27 May 2015

APEC News Release

Philippines wants tensions to ease in China-U.S. row over West Philippine Sea
The Philippines wants tensions to ease between China and the United States after an American spy plane recently flew over disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

“Hindi naman tayo tuwiran sangkot diyan sa usapin na yan. Pero ang nais naman natin ay huwag ito lumawig, bagkus ay humupa ang tensyon. Kaya nga’t ang ating pokus pa rin ay sa mapayapa at ma-diplomatikong pananaw,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during a press briefing when asked to comment on Beijing’s move to file a formal complaint with the US over the incident.
“Para sa atin, ang mahalaga pa rin ay ang interes ng ating bansa. Ayon din sa Pangulo, gagawin natin ang lahat ng magagawa within our resource capabilities at patuloy pa rin naman tayong tatalima doon sa dalawang lines of action — ‘yung tinatawag niyang two-track approach: one track is arbitration; the other one is ASEAN centrality na kung saan ang focus ay doon sa pagbubuo ng isang legally binding Code of Conduct,” Secretary Coloma explained.

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping claims over the sea, which is believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas, and where trillions of dollars worth of the world’s cargoes pass every year.

Friction in the region has increased over China’s massive reclamation work, which the country is determined to finish, according to the Chinese state-owned newspaper The Global Times.

Washington meanwhile has said it would continue air and sea patrols in the area amid concerns that China might impose air and sea restrictions in the sea once the construction of the artificial islands is completed.

The Philippines has filed a memorial before the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea against China and has called on fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help forge a legally binding Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. PND (ag)

Palace welcomes survey showing high optimism among Filipinos
Malacañang has welcomed the results of a recent survey showing high optimism among Filipinos in the past year and in the future.

“Ikinagagalak natin na sa kabila ng maraming hamon ay nananatiling positibo ang pananaw ng ating mga mamamayan tungkol sa kanilang kinabukasan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday.

“Kaya siguro masasabi natin na anuman ang background ng mga kaganapan, ang kanilang basic outlook ay positive at kapag ang nasa isipan ng mga mamamayan ay positibo, ang ganoong pananaw ay makakatulong sa pagkakaroon ng mga positibong aksyon kung saan sila ay mas gaganahang magtrabaho at magpursigi para sa isang mas magandang kinabukasan. Ang ultimate na benepisyaryo niyan ay ang kabutihan ng buong bansa,” he added. A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted last March 20 to 23, showed that more Filipinos have become optimistic about the quality of their lives in the past year, and expect it to get better in the next 12 months.

The SWS said the net personal optimism score among Filipinos of all socioeconomic classes was “very high” after it reached a record-breaking +37.

This means 42 percent were optimistic that the quality of their lives would improve, while only five percent said it would be worse.

This survey result was higher than the previous record of +36 in June 2010 when President Benigno S. Aquino III started his term.
The data was also two notches up from the +35 recorded in December last year.

The SWS survey further showed that 32 percent of the 1,200 respondents felt that their lives improved over the past 12 months, higher than the 28 percent who thought otherwise, yielding a +6 net score.

According to the SWS, this was the highest in 28 years since March 1987 when the country recorded a “high” +11.

This figure was also a significant improvement from the –1 recorded in December last year. PND (as)

President Aquino swears into office 50 new military officers
President Benigno S. Aquino III inducted into office 50 new generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Malacañang Palace’s Rizal Hall on Wednesday.

Also present during the oath-taking ceremony at 10 a.m. were AFP Chief General Gregorio Catapang, Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs Secretary Danilo Cortez, and Defense Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta.

The new officers were led by Western Luzon Command Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Lopez, who was designated Balikatan director this year; Central Luzon Command Commander Lt. General Nicanor Vivar; and Eastern Mindanao Commander Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad.

Also inducted were Lt. Gen. Oscar Lopez, Maj. Gen. Edwin Manuel Remotigue, Maj. Gen. Ivan Samarita, Maj. Gen. Rafael Valencia, Rear Adm. Ronald Joseph Mercado, Maj. Gen. Raul del Rosario, Maj. Gen. Isagani Silva, Rear Adm. Primitivo Gopo, Maj. Gen. Demosthenes Santillan, Maj. Gen. Richard Lagrana, Maj. Gen. Romeo Gan, Maj. Gen. Ruben Carandang, Rear Adm. Allan Rosal, Brig. Gen. Leandro Loyao, Brig. Gen. Edgar de Vera, Brig. Gen. Godfrey Julio, Brig. Gen. Apolinario Alobba, Brig. Gen. Joselito Reyes, Brig. Gen. Buenaventura Pascual, Brig. Gen. Jose Mirandilla, Jr., Commodore Edwin Mackay, Brig. Gen. Rozzano Briguez, Brig. Gen. Paolo Leo Miciano, and Brig. Gen. Guillermo Molina, Jr.

President Aquino, also the AFP commander-in-chief, likewise swore in Brig. Gen. Ricardo Castilan, Commodore Narciso Vingson, Brig. Gen. Ernesto Milo, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Ponce, Commodore Vicente Cejoco, Brig. Gen. Ignacio Obligacion, Brig. Gen. Al Perreras, Brig. Gen. Glenn Macasero, Brig. Gen. Arturo Jose Orticio Jr., Brig. Gen. Michael Beverlyn Manquiquis, Brig. Gen. Gregory Cayetano, Commodore Ingemar Pernes, Brig. Gen. Herminigildo Aquino, Brig. Gen. Ferdinand Quidilla, Brig. Gen. Marcial Constante Jr., Brig. Gen. Paul Atal, Brig. Gen. Jon Aying, Brig. Gen. Aaron Fetalvero, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, Brig. Gen Tirso Dolina, Brig. Gen. Noelito Albano, Brig. Gen Arnold Rafael Depakakibo, and Brig. Gen. Elvin Hermogino. PND (jm)

President Aquino appoints members of National Anti-Poverty Commission
Malacañang on Wednesday announced the appointment of 12 members of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the appointment papers of the NAPC members were signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III last May 5.

Appointed were Jocelyn Rosemarie Cris Garcia, representing persons with disabilities; Rosalina Funtanares, representing workers in the informal sector; Celia Matea Flor, representing women; Eduardo Mora, representing farmers and landless rural workers; Deonato Mokudef, representing the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples; Josh Cezar Serilo, representing children; Salvacion Basiano, representing senior citizens; Noel Cano, representing the urban poor; Edwin Bustillos, representing workers in the formal sector and migrant workers; Ruperto Aleroza, representing artisanal fisherfolk; Paul Richard Paraguya, representing non-government organizations; and Gadwin Handumon, representing cooperatives.

The NAPC is committed to reduce poverty by institutionalizing basic sector participation in governance and coordinating the poverty reduction effort of the government and the private sector. It derives its mandate from Republic Act 8425, also known as the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act of 1997. PND (jm)

APEC ministers agree to endorse action agenda for small businesses
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministers who recently met in Boracay, Aklan, have agreed to endorse the Boracay Action Agenda to globalize micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to the APEC leaders during the 2016 APEC summit in Peru, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said on Wednesday.

“This is a feat for the chairmanship of the Philippines to support the integration of MSMEs in the global value chain,” Secretary Domingo said during a press conference held at the Board of Investments (BOI).

He noted that as the proponent of the Boracay Action Agenda, the Philippines recognizes that for all the APEC member economies to gain from international trade, a big gap must be addressed.

Global Value Chains (GVCs) primarily benefit medium enterprises, while the large majority of smaller firms – the micro and small enterprises — are left behind, Domingo said.

“These micro and small enterprises are ready to export and will do so given the chance and given the right environment,” he added.

“Micro enterprises, in particular, generally lack the capacity and the scale to successfully plug into global value chains and directly participate in cross-border trade.”

He said that the lack of transparency and cumbersome rules and regulations hamper the ability of these smaller businesses to seize present market opportunities.

Domingo stressed that without the full participation of micro and small enterprises, growth cannot be truly inclusive and progress in trade liberalization would be difficult to achieve.

Without proper intervention, preferential trade agreements might be viewed as threats by domestic MSMEs that could face increased competition from large foreign enterprises, he added.

“At the same time, our preferential trade agreement may not provide MSMEs effective market access to foreign markets with its complex and cumbersome rules.”

The Boracay Action Agenda, crafted during the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting last May 23 to 24, covers trade facilitation, trade finance, e-commerce, and institutional support.

APEC Ministers have agreed to work toward a common goal of growing dynamic, global MSMEs by widening and deepening their involvement in international markets and global value chains to attain regional economic growth and prosperity.

All the ministers agreed for a more coordinated action within the APEC and with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

At the same time, Domingo said they will cooperate with international organizations and forums, especially those that are giving MSMEs greater emphasis, to link the APEC’s work to global efforts. PND (as)

Education Department planning to build temporary learning centers for students of schools along fault line
The Department of Education is planning to put up temporary learning centers for students of schools situated along the West Valley Fault, a Palace official said on Wednesday.

“Education Secretary (Armin) Luistro was saying that they will not allow any student to use buildings that have not been cleared by the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways),” Presidential Deputy Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Valte said that once the department gets a better picture of the problem, it could either transfer the students to other schools or house them in temporary learning centers until safer structures are built.

She noted that there is enough time to build the temporary learning centers but not for the permanent structures.

“For the permanent construction, hindi sapat ang panahon because classes will open on June 1. Pero doon sa mga temporary learning centers natin, oo, may panahon pa tayo diyan dahil nag-anticipate na naman ang Department of Education para dito sa darating na pasukan,” she said.

The Department of Education has recently asked its engineers to check the structural integrity of school buildings situated along the West Valley Fault.

Philippine volcanology experts have warned that a magnitude 7.2 earthquake could occur once the fault moves.

The 100-kilometer West Valley Fault traverses 42 barangays in Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Muntinlupa, as well as 30 barangays in the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna and Cavite. PND (ag)

Malacañang wants essence of autonomy in Bangsamoro draft law preserved
A Palace official on Wednesday said the essence of autonomy in the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) should be preserved.Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte was reacting to the report of the Senate committee on constitutional amendment and revision of codes, stating that the BBL should be “substantially revised” to overcome legal scrutiny at the Supreme Court.

Twelve senators, led by committee chairperson, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, have signed the report that was submitted to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who chairs the Senate committee on local government discussing the proposed measure.

“We have always been of the position that we want the essence of autonomy preserved. We feel that it is a viable vehicle to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao, and we are strongly supportive of measures that would keep the spirit of autonomy in that particular piece of legislation. Whether it is a setback, we would have to gauge what that particular concept or provision would be,” Valte said during the daily press briefing.

The Palace official also recognized the challenges facing the draft BBL, which was passed by the House of Representatives ad hoc committee last week.

“We are not alien to challenges, especially when it comes to the process that we have been undergoing for the BBL. And, as the President said, he is waiting for word, should it be required that he meet with the senators to flesh out positions when it comes to the BBL,” she said.

“We have always said that we recognize the independence of both Houses of Congress, and that they can propose amendments to any piece of legislation that we work with them. So, at this point, we look forward to the opportunity to continually discuss the administration’s position on the BBL with the senators,” she added.

President Benigno S. Aquino III had a meeting with the House ad hoc committee members prior to the passage of the bill and earlier this week, the President also expressed his willingness to meet up with the senators to explain the draft law on the Bangsamoro.

When asked if a dialogue with the President would convince the senators to change their mind, Valte said, “We are optimistic that the President can aptly put forth the position of the government when it comes to the BBL.”

The senators who signed the committee report were Santiago, Marcos, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Sonny Angara, Teofisto Guingona III, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Cynthia Villar, Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, Ralph Recto and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Those who did not sign were Antonio Trillanes IV, who is out of the country, and detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who, according to his staff, has not studied the matter fully. PND (jm)