President Aquino calls for more aggressive global effort to address climate change
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III called for a global coordinated effort to address climate change noting that with the changing climate, both big and small nations become vulnerable to its ill effects.
"The choice before us, then, is clear: Together we must face these challenges and surmount them, or together we will suffer the consequences of inaction," the President said in his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on Tuesday at the UN headquarters here.
Nations should not engage in another protracted debate over the individual commitments of countries, he said adding it would be a wrong framework to address the issue.
"Instead, everyone here has to do everything they can to address climate change, without first waiting for their neighbors to engage in action," he said. "Doing anything less leaves the problem unattended, too, thereby increasing the problem we all face."
Although not a major emitter, the Philippines is not waiting for other nations to act first, he said.
The country has been addressing climate change to the maximum with its limited resources. Legislation has been enacted to lessen the impact of disasters by adopting a comprehensive approach to disaster response, the President said.
The government has also improved its weather forecasting so that it could send timely warnings to vulnerable communities.
For national and local authorities and residents, the government has undertaken multi-hazard and geohazard mapping, which is integral to the effective assessment of risks, according to the President.
It is also carrying out a massive national re-greening program and intensified the crackdown on anti-illegal logging activities.
At the same time, the government also started tagging public expenditure on climate change to ensure that the appropriate prioritization and allocation of funds is achieved, he said.
To reduce the impact of disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable Filipinos, the government engaged other stakeholders in developing a disaster risk financing and insurance policy framework.
"Perhaps the international community may see the value of such an instrument, and look at it as a model to increase the financial resiliency of other nations in a similar situation to ours," the President said.
The Philippines also has to continue to take steps to maintain and even improve the country's low-emission development strategy and the trajectory of its energy mix, the President noted.
"And we are hopeful that our fellow developing nations, especially those who have been gaining the economic wherewithal to pursue similar strategies, will tread a path akin to ours," he added.
Although less industrialized, the Philippines never lacked the resolve with regards to transitioning towards less traditional sources of energy, the President said.
What is lacking is the country's access to technology, financing, and investment that would allow it to accelerate its strategy, the President noted, believing however that the real challenge is to innovate in the transfer of useful technology and the building of climate-smart infrastructure.
Climate change does not recognize national boundaries, or political or economic affiliations, according to the President. The chief executive cited the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda that hit the country last year. PND (as)
President Aquino urges U.S. business groups to explore investment opportunities in the Philippines
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday urged prospective investors here to take advantage of new business opportunities the Philippines is ready to offer in light of its improved economy and especially since it is poised to hit the so called ‘demographic sweet spot’ by next year.
“According to the projections of the United Nations, the majority of our people will reach working age next year, which means that there will be an abundance of talent and creativity in the workforce, ready to spur your businesses to success,” President Aquino told a business roundtable with chief executive officers and other senior officials from the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-ASEAN Business Council here.
"It is indeed my hope that all of you have come here with the determination to build on your success in the Philippines or to explore new avenues in pursuit of the same."
President Aquino relayed to business executives all the good news about the Philippines recently, including the consecutive upgrades it received from major credit rating agencies, and its improved ranking in the World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report.
This is on top of the key industries that continue to grow particularly the Information Technology-Business Process Management, which, according to the President, remains one of the strongest sectors, recording a 6.6-billion dollar increase in revenues from 8.9-billion dollars in 2010, to 15.5-billion dollars in 2013.
“Manufacturing has completely rebounded with growth accelerating from 5.4 percent in 2012 to 10.3 percent in 2013. This is not to mention the other sectors worthy of note, including tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure,” he added.
President Aquino attributed all these positive developments to good governance and better fiscal management his administration consistently practiced the past four years, assuring all potential investors the reforms they have implemented will continue.
“Our commitment to institute good governance and fight corruption has not flagged. We continue to implement reforms in order to ensure a significant return on each peso we spend for government’s programs and projects. Massive investments into social services continue, so that Filipinos are empowered to become active participants in building our economy, and the nation, as well,” he said. PND (hdc)
Filipinos will always emerge strong despite challenges, says President Aquino
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he believes Filipinos will continue to overcome any adversity, given their extraordinary spirit.
In his speech during the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here, President Aquino said challenges will continue to come, but Filipinos will continue to rise and emerge better.
When confronted with disaster, the current government’s mindset is not just on rebuilding but how to build back better, he said.
And as reforms begin to be realized, the President said his administration is thinking how to make these changes permanent.
"My entire life, I have witnessed my people do incredible things: they resisted the dictatorship, drove a peaceful revolution that captured the imagination of the world, stood firmly and often against tyranny and corruption whenever they reared their ugly heads, and worked tirelessly to put our country back on the map," he told the students and faculty of the university.
He noted that for so long, Filipinos have endured the tyranny of self-serving administrations and the indifference of the world, but the country, once an often-overlooked archipelago in the Pacific, is poised to remain in the global spotlight.
This is proof of what a mobilized citizenry and a government of integrity are capable of achieving, he said.
The President cited the reforms initiated by his administration, including those in fighting corruption, improving the education system and health care, and the Mindanao peace process.
He also reported on the economic developments in the country, the positive credit ratings upgrades given to the Philippines, and the government's initiatives for better weather forecasting.
Established in 2003 by Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, the World Leaders Forum is a year-round event series that seeks to advance robust, uninhibited dialogue on the significant economic, political, and social questions of the present time.
The forum has already featured former presidents Bill Clinton of the United States, Mary Robinson of Ireland, and Nicolas Sarkozy of France, as well as the Dalai Lama. PND (as)
President Aquino: Government determined to address extrajudicial killings
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his administration’s seriousness in addressing extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The government is not after merely identifying the assailants but focuses on convicting the murderers, President Aquino told students and faculty during the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.
"There has to be certainty of punishment for all of these things that happened. And they (Department of Justice) have, in turn, secured quite a number of convictions for those involved in extralegal killings," he said.
He further said that the government is making efforts to train Filipino policemen to improve their forensic capabilities, refine the witness protection program, and hold government officials accountable for the protection of the rights of every citizen.
The problem is the very lengthy process in litigating cases under the Philippine judicial system, the President said, citing as an example the Maguindanao massacre, where more than 100 suspects have to be investigated and arraigned in court.
The government does not want to perform quick justice because it would be accused of violating the rights of the suspects, he added.
But the main point is that a killing is a killing and it is a violation of the law, he said, emphasizing that regardless of who did it and why he did it, there has to be penalties under the law.
President Aquino acknowledged that despite some drawbacks, the government has also scored several successes in terms of convictions and it will continue to strive for equal justice to everyone. PND (as)
President Aquino optimistic on passage of draft Bangsamoro Basic Law
(NEW YORK, New York) President Aquino has expressed confidence that the bill on the Bangsamoro would be passed, saying that any politician who fails to support the legislation would suffer in the ballot box come election time.
During the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday, the President was asked what would happen if legislators refuse to support his peace initiatives in Mindanao.
He said it would be a serious setback if Congress does not approve the bill.
He however noted that anyone who would oppose the proposal would lose popularity among the voters.
There will be grandstanding, he said, but at the end of the day, those who would oppose it would be labeled as anti-peace.
"I don’t think any politician would want to be labeled as anti-peace, specifically in that portion of the country, which has had the misfortune of having this long-running insurgency dating from the late 1960s, which has claimed so many lives," he said.
The President further expressed hope that government resources devoted to the Bangsamoro under his administration would improve the living conditions of the people in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.
The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro in March this year.
Prior to the President's European and US trips, he forwarded the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law to Congress for deliberation.
The President has vowed to push for the conduct of a fair and democratic election in Mindanao in 2016, once the bill is approved by Congress and becomes a law. PND (as)
Philippines hopeful of international tribunal's resolution on West Philippine Sea
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he expects the international arbitral tribunal to issue a resolution on the country's claim in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to achieve regional stability and prosperity.
A ruling from the tribunal will create an environment that could bring about prosperity for all and in the region, the President told students and faculty who attended the Columbia University World Leaders Forum here Tuesday.
"It is difficult to give up sovereignty by any state," President Aquino said. "That is why we have brought the case before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea precisely to determine whose definitions and interpretations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are correct."
Perhaps, the Philippines is not totally wrong, or the country is not totally correct and maybe it is the same case with the other side, he said.
"At the end of the day, when there is a clear understanding accepted by all parties, then the tension should be managed better than it is now, where everything is so undefined and subject to so many conflicting claims that are, in a sense, irreconcilable with each other," he noted.
He however said that although there are conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea, the issue is not the totality of the relations between the Philippines and China.
In fact, the President said, when he visited China in 2011, then Chinese President Hu Jintao also stated that this should not be the basis for the overall relations between the two countries.
This is true until now, he said, adding that in 2011, investments by Philippine companies in China were estimated at $2.5 billion, while investments by Chinese companies in the Philippines amounted to about $600 million.
In terms of tourism, Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines number about 200,000 every year, while Filipinos going to China reach 800,000 tourists annually.
“There is really room for prosperity for both and a natural affinity in a sense for both," President Aquino said, adding that it is his obligation under the Constitution to defend the country's rights and sovereignty. PND (as)
Nearly 20 American companies looking to invest in the Philippines
(NEW YORK, New York) Close to 20 American companies have expressed interest in investing or expanding to the Philippines as a result of President Benigno S. Aquino III's trip to the United States.
In a media interview here Tuesday, President Aquino mentioned the number of companies that are planning to do business in the Philippines but did not name them out of concern it might violate their securities and exchange code.
The President mentioned a company with investment in one location and employs 600,000 workers.
"Nagbabalak siyang itayo ang something similar sa Pilipinas. Naghahanap ng mga partner niya na makakatulong sa pagtatayo nga nitong production facility para sa kanyang mga produkto," the President said.
The company, worth several billions of dollars, appears to be an industry leader, he said.
He said that when he goes to San Francisco on Wednesday, he will meet with two other companies that want to put their money in the Philippines.
San Francisco will be the President's last stop in his five-day visit to the US before returning to Manila on Wednesday. PND (as)
President Aquino untroubled by hecklers
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said the hecklers who appeared in separate forums he recently attended did not bother him at all, since people like them are always found in a democratic society.
President Aquino even indicated that he is open to having a dialogue with them, provided they keep an open mind so they could arrive at an understanding.
“Sa lahat ng usapan, may ‘thesis’, ‘yon namang kontra doon, may ‘antithesis’, baka ‘pag nag-usap kayo magkaroon ng ‘synthesis’ at ako naniniwala ako doon,” he told members of the Philippine media in an interview held Tuesday evening at the Omni Berkshire Place here.
Unidentified individuals rudely interrupted President Aquino while he was in the middle of answering legitimate questions from students during the World Leaders Forum at the Columbia University.
The President dealt with a similar incident at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government last Monday, when a man tried to engage him in a debate regarding the administration’s purchase of weapons.
“Sanay naman tayo doon. In the guise of magtatanong, magtatalumpati… Ngayon, kung sana mayroon talagang tanong, maganda sanang sagutin. Siyempre, ang pangangailangan noon, pareho kayong bukas ang kaisipan para may diyalogo kayong mapapala,” he said.
He added that these relatively inconsequential matters are not enough to make him upset.
“Maski ano naman ang sabihin doon, ‘di ba, meron din naman silang sasabihin tungkol doon. Sa akin lang, tuloy akong magtatrabaho. Hinaharap ko ang sarili ko sa salamin bago ako matulog ...na nagawa ko na lahat ng magagawa ko. Dapat naman may konting kakuntentohan lang doon, tapos kinabukasan kayod ulit,” the President said. PND (hdc)
Palace clarifies President Aquino’s affiliation with new Clark Airport chief
Malacañang on Wednesday clarified that newly appointed president and chief executive officer of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) Emigdio Tanjuatco III is President Benigno S. Aquino III’s sixth-degree cousin.
“He (Tanjuatco) is beyond the fourth degree of consanguinity, sixth (degree) na siya, ang layo na. Ang prohibition ng batas is until fourth degree of consanguinity… sixth degree na siya, so walang prohibition doon,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters during the daily press briefing at the Palace.
Lacierda was reacting to reports that the President had committed nepotism when he appointed Tanjuatco.
“I disagree with that… I was hearing about lack of aviation experience. Just for the record, the CIAC does not determine aviation policy. It is the CAAP (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines) that determines aviation policies and regulations,” he said, adding that Tanjuatco is a lawyer and has corporate experience.
Tanjuatco’s appointment letter was signed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. last August 27. He will serve as president and CEO, as well as member of CIAC’s Board of Directors until June 30, 2015.
He replaced Victor Jose Luciano, who was appointed as member of the Civil Aeronautics Board under the Department of Transportation and Communications. PND (ag)
Marcos' Libingan ng mga Bayani burial must be justified, says President Aquino
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III said he won't support moves to bury former strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani because he can't justify to the people the reason why the dictator should be rested there.
Asked by reporters in a media interview here on Tuesday, the President said, "Siguro, ganito na lang ang sagot ko: Kung bibigyan ako ng authority, hindi ako magvo-volunteer na sumagot bakit dapat ilibing doon, wala sa kakayahan kong ipaliwanag sa taumbayan kung bakit dapat siyang bigyan ng ganoong karangalan."
There will be questions on legitimacy if Marcos is buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani since Marcos usurped his authority.
He said Marcos should have stepped down in 1973 after serving two terms but he instead declared Martial law in September 1972 to prolong his stay in power.
Marcos' stay in Malacañang after 1973 is no longer legitimate under the laws during that time, he said, when Marcos extended his term in office for around 13 years until he was ousted in 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.
"Kaya ang tanong: Kung may karapatan siya bilang pangulong lehitimo, hindi ba natabunan noong pagiging pangulo niya na hindi na lehitimo, itong 13 years?" the President asked.
"Kasi ang Libingan ng mga Bayani isang karangalan para sa mga dating talagang naglingkod sa bayan," he stressed.
There are also questions on the war merits of Marcos, he said. Marcos claimed he received recognitions for being a war hero during World War II, but some question the authenticity of the medals he received.
The Libingan ng mga Bayani is a symbol of gallantry and selfless dedication to serve the country and anybody being buried there should not be questioned on their right to be rested there, according to the President.
The Aquino family was a victim of Marcos' martial rule, compelling it to live in exile in Boston, Massachusetts from 1980 to 1983.
Former senator Benigno Aquino Jr, the President's father, was assassinated after arriving in the Philippines on August 21, 1983. Aquino's death however culminated in mass protest actions that eventually brought down the Marcos dictatorship. PND (as)
President Aquino opts to wait for details before rendering judgment on embattled PNP chief
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III opted not to prejudge embattled Philippine National Police (PNP) chief director general Alan Purisima and would rather wait for details of the complaints filed against him so he could render an accurate judgment.
In an interview with members of the Philippine media delegation at the Omni Berkshire Place Tuesday evening, President Aquino also mentioned that Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is capable of handling the issue.
“I would like to see the details so that we can render an accurate judgment… But the PNP is in the capable hands of Secretary (Mar) Roxas and I’m sure he’ll get to the bottom of this,” he said.
Purisima is currently embroiled in graft and corruption charges following a complaint from a consumer rights group questioning his alleged unexplained wealth.
On a personal note, however, President Aquino told reporters he knew Purisima as someone who would not indulge himself over luxurious things given all the hardships he had been through in the past.
The two have known each other since 1987 when the PNP chief became part of the Presidential Security Group during the administration of President Aquino’s mother.
“Sa pagkakakillala ko kay Alan talagang… Alam niyo, for instance, kadete pa lang siya nabiktima siya ng hazing. At ang pagkabiktima (sa kanya), muntik na siyang mamatay actually,” President Aquino said.
“Pwede naman siyang, ‘di ba, maghinagpis doon sa mga gumawa sa kanya nito. Pero ‘nung nakilala ko siya in the ’87—or probably in ’86 pero ’87 ko talaga siya nakilala nang masinsinan—and from that time to the present, hindi ko nakita itong taong ito na maluho, o matakaw,” he added. PND (hdc)
President Aquino reminisces beautiful memories with his father during Boston visit
(NEW YORK, New York) President Benigno S. Aquino III reminisced about the beautiful memories he had with his father, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., during his short visit at their humble home while he was in Boston.
Boston was President Aquino’s first stop in his five-day US trip, which began Saturday (September 20). He had business meetings there and held speaking engagements at Boston College and Harvard University.
President Aquino admitted becoming nostalgic the moment he stepped inside the house at 175 Commonwealth Avenue in Chestnut Hill after 31 years. It is where he and his family stayed while in exile from 1980-1983.
“It’s the first time I have gone back to Boston since my father’s assassination. Nakadalaw tayo doon sa bahay na tinuluyan namin dati… Aaminin ko sa inyo, ‘nung pagpasok ko sa bawat parte, parang mavi-visualize mo ano ba ang ginagawa ninyo dito (noon),” President Aquino told the Philippine media delegation with him Tuesday evening.
President Aquino recalled the fond memories he had with his father, including the first time he tried to build a snowman, which the elder Aquino decorated using personal belongings during the dead of winter.
“‘Yung snowman ko malnourished… Ewan ko kung marunong kayo gumawa ng snowman pero nagmarunong na lang ako. Dumating ‘yung tatay ko, nakita niya snow lang e, so kumuha siya ng dahon; nilagyan ng mata; nilagyan ng bunganga. May nagregalo sa kanya ng scarf na hindi niya masyadong type, isinuot niya kay snowman,” he told reporters.
President Aquino said it was ‘nice’ to remember all those times, though it was also filled with pain and sadness, recalling the day he learned about the news of his father’s assassination.
The hardships that he and his family had been through during the brutal years of Martial Law became a running theme in all of President Aquino’s speeches for the students of Boston College, Harvard University, and Columbia University.
“It’s nice to remember all those times dahil tayo nga ay may kasabihan: Para makarating sa paroroonan, kailangan lumingon sa pinanggalingan. Ito ang isa sa mga punto kung saan ako nahubog,” he said. PND (hdc)