21 November 2015


President Aquino has good news to share with regional counterparts — Amb. Malaya
(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) The country’s booming economy and the ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague are among the issues President Aquino will share with his regional counterparts during the ASEAN Summit, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said on Thursday.“The President can share the good news about the Philippine economy. The Philippines is going fast, in fact, it’s one of the growth drivers in ASEAN as well as for our region,” said Ambassador Malaya.

The envoy also noted the strong interest with regards to the recent favorable ruling of the International Tribunal in The Hague on the matter of jurisdiction and admissibility of the case regarding the West Philippine Sea.

“I think the President will be listened very attentively by his colleagues with the ASEAN because by its ruling, we have in a sense, already hurdled successfully the first test. And what we are seeing now, there are a number of ASEAN countries who have turned around and have also raised their voice, with respect to their concerns about what is taking place in the South China Sea and including, of course, our West Philippine Sea portion of it,” Ambassador Malaya said.

“Previously, it was just us and the Vietnamese, but after the ruling had been issued by the Tribunal in The Hague, we have been hearing stronger statements, not only by the Malaysians, the host country of this summit, but also by the Indonesians. So, as far as we can see it from here, we’re seeing a turning around of the opinions of the ASEAN countries from their original skeptical view of the path that we have taken,” the envoy explained.

Ambassador Malaya also mentioned the country’s other priorities in ASEAN such as the role of women and peace building, economic participation of women in the ASEAN economic community, emphasis on the regional comprehensive economic partnership.

The two-day summit will see the signing of two documents – the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the ASEAN 2015 – Forging Ahead Together.

“It’s the ASEAN Community coming together and deciding what are we to do next. And moving on as one, and when we do this, continue on the process of consultations, of trying to understand each other, we’re in fact developing the habit of mutual accommodation and mutual help, because at the end of the day, what we would like to see is a strong ASEA which acts as one,” Ambassador Malaya explained.

“The ASEAN as a group matters a lot and also, this is where a lot of the economic dynamism is taking place. Some other regions of the world are barely growing, but in the ASEAN, the economies are dynamic. This is the original home of the tiger economies and I think as Filipinos, we can be proud that we are now in that league,” the Philippine envoy added.

With regards to the Philippines-Malaysia ties, Ambassador Malaya was happy to note that there has been a strengthening and enhancement of bilateral relations in the last few years, citing President Aquino’s visit here in February last year and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib’s visit to the Philippines in 2013 and 2014.

‘We, the Philippines, value our relations with Malaysia and look at it as a close friend,” said Ambassador Malaya. “The relationship, in fact, has expanded to not only the usual dimensions, political, security, but we can see now a blossoming of economic exchanges as well as people-to-people exchanges.

Ambassador Malaya cited the 670 Petron gasoline stations along highways in Malaysia which he said “shows the dynamism of Philippine businesses”. Other Philippine companies operating in Malaysia are Philippine Long Distance Telephone Malaysia: Smart Pinoy; Ramcar Batteries and Universal Robina Corporation (Robina Foods).

He noted that in Peninsular Malaysia, “we have about a hundred thousand Filipinos and they are in the engineering sector particularly in the oil and gas industry”.

“We have architects and a lot of skilled workers in the IT services, education, hospitality and entertainment – we have a lot of Filipino bands singing in hotel lobbies of this country, as well, of course, Filipinos who are in the household services segment,” Ambassador Malaya added.

“Filipinos here in Malaysia are united and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the President and his delegation. We are hoping and praying for the success of his mission,” the Philippine diplomat further said. PND (jm)

President Aquino arrives in Malaysia for Asean Summit
President Aquino arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Friday night to attend the 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, which will begin on Monday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

The plane carrying the President and his delegation touched down at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 7 p.m.

The President Aquino was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III and Defense and Armed Forces Attache Col. Delfin Bacon.

From the airport, the President and his entourage, composed of Cabinet members among them Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregorio Domingo, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad and Presidential chief of Protocol Amb. Celia Anna Feria proceeded to the Intercontinental Hotel.

As chairman of the ASEAN 2015, Prime Minister Najib Razak will deliver the welcome remarks during the opening ceremony of the 27th ASEAN Summit.

After the plenary session, leaders of member countries will sign the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. PND (jm)

Philippines shares the grief of Malaysia and other ASEAN countries, underscores commitment to the fight against terrorism
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered military and police forces to intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terror threat elements.

Communications Secretary Herminio S. Coloma Jr. issued the statement on Saturday in reaction to the welcome remarks delivered by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak during the opening ceremony of the 27th ASEAN Summit here.

In a speech delivered at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center Plenary Hall, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak condemned acts of terrorism that resulted in the lost of lives in the downing of the Russian passenger jet over the Sinai desert, shootings and bombings in Paris and Lebanon, the beheading of a Malaysian in the southern Philippines and the hostage-taking incident in West Africa.

The terror attacks in Paris and Beirut left 170 dead while 224 were killed in the bombing of the Russian plane. Reports said at least 27 people were taken hostage at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital city of Bamako.

“President Aquino has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to further intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terror threat elements,” said Coloma in a statement to the Philippine media.

Coloma said the Philippines also sympathizes with the families of the victims of the attacks and joins Malaysia and the ASEAN in the fight against terrorism.

“The Philippines extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the bereaved families and stands in solidarity with Malaysia and ASEAN in resolutely fighting terrorism,” said the Palace official.

Addressing his fellow leaders and delegates, the Malaysian leader said everyone is ‘shocked and shaken by the sickening disregard for human life and the devastation visited on families and communities”.

“Our countries are in mourning. We all share the grief. The perpetuators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law,” said Prime Minister Najib.

‘Malaysia stands ready to provide any help and support that we can, and be assured that we stand with you against this new evil that blasphemes against the name of Islam,” Najib added. PND (jm)

Aquino extends condolences to families of Malaysian beheaded in Sulu
(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) President Benigno Aquino III expressed his deepest regret and sympathy over the beheading of a Malaysian national in Jolo, Sulu last November 17.

In reaction to the opening address of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Summit here, President Aquino said the Philippines “stands in solidarity with Malaysia and the ASEAN in fighting terrorism”.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said following the ruthless beheading of Malaysian hostage Bernard Then, President Aquino has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to further intensify operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terror threat elements.

Jihadi militants from the ASG beheaded Then at a remote town in Jolo, Sulu after their demands of a large ransom were not met.

Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to set up a joint taskforce to track down those responsible for the merciless killing of Then.

In his opening address, Prime Minister Razak blasted the recent deadly attacks and atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups linked to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law,” said Razak.

“We are ever vigilant against a threat that is very real in our region. Local militants and groups, such as Abu Sayyaf, have sworn allegiance to the so-called Islamic State. It was they who cruelly murdered our countryman, Bernard Then, on Tuesday,” he added.

He likewise cited the recent terror attacks in Beirut and Paris, the bombing of a Russian passenger plane and Friday’s hostage taking at a hotel in Bamako, Mali, where 21 people were killed.

“There cannot be a person in this hall who has not been shocked and shaken by the sickening disregard for human life and the devastation visited on families and communities. Our countries are in mourning. We all share in this grief,” the Prime Minister said.

He told ASEAN leaders to “recognize that problems of extremism today require new solutions”.

Like Aquino, Razak assured that Malaysia stands ready to provide any help and support and stands with the ASEAN in combating terrorism. PND (jb)

APEC 2015 hosting spur Philippine tourism sector, says Palace official
The country’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit has boosted the tourism sector as the number of visitors surged especially this month, a Palace official said.

The APEC 2015 National Organizing Council held the APEC meetings in different parts of the country to showcase the Philippines’ tourist sites.

“Nagsimula po ng Disyembre noong nakaraang taon, at nakaikot na po ang ating mga delegado sa iba’t ibang napakagagandang tanawin dito sa Pilipinas,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“Dinala po sila sa Iloilo, sa Cebu, sa Tagaytay, sa Bataan, sa Boracay, at sa Bacolod din po nakapunta sila. Talagang naikot po ng napakaraming delegado ang Pilipinas, hindi lang po ang kanilang mga economic leaders, but more importantly the thousands of delegates that we have hosted in the last year,” she told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

Valte said the Department of Tourism even surpassed the 10,000 target for November and posted 11,000 arrivals.

The 11,000 tourist arrivals did not include APEC delegates who arrived in the country in the past year, she said.

For the APEC CEO Summit, organizers expected 800 participants but the actual number of delegates reached 1,300, Valte said.

The participants included businessmen, CEOs, high-level business managers from all over the 21 APEC economies who attended the CEO Summit in Manila.

“Talagang napakagandang exposure po ito at firsthand experience para sa kanila na makita ang Pilipinas sa ngayong panahon,” Valte said adding it was really a big boost for the tourism sector.

Aside from APEC, the Philippines hosted the ADB International Conference in Manila, two years ago. Prior to that, the country became the venue for the World Economic Forum East Asia Summit held in Manila.

“Nagbi-build up po ito at nakikita po natin ‘yung return ng mga ganitong international event at ang exposure na ibinibigay nito sa sa paglago ng turismo,” Valte said. PND (as)

Palace defends APEC 2015 hosting from criticisms
Malacanang brushed off criticisms hurled against the country’s hosting of APEC saying the Philippines and other APEC members benefitted from joining the trade bloc.

“Tingin ko ‘yung mga ganyang statement hindi kino-consider ‘yung nangyayari sa reyalidad dahil marami na pong mga pag-uusap na nagtala ng kaginhawaan naman sa atin dito sa Pilipinas, at doon sa mga ibang member economies ng APEC,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

Valte told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan that the government acknowledges the reality that there is still poverty in the Philippines and the government is working to address it.

APEC is important because through the dialogues within the trade grouping, member economies could find ways to defeat poverty, which is the country’s major concern.

The APEC 2015 primary theme is inclusivity, she said, noting growth must benefit everyone.

“Hindi po pwedeng sabihin na itinatago ang mga problema natin, dahil sa loob mismo ng mga meeting, mga problema natin ang pinag-uusapan at nagsisikap tayong makahanap ng solusyon kasama ng ibang mga miyembrong ekonomiya ng APEC,” the Palace official said.

Valte was reacting to the criticism by a Manila bishop who said Filipinos have not gained anything from the recent summit and even from the country’s APEC membership for many years. PND (as)

Malaysian PM also bats for peaceful means to solve South China Sea
(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak on Saturday echoed President Aquino’s call for a peaceful rules-based approached in resolving the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

In his speech during the opening ceremony of the 27th ASEAN Summit, Prime Minister Najib underscored “the importance of resolving disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with international law including United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)”.

“We call on all parties to exercise self-restraint, and avoid actions
that would complicate or escalate tension. That is the ASEAN way,” said the Malaysian leader.

In an intervention statement at the plenary session, President Aquino said the Philippines “has always adhered to the rule of the law”.

“Our decision to resort to arbitration reflects our belief that it is a transparent, friendly, durable, and peaceful dispute settlement mechanism that can bring stability to the region,” the President said.

The Arbitral Tribunal, which convened under the provisions of the (UNCLOS), unanimously decided last October that it has jurisdiction over the maritime row between China and the Philippines regarding parts of the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea)

The press statement released by the Permanent Court of Arbitration “on behalf of the Arbitral Tribunal in the Philippines v. China arbitration” clarified that the dispute was not about sovereignty, as China has claimed.

“This arbitration concerns the role of ‘historic rights’ and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features in the South China Sea and the maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China in the South China Sea that are alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention.”

“We welcome the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision on jurisdiction, and look forward to the next round of hearings, scheduled for next week at The Hague.

The Philippines remains committed to pursuing arbitration to its final conclusion, and will abide by its decisions,” said President Aquino.

The President also stressed the importance of having stability in the region. “As I have stated many times in the past, our collective prosperity requires stability in the region. This has come under threat by unilateral actions such as the massive reclamation and building of structures on features in the Spratly islands, which have urgent and far-reaching implications to the region and the international community. We believe that, as a rules-based Community, ASEAN should not allow any country, no matter how powerful, to claim an entire sea as its own and to use force or the threat thereof in asserting such a claim. We have not resolved, even amongst ASEAN members, the competing claims especially among the Spratlys.

These improvements further complicate and increase the difficulty of coming to compromises that will be necessary to prevent further tension from rising,” the Chief Executive explained. PND (jm)

ASEAN inks anti-human trafficking agreement
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) All 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed an agreement Saturday to stamp out human trafficking in the region.

The signing of the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (ACTIP), establishes the legal framework for the region to address the issue and establish a mechanism to protect victims of trafficking,

The Leaders stressed that victims of trafficking, mainly vulnerable women and children, have a fundamental right to be protected in accordance with international law and relevant international conventions.

ACTIP demonstrates the political will and commitment of the ASEAN Member States in protecting victims of trafficking and preventing and combating trafficking in persons within the region.

The objectives of ACTIP among others are to effectively prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, and to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers; protect and assist victims of trafficking in persons, with full respect for their human rights and promote cooperation among the relevant parties in order to meet the objectives.

Recognizing the need and urgency to address the issue of trafficking in persons in the region, the ASEAN Leaders during the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2011 tasked the Ministers in charge of Transnational Crimes to consider an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons.

ACTIP is the second convention for ASEAN following the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism, which was signed by the ASEAN Leaders in Cebu, Philippines on January 13, 2007.

The signing ceremony was led by ASEAN chairman, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib then handed over the signed convention document to Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh.

ASEAN has 10 member states including Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (jb)