15 September 2015

APEC News Release

South Korean Defense Minister calls on President Aquino
A delegation from the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Korea, led by National Defense Minister Han Min-Koo, called on President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday afternoon, shortly after the latter arrived from his engagement in Iloilo province, at the Kalayaan Hall of Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

According to Undersecretary Honorio Azcueta of the Philippines’ Department of National Defense, during the courtesy call, Minister Han presented to President Aquino the two countries’ Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Operations.

Minister Han was accompanied by the South Korean Defense Ministry’s Deputy Minister Yoo Jeh-Seung, Director General Yoon Sun-Gu, and Director Sung Ki-Wook, as well as South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim Jae Shin.

Also present during the courtesy call were National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Hernando Irriberi, and other defense officials, among them Undersecretary Azcueta, Undersecretary for Finance, Munitions, Installations and Materials Fernando Manalo, and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment Raymund Jose Quilop. PND (gp)

President Aquino accepts resignation of Food Security Secretary Francis Pangilinan
The Palace on Tuesday confirmed that President Benigno S. Aquino III has accepted the resignation of Secretary Francis Pangilinan as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.“According to the Office of the Executive Secretary, the resignation of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (PAFSAM) Secretary Francis Pangilinan has been accepted by the President effective 30 September 2015,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

“The President expressed his sincerest appreciation to Secretary Pangilinan for his contribution to the government during his stint as PAFSAM and wished him the best in his future endeavors,” Secretary Coloma added.

According to reports, Pangilinan has disclosed that he is planning to run for the Senate in next year’s elections.

President Aquino appointed former senator Pangilinan as presidential assistant for food security in May 2014 to oversee the National Food Authority, National Irrigation Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority.

Last February, Pangilinan said the coconut scale insect infestation, also known as cocolisap, has been brought down to manageable levels. PND (ag)

President Aquino nominates Alicia Bala as new Civil Service Commission chief
President Benigno S. Aquino III has nominated Alicia dela Rosa-Bala as Chairperson of the Civil Service Commission for a term that expires on February 2, 2022, replacing Francisco Duque III.The nomination has been forwarded to the Commission on Appointments, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Bala recently completed her duty as Deputy Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia.

She served as Undersecretary at the Department of Social Welfare and Development until 2005, and as a Career Executive Service Officer (CESO) since 1999.

Bala holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the Centro Escolar University, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of the Philippines. PND (ag)

President Aquino willing to talk to retired generals against Bangsamoro Basic Law
President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his willingness to sit down with retired generals who signed an open letter published in a newspaper, opposing the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

In an interview with reporters in Iloilo City on Monday, President Aquino lamented the move of the retired officers from the military, police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and other uniformed services, saying they should have discussed with him their concerns on the BBL.

“Nagulat ako doon sa nakita kong advertisement kanina. Ngayon… sana magkaroon ng pagkakataon na makausap ko itong mga nakapirma,” he said.

“Una, tatanungin ko kung talaga bang pumirma kayo dito? Pangalawa, saan ba kayo tutol dito? Nabasa ba niyo talaga ‘yung panukalang batas? Nakinig lang ba kayo sa mga so-called ‘experts’? Ano kaya (ang) agenda ‘nung ‘experts’ na ‘yon? ‘Yung talagang open na discussion,” he added.

The President said he was surprised to see the manifesto signed by people whom he has known since the EDSA revolution, and former members of the Cabinet’s security cluster.

“Bakit hindi nila ako kinausap? Hindi ba ako worthwhile kausapin? Basta sa akin bukas ako sa kanila, sana sila bukas rin sa akin,” he said.

The Chief Executive questioned why the retired generals did not dare to participate in various dialogues on the measure to address their concerns or come up with alternatives for the Bangsamoro peace process.

The retired generals believe that the BBL violates the Constitution.

“Lahat tayo dapat nakilahok dito sa dayalogong ito, dapat mature na tayo. Iyong, this is not a good step, there has to be a better step. This is the better step. Baka somebody can even say, ‘This is the best step.’ Kung mas maganda ‘yung mungkahi nila, bakit hindi susuportahan? Pero ‘yung tuligsa ka lang nang tuligsa, maliban sa naglabas ka ng hangin, ano bang napala noon?” he said. PND (jb)

President Aquino receives Conair Chair in courtesy call
President Benigno S. Aquino III received Conair Corporation Chairman Leandro Rizzuto during a courtesy call in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday.

Rizzuto was accompanied by Conair’s international marketing specialist Hanz Gulrajani, and managing director Anthony Leung.

Also present during the courtesy call were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, and Philippine Economic Zone Authority Director General Lilia de Lima.

Rizzuto’s parents established Conair in 1959 from the basement of their Brooklyn home.

Leandro sold his Cadillac to raise start-up funds. Then called Continental Hair Products, the company manufactured hair rollers invented by his father and introduced the iconic pistol-shaped blow dryer in 1965. In 1976, the company changed its name to Conair.

At present, Conair brands include Cuisinart and Waring kitchen appliances, Interplak electric toothbrushes, and hair product lines Scunci, Babybliss and Rusk.

The company went public in 1972, then private again in 1985 through a leveraged buyout.

Rizzuto and his children own just under 100 percent of the company. In addition to Conair, Rizzuto also owns the CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa in Anguilla.

Rizzuto and his family, whose net worth is $3.6 billion, are listed as the world’s 534th billionaires in Forbes Magazine in 2015. PND (as)

President Aquino appoints new Labor Relations Commission officials
The Palace on Tuesday announced the appointment of top officials of the Fourth Division of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed on September 11 Atty. Grace Venus and Atty. Bernardino Julve as NLRC’s Presiding Commissioner and Commissioner, respectively.

Venus replaces Herminio Suelo while Julve replaces Angelo Palaña.

Venus holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the San Beda College of Law. Prior to her appointment, she served as Labor Arbiter/Officer-in-Charge Director for Administration and Finance of the NLRC.

She was also Adjudicator/Legal Counsel of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2003 to 2010.

Julve earned his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree, major in History from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, and his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines.

Before his appointment, he served as Labor Attaché at the DOLE with assignment at the Office of the POEA Administration as well as in Vancouver, Canada from 2008 to 2014.

Julve also worked as Officer-in-Charge, Legal Service and Special Assistant to the Secretary for Overseas Operation of the DOLE from 2007 to 2008. PND (as)

APEC Cebu Action Plan can address Philippines’ infrastructure needs, says Finance Secretary
(LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu) The Cebu Action Plan (CAP) can address the Philippines’ growing need for infrastructure development, which could then provide long-term solutions to issues in traffic management, flood control, and even the entry of foreign investments.

At the joint press conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) finance ministers’ meeting last week, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima highlighted the importance of the action plan’s fourth pillar — the acceleration of infrastructure development and financing — in helping the country improve its infrastructure.

One of this pillar’s main agenda is to maximize the role of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) through the PPP Center, which serves as the central coordinating and monitoring agency for all PPP projects in the Philippines.

Secretary Purisima noted that this has been established with the help of APEC member Australia and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

“It is this nature of cooperation that I think will make into reality the fourth pillar, which is increasing financing available for infrastructure. The hope is that participation in PPPs can be much easier for companies in the APEC region,” he added.

Notably, some of the projects under the PPP are major road construction and port rehabilitation that can address the country’s traffic management issue.

According to the PPP Center, its pipeline of projects include the Daang Hari-SLEX Link Road, NAIA Expressway Project, Automatic Fare Collection System, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building, Cavite-Laguna Expressway, Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3, and MRT Line 7.

The action plan indicates that “infrastructure development is a key priority of this (Aquino) administration”, and that the Philippines “has also made vital fiscal data public and has implemented reforms in the budget process” to accommodate the need for infrastructure development.

The Cebu Action Plan is a development roadmap for the Asia-Pacific region that was drafted by the Philippines with inputs from other APEC member economies, multilateral organizations, and the private sector through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). It was launched here last FridaY.

While a non-binding formation, APEC meetings are able to set domestic, regional, and industrial policies to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific.

The APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, US, and Vietnam, and the Philippines. (acg)

Finance Secretary details how Cebu Action Plan facilitates APEC participation in public-private partnerships
(LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu) Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has detailed how the Cebu Action Plan (CAP) makes it easier for companies in member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to participate in the country’s public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

At the joint press conference of the APEC finance ministers last week, Secretary Purisima said the action plan seeks to address the weaknesses of the program, and make the participation of APEC companies in PPPs “much easier”.

Using the CAP’s fourth pillar, the Philippines has made a “sound policy framework” with the inclusion of the Contingent Liability Fund in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) and its support for the enactment of the PPP Act or the amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

The Contingent Liability Fund was created to handle the unexpected cost for the government that might arise from infrastructure projects under the PPP, while the Build-Operate-Transfer Law is a scheme wherein a private entity will finance, design, construct and operate a facility, and then transfer it to the government at the end of the concession period.

“By creating a framework, it (Cebu Action Plan) facilitates sharing of best practices across economies of APEC…as well as the harmonization of terms and contract provisions can be done so we can cut short the negotiation process for PPP,” Purisima said.

The easing of requirements and the process for PPP projects can also fuel investments in the country, as foreign firms have shown particular interest in investing in the Philippines, so long as it solves problems in its infrastructure.

Even the government admitted that the Philippines is losing billions of pesos every day from lost productivity because of traffic jams, particularly in Metro Manila.

For its part, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the APEC has placed particular importance on the quality of infrastructure for the growth of the region.

“The APEC recognizes the importance of quality infrastructure in economic growth of the Asia Pacific, not only in physically connecting the region but also in ensuring the efficient movement of goods, services, and people between and within borders,” the DFA said in a statement.

“Quality infrastructure directly supports efficient transportation and telecommunication services, air and sea ports, customs procedures, energy distribution, farm-to-fork logistics, among others,” it added.

Producers, such as farmers, are normally referred to as “farm”, while consumers are the “fork” in the supply chain.

The Cebu Action Plan is a development roadmap for the Asia-Pacific region that was drafted by the Philippines with inputs from other APEC member economies, multilateral organizations, and the private sector through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). It was launched here last Friday.

While a non-binding formation, APEC meetings are able to set domestic, regional, and industrial policies to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia Pacific.

The APEC’s 21 member economies are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, US, Vietnam, and the Philippines. (acg)

Palace assures continuity of food security program despite resignation of Secretary Pangilinan
Malacañang on Tuesday assured the continuity of the government’s food security program despite the resignation of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Secretary Francis Pangilinan.

“Merong Cabinet committee na nagsasagawa ng action planning hinggil diyan. Ito ang Food Security Council, ito ay sa pangunguna ni (Economic Planning) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a media briefing, when asked how Secretary Pangilinan’s resignation would affect the food security program as the threat of El Niño looms.

“Mayroong pangalawang meeting bukas (Wednesday) sa NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) para bigyan pa ng sustansiya ang mga nailatag na mga action plans. Kaya tuluy-tuloy lang doon sa action planning at ‘yung pagresponde sa sitwasyon ng El Niño,” he added.

Balisacan is NEDA’s director general.

Coloma further said that other government programs will not be affected once other public officials resign to run in next year’s elections.

“Kung meron mang magbibitiw, tinitiyak ang continuity at ‘yung pagtutok sa mga mahahalagang suliranin, lalung-lalo na doon sa napipintong El Niño,” he said.

“Walang epekto ang mga kaganapang ito dahil pinaghahandaan naman at puspusan pa rin ang pagtatrabaho ng buong pamahalaan,” he added.

The country is facing a severe spell of El Niño until the first quarter of next year.

Pangilinan has tendered his resignation, effective September 30. According to reports, he has disclosed that he is planning to run for the Senate in next year’s elections. PND (ag)

President Aquino declares September 25 a holiday for ‘Eid’l Adha’
President Benigno S. Aquino III has declared September 25 (Friday) as a regular holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid’l Adha, known as the Feast of Sacrifice.

The declaration was made through Proclamation No. 1128, which President Aquino signed on September 15.

In signing the proclamation, the President cited Republic Act No. 9849, which provides that Eid’l Adha shall be celebrated as a regular holiday.

Eid’l Adha is one of the two greatest feasts of Islam.

“The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) recommends that the observance of Eid’l Adha in the Philippines be on 25 September 2015 based on the Islamic Calendar and the declaration made by Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, thereby amending its earlier recommendation to observe the occasion on 24 September 2015,” the proclamation stated. PND (co)

Smart Technologies seen to boost competitiveness of women entrepreneurs
The Republic of Korea’s Asia Pacific Women’s Information Network Center (APWINC) in cooperation with other entities recently hosted the APEC Women’s Business and Smart Technology Seminar entitled “Leveraging Smart Technologies & Global Best Practices for APEC Women Entrepreneurs”. The seminar presented current technology trends, best practices and business models that could help women engaged in businesses to expand and be more competitive.

It also eyed to create an APEC “in-house online accelerator support system for start-ups” by partnering with regional organizations, which can be used by women entrepreneurs when they start a business.

The system will include contacts and it will also process recommendations for activities such as sourcing, production and manufacturing that women entrepreneurs could use when starting a business on discounted rates.

One of the objectives of the seminar is to formulate policies and develop strategies for leveraging smart technology which will then be presented to the Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy (PPWE) and to other related fora such as the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI).

The APEC Women’s Business and Smart Technology Seminar is one of the side events of the APEC Women and the Economy 2015 Fora being held at the Philippine International Convention Center starting Tuesday, September 15 to 18.

Among APWINC partners include Global Women’s ICT Network (GWIN) and the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry, and supported by South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality & Family (MOGEF). PND (as)