07 Apr 2016

Prince Albert II of Monaco attends wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Monument
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco on Thursday attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park.

Prince Albert II was joined by Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada during the ceremony. Mayor Estrada also handed the visiting royal the symbolic key to the city.After the wreath-laying ceremony, Prince Albert II proceeded to Malacañang Palace, where he was welcomed by President Benigno S. Aquino III.The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral issues, such as economic cooperation, humanitarian assistance, sustainable development, and environmental protection.

The royalty is also scheduled to attend a luncheon, to be hosted by President Aquino in his honor, before leaving for Palawan later in the afternoon to visit the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prince Albert II, who arrived on Wednesday night at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City for a two-day official visit, is the son of the late Prince Rainier III, and the late American actress Grace Kelly.

The 58-year-old prince has ruled the tiny principality of Monaco since Prince Rainier’s death in 2005. He is also an advocate of strengthening marine environmental protection. In June 2006, he set up the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation dedicated to protecting the environment.

Prince Albert II, a member of Monaco’s national bobsleigh team, had competed in five consecutive Winter Olympic Games. He married former South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock in July 2011. Their twins Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier were born in December 2014. PND (jm)

Phl, Monaco sign agreement to strengthen economic, scientific cooperations
President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prince Albert II of Monaco on Thursday witnessed the signing of the Philippines-Monaco Framework Agreement for Cooperation that will form the basis for future cooperation between the two countries.

The Agreement, which covers such areas of cooperation as economic, scientific, humanitarian, and disaster risk reduction and management partnership and environmental protection, was signed in Malacañang Palace by Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras for the Philippines and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Gilles Tonelli for the principality of Monaco.

In his press statement, President Aquino said he and Prince Albert II exchanged views on a number of bilateral and global issues during their meeting.

“We are one in agreeing on the need to further expand cooperation in areas of mutual concern, with the signing of the Framework Agreement for Cooperation a concrete manifestation of this,” he said.

“The agreement will establish a firm foundation upon which further growth in our relations can be achieved, particularly in the areas of economic, scientific, and humanitarian partnerships, and of course environmental protection,” he added.

The President noted that despite the relatively small size of both nations, the Philippines and Monaco have been advocates of climate risk mitigation and were actively involved in negotiations in crafting the Paris Agreement.

He said he also took the opportunity to relate the Philippines’ progress in its contribution to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement.

President Aquino meanwhile expressed hope that Prince Albert would enjoy and learn from his visit to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on Thursday afternoon.

“We likewise hope that, after your visit, you will fully understand why we assert that it’s more fun in the Philippines,” he said.

“Looking forward, I am confident that our bilateral relations will continue to grow and flourish, in light of our commitment to build upon the friendship, cooperation, and solidarity between our peoples,” the President said. PND (as)

Prince Albert II of Monaco praises Filipino hospitality
His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco has thanked President Benigno S. Aquino III for the warm welcome accorded to him and the members of his delegation upon their arrival in the Philippines on Wednesday.

“It is with great pleasure that I responded to this kind invitation and today am making my first official visit as Head of State of the Principality of Monaco to the Republic of the Philippines,” Prince Albert II said in a press statement he delivered in Malacañang Palace on Thursday.

He described his discussions with President Aquino as rich, productive and helpful in bringing the two countries closer.

“In this spirit, I express to President Aquino the full availability of the various authorities of my country to welcome Philippine delegations to the Principality in order to deepen the relations between our two countries in domains such as economic, scientific, environmental protection and the diminution of natural catastrophic risks. These exchanges could further seal the friendship between our two countries,” he said.According to the visiting monarch, he and President Aquino shared and discussed the problems faced by both nations, and agreed on a wider cooperation in environmental matters “for future generations and the preservation of our planet based on a sustainable development model”.

He pointed out that they discussed the necessary concerted actions at the international level to achieve these goals.

He further noted that he has the opportunity to visit the Tubbataha Reefs, which he referred to as an “extraordinary marine biodiversity that must be protected by all means”.

Prince Albert II arrived in Malacañang Palace at 10:30 a.m. and was given military honors.

He and President Aquino had a bilateral meeting and later witnessed the signing of the Philippines-Monaco Framework Agreement for Cooperation, which will become the basis for future cooperation between the two countries. PND (as)

President Aquino hosts state luncheon in honor of Monaco’s Prince Albert II
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday hosted a state luncheon at the Malacanang Palace in honor of Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is in Manila for a two-day official visit. In his toast during the state luncheon, President Aquino noted that over the years, Prince Albert II and other members of the Monegasque Royal Family have become close friends of the Filipino people.

He recalled that more than 16 years ago, Filipinos welcomed the Prince during his previous visit to the Philippines. They also welcomed Caroline, Princess of Hanover, in 2004, and his eldest nephew Andrea in 2006.

“Our people’s repeated interaction with the Monegasque Royal Family are enduring symbols of a friendship that goes beyond diplomacy,” the President said.

“In fact, even before our diplomatic relations were formally established, you have been helping Filipinos through AMADE (Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance or World Association of Children’s Friends), assisting victims of child abuse and exploitation and funding critical research for various illnesses.”

The people of Monaco, he said, have always come through for the Filipino people in times of need, extending help in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas.

Although a small country, Monaco committed several hundred thousand euros to help those affected by the super typhoon, helped prevent epidemics and rebuild infrastructure, he said, thanking the people of Monaco for their assistance.

“The fellowship of nations has never been based on size, power, or influence. It has always been about our willingness to reach out to our brothers and sisters from other nations: to strengthen our ties with one another as we seek to build a better future for all peoples,” the President said.

“Monaco may be far away, and it may be a relatively small country, but you reached out to the Philippines; you have made your kindness felt; and you will always be welcome on our shores.”

In response, the visiting monarch extended his heartfelt thanks for the hospitality accorded to him and the members of his delegation.

He said he looks forward to building stronger ties between the two countries through a recently signed agreement seeking greater collaboration concerning the economy, culture and humanitarian, environmental, and scientific research.

“Our countries share affinities on environmental matters, such as the desire to build a future based on sound environment and sustainable development means in respect toward the territories that we live in,” he said in his toast.

As he embarks for a visit to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, Prince Albert II highlighted the importance of preserving the exceptional marine biodiversity, which he considered “an absolute treasure”.

The monarch also thanked President Aquino for his leadership during the COP21 meeting in Paris last year that addresses the impacts of climate change, especially to most vulnerable nations, among them the Philippines.

Prince Albert II arrived in Manila on Wednesday for an official visit from April 6 to 7. PND (as)

Prince Albert II pushes for sustainable development, preservation of Mother Earth
Monaco’s Prince Albert II said he shares the same vision as President Benigno S. Aquino III for future generations, based on sustainable development and the preservation of Mother Earth.

President Aquino welcomed Prince Albert II in Malacañang Palace on Thursday morning for a bilateral meeting, and hosted a state luncheon in honor of the visiting monarch.

In the message he wrote as he signed the Palace guest book, Prince Albert II expressed his thanks for the warm welcome given to him by Filipinos.

“My sincere thanks to President Benigno Aquino and the Philippine authorities for their warm welcome and marks of friendship,” he said in his message.

“I am convinced that our fruitful exchanges will lead to strengthening the ties between our two countries. We share the same vision for future generations based on sustainable development and the preservation of our planet.”

The two leaders had a private meeting afterwards. Among those present during the meeting were Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus Paje, Ambassador to Monaco Ma. Theresa Lazaro, and Assistant Secretary Maria Cleofe Natividad of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of European Affairs.

For Monaco, those present were Colonel Bruno Philipponnat, Chargé de Mission of the Prince; Minister Gilles Tonelli, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Roberto Calcagno, Director General of the Oceanographic Museum; and David Tomatis, Counselor of the Prince’s Cabinet. PND (as)

Palace refutes senator’s claim on late release of El Niño mitigation funds
Malacañang has denied the allegation of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano that the funds to mitigate the effects of El Niño were released only last month.In a statement issued on Thursday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. refuted Senator Cayetano’s claim that the late release of funds could have prevented the violent incident in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato that resulted in the death of three farmers on April 1.

Some 200 people, including policemen, were also injured when the police tried to disperse protesting farmers who have been barricading the Cotabato-Davao Highway since March 30. The farmers were asking the government for the release of rice subsidies and rehabilitation funds.

“Senator Cayetano’s allegation is untrue and unfounded. Since the creation of the Cabinet-level El Niño Task Force, funds and resources were deployed to mitigate the effects of El Niño and assure stable food and water supply,” Secretary Coloma said.

“The comprehensive Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño (RAIN) that was drawn up last August 2015 is still being implemented and fine-tuned to ensure that gaps in service delivery are addressed. Government is aware that the El Niño crisis affects the poorest and most vulnerable among our people and is firmly determined to see to it that our people’s needs are met in a timely manner,” he added.

Coloma said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad likewise belied Cayetano’s allegation.

“Wala pong katotohanan iyang paratang ni Senador Cayetano. Ang mga ahensya ay may kani-kanilang pondo para sa mga calamity at emergency requirements na nakalakip sa kanilang mga regular budgets. Dagdag pa rito, may mga quick response funds pa sila. Kabilang ang mga pondong ito sa comprehensive release na maaga pong natanggap ng mga ahensya. Kaya, halimbawa, November 2015 pa lang, may mga cash-for-work at food packs nang ipinamahagi ang DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development),” Coloma quoted Secretary Abad as saying.

The budget chief further said that local government units (LGUs) also distribute rice and food coming from their calamity funds.

“Ang mga LGUs, katulad ng provincial government ng North Cotabato, mayroon ding pinamamahaging bigas at pagkain mula sa kanilang calamity funds. At kung kukulangin pa ang lahat ng pondong ito, halos di pa po nagagalaw ang ating NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) fund at puwede pa itong pagkunan ng tulong para sa mga tinatamaan ng El Niño. Pakiusap lang: huwag isama sa pulitika ang kundisyon ng mga naghihirap nating mga kababayan,” said Abad.

The Philippine National Police is investigating the tragic incident. PND (jm)