Council headquarters and sit down with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo at the latter’s official residence in the Belgian capital.

The President is also scheduled to give a keynote address during the Private-Public Partnership Infrastructure Conference and hold meetings with several multinational companies.

He will also deliver a policy speech at Egmont Institute to mark the 50th anniversary of the Philippines and European Union relations.

President Aquino just came from Spain following a successful visit. After Belgium, the Chief Executive will fly to Paris, France. PND (jb)

European Union backs Aquino administration's peace initiatives in Mindanao

BRUSSELS, Belgium) European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso lauded President Benigno S. Aquino III’s initiatives to bring lasting peace in Mindanao.

“I congratulated President Aquino for his efforts to bring peace, stability and development to the Philippines of which the successful accomplishment of the Mindanao peace negotiations and signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro is a good example,” said President Barroso in speech following his meeting with President Aquino at the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels.

“In particular, I have congratulated President Aquino for the submission of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to the Philippines Congress on the 10th of this month. This is a welcomed positive step forward in the overall effort in bringing lasting peace to people in Mindanao,” President Barroso added.

At the same time, President Barroso pledged that the EU will continue its support and assistance for the Mindanao peace plan.

“The European Union is also supporting peace and development in Mindanao, in complement to the Government's efforts, through various development projects worth 106 million euros. And I assured the President of our continued support and assistance in this effort,” President Barroso said.

The EU’s support came after Spain also backed the steps taken by President Aquino aimed at further forwarding the peace initiative in southern Philippines, during a meeting between the Chief Executive and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at Palacio de la Moncloa in Madrid.

During the bilateral meeting of the Philippine and Spanish leaders, President Aquino conveyed the country’s gratitude for Spain’s support for the Mindanao peace plan.

“We also value the insights on the existing Autonomous Communities in Spain gained through the study visits of our delegates to your country. This will help our government officials and legislators who will be involved in the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity,” the President said.

“We hope that Spain will continue to be our partner in the development of Mindanao,” he added.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front was signed on March 27 this year.

On September 10, President Aquino turned over the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. PND (co)

Aquino thanks the European Union for assistance after 'Typhoon Haiyan'

BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno S. Aquino III conveyed his appreciation to the European Union for its assistance in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

In his meeting with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, President Aquino reiterated the “profound appreciation of the Filipino people for the solidarity that the European Union has demonstrated.”

“The overwhelming humanitarian assistance of the European Union represents a great contribution to our national recovery and reconstruction efforts,” the President said during the joint press conference that followed his bilateral talks with President Barroso.

“Then as now, our partnership has served as a concrete reminder of what can be achieved through cooperation and positive engagement. This is the context in which President Barroso and I reaffirmed the enduring and meaningful relations between the Philippines and the European Union,” he added.

The meeting between the two leaders was held shortly after President Aquino arrived here for the second leg of his four-nation European trip. His visit marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine Embassy in Belgium. PND (co)

European Commission praises Philippines for remarkable economic performance

BRUSSELS, Belgium) European Commission President José Manuel Barroso congratulated President Benigno Aquino III for the remarkable economic performance of the Philippine economy under his leadership.

President Barroso conveyed his congratulations to President Aquino during their meeting held at the European Union Headquarters in the Belgian capital, and said that economic reforms must continue to further advance the competitiveness of the Philippines.

“I also congratulated the President on the remarkable economic performance of the Philippines. At the same time, economic reforms need to continue to increase the competitiveness and productivity of the country,” Barroso said.

“Europe can be a partner in this process, too. Our PCA (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement), which was signed in 2012, has allowed for an enhanced cooperation in several priority areas,” he added.

Barroso said the European Union and the Philippines are becoming more important to each other in terms of trade and investment rankings.

“Our trade exchanges in 2013 and 2014 were the largest in a decade,” he told a joint press conference.

President Barroso said the European Union is the Philippines’ third largest trading partner, as well as the largest foreign investor in the country.

European Union is also looking forward to working together with the Philippines to further strengthen trade and investment ties, he added.

Moreover, Barroso and President Aquino also discussed the European Union and Asia relations during their talks on Monday afternoon (Brussels time).

Barroso said the European Union actively supports regional integration through the ASEAN and committed to forging a strong relationship with the whole region. PND (co)

Aquino to address U.N. climate summit, meet with Filipino community during U.S. visit

President Benigno S. Aquino III will address a United Nations climate summit, speak to American businessmen, and meet with the Filipino community when he visits the United States from September 20 to 24.

“As in all of the President’s trips abroad, the primary objectives of the visit will be to continue to project the Philippines as an emerging economy and investment destination in Asia; to promote the country as having an economy with sound credentials built on the back of good governance principles; and to highlight the country’s role as an archipelagic and maritime nation with key advocacies in maritime security, maritime safety, promotion and growth of the blue economy and sustainable development,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
The President will arrive in Boston, Massachusetts on the evening of September 20 from Berlin.

Having spent many years in Boston, he will visit old friends, Austria said, adding that he will be honored at Boston College on September 21, and while there, he will meet with some scholars of the Benigno and Corazon Aquino Scholarship Foundation.

He will then attend a reception with members of the Filipino-American community in the New York-Boston area.

On September 22, the President will meet with Representative Joseph Kennedy III (4th District, Massachusetts), who visited the Philippines recently and invited the President for a meeting when he visits Boston.

Later in the afternoon, the President will receive three big American companies, and this will be followed by an interview with the National Public Radio station, according to Austria.

He will then deliver a policy speech at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and then proceed to New York.

While in New York, the President will have a series of media interviews with major print and television companies, Austria said.

After that, the President will join other world leaders for the UN Climate Change Summit at the UN Headquarters.

After this, he will have a business roundtable with the US Chamber of Commerce, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the US-Philippines Society.

Later in the afternoon, the President will speak at the World Leaders Forum of Columbia University, and have a coffee meeting with the media.

On September 24, the President will depart New York for San Francisco.

“This was supposedly only a technical stop but we have had requests from big business companies to meet with the President. So we have arranged for at least two business meetings in San Francisco,” Austria said.

He then leaves for Manila and arrive on the evening of Thursday, September 25.

The President is currently on a four-nation tour of Europe, visiting Spain and Belgium. He will then proceed to France and Germany, his last stop in Europe. PND (as)

President Aquino declares observance of 'Eidul Adha' on October 6 as regular holiday

President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared Monday, October 6 as a regular holiday in observance of Eidul Adha or the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice.

The President signed on September 12 Proclamation No. 875 on the observance of Eidul Adha, one of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide.

Eidul Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to follow God’s command to sacrifice his son.

The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos has recommended that Eidul Adha be observed on October 6, the date set by Saudi Arabia’s highest religious body.

The dates of the observance of the Muslim festivals of Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha are declared separately from other national holidays, as the government has to wait for the recommendation of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos. PND (ag)

President Aquino to highlight West Philippine Sea issue during U.S. visit

President Benigno S. Aquino III will advance the country's interest in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when he meets with global leaders and organizations while in the United States on September 20 to 24, a foreign affairs official said during a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday.

Asked if the President will talk about the West Philippine Sea at the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria said, "That is one of the advocacies that he will be carrying in all his meetings, basically, to say why it is important for the world community to support our endeavor in ensuring that the rule of law is carried specifically in the West Philippine Sea."

The Philippines is one of several countries laying claim to the West Philippine Sea, an area believed to be rich in mineral and fishery resources and which serves as a major sea lane for global trade and commerce.

The country has filed an arbitration case at the International Arbitral Tribunal, asking China to clarify its claims on the West Philippine Sea.

Asked about the possibility of a meeting between President Aquino and US President Barack Obama, as well as other leaders, Austria said no such meeting has been arranged but it is possible that they meet at the corridors of the United Nations Headquarters.

The practice in the UN is that leaders come and deliver their remarks, she said.

"As of now, there are no arranged meetings. But, of course, there’s always the possibility of chance meetings when they meet each other in the corridors of the UN," Austria said. PND (as)

President Aquino says measures in place to fight illegal fishing

(BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno S. Aquino III assured on Monday the European Union that the Philippines is actively taking steps to combat and stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF).

President Aquino issued the assurance to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso during their meeting at the European Commission headquarters here in Brussels.

To show that the Philippines is serious about curbing IUUF, President Aquino said relevant agencies have been coordinating with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to address the matter.

The President also said that his administration even adopted last year the National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing.

“Our relevant agencies, particularly the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, have been in close coordination with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to address the matter,” he said.

“In addition to this, last year, the National Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing was adopted by our administration,” he added.

As to the Philippines’ compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), the government is working closely with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.

“We have already laid the groundwork for an effective and sustainable regulatory system consistent with the STCW Convention,” the President said in a joint press conference after his meeting with the European Commission head.

President Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10635 that established the Maritime Industry Authority as the sole maritime administration authority to implement and enforce the Convention. PND (co)

President Aquino signs Executive Order to ease congestion in Port of Manila

President Benigno S. Aquino III has signed an executive order that aims to ease the congestion at the Port of Manila, a Palace official announced on Tuesday.

The President signed on September 13 Executive Order (EO) No. 172, declaring the Port of Batangas and Subic Bay Freeport as extensions of the Port of Manila during port congestion and other emergency cases, Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during the daily press briefing in Malacañang,

“It is no secret to most of you that we have a problem with port congestion and, as the EO discusses, it is one of the major factors that hinder the free flow of goods and services passing through the ports,” said Valte.

She explained that under EO 172, foreign vessels bound for or leaving the Port of Manila may be directed to berth either at the Port of Batangas or the Subic Bay Freeport, and this will be considered as berthing at the Port of Manila.

All rules and regulations being enforced at the Port of Batangas or the Subic Bay Freeport, including berthing and other port fees, shall apply to foreign vessels directed to berth there, she added.

According to the EO, the extension of the Port of Manila shall be lifted once the situation in the port has returned to normal, as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications. PND (ag)

President Aquino: Let's focus on duties, not politics

(BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno Aquino III said his administration will not be distracted by the early political campaigning that has started for the 2016 presidential elections, saying his mandate is to carry out his duties until his last day in office.

In his speech before some 600 Filipinos from Belgium and Luxembourg at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula Monday, President Aquino said he has instructed his Cabinet before he left for his Europe trip to continue focusing on addressing the issues confronting the country.

“You know in our country, noise about the incoming 2016 elections has already begun... But I will assure you: we, who have been given a mandate, will not be swayed by political issues,” he said.

Early political campaigning, he said, will not solve a host of problems the country is facing.

“Before I left, I made sure that our allies focus on their duties and responsibilities, and I gave a directive to address issues such as the traffic caused by port congestion, energy shortage issue, El Niño, and the continuing increase in demand as our country’s economy continues to grow,” he said.

In the past, the Chief Executive called on those engaging in early campaigning to put their duties and obligations first before politics.

He said the administration still has one-and-a-half years to serve the people and the government should continue to make great strides in improving the economy and the welfare of the people.

The President has yet to choose the administration candidate for the 2016 presidential elections. PND (jb)

President Aquino reports to his 'bosses,' cites gains from reforms

(BRUSSELS, Belgium) President Benigno Aquino III met with the Filipino community here on Monday and told his “bosses” of the progress the Philippines has achieved because of the reforms that his administration has put in place.

The President, who always refers to his constituents as his bosses, reported to some 600 Filipinos from Belgium and Luxembourg, at the magnificent St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral at Treurenberg Hill, that his reform agenda is making inroads in improving the economy and fighting corruption.

One of the key achievements of the Aquino administration, he said, is the lifting of the European Union’s ban on Philippine airline carriers after complying with global aviation safety standards.

Aquino said Philippine Airlines was allowed to fly to Europe again in July 2013, while Cebu Pacific was finally given the go-signal to service the route last April.

“Now, it will be easier and more convenient for our OFWs and tourists to fly to and from the Philippines,” he said.

The President also told the Filipino community that economic reforms have started to pay off, citing the rise in global competitiveness ranking and upgrade in investment grade rating by three major global rating firms of the Philippines.

Since this administration came into office, the Chief Executive said, it has been making headway in the fight against graft and corruption like the filing of cases against people allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam.

He also noted that the government’s agenda of transparency and accountability has resulted in millions of pesos in savings from various government agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways. These savings, the President added, provided funds to build more classrooms and expand the healthcare plan for the Filipino people under PhilHealth.

In the quest for lasting peace in Mindanao, President Aquino told the Filipino community that the government has turned over the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to leaders of Congress last September 10 for appropriate action.

“We will not stop in pushing for comprehensive transformation of our society. With our collective effort, we made the impossible possible,” President Aquino said. PND (jb)