25 April 2015

President Aquino to keep busy schedule in Malaysia trip
(KUALA LUMPUR) President Benigno S. Aquino III has a busy schedule ahead of him as the President and other Southeast Asian leaders gather in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday for the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

President Aquino, along with the official Philippine delegation, is due to arrive here on Sunday afternoon to attend the summit on April 26 to 28, with nine other ASEAN leaders.

On his first day in Kuala Lumpur, the President will attend a gala dinner to be hosted by the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for all ASEAN leaders and their delegations in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), the summit venue.

On Monday (April 27), President Aquino will join other ASEAN leaders in the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit in KLCC. The leaders are also expected to attend the plenary session after the opening ceremony.

During the plenary session, the leaders will discuss and exchange views on the establishment of the ASEAN Community; ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision; and external relations and future direction.

On the same day, President Aquino will also attend separate meetings with representatives from the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, ASEAN Youth and Civil Society Organizations.

Immediately after the meetings, the President will fly to Langkawi together with other ASEAN leaders for the retreat session of the ASEAN Summit. President Aquino will also attend the closing ceremony of the summit.

A barbecue dinner hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his spouse, Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor, will cap off President Aquino’s second day in Malaysia.

On Tuesday (April 28), the President will join his counterparts for the 11th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit before his departure for Manila.

President Aquino will be joined by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman.

Also accompanying the President are Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Presidential Management Staff Chief Julia Abad, NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan, and Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati Antonino. PND (co)

Philippines supports global movement of moderates to combat extremism
(KUALA LUMPUR) The Philippines is supporting Malaysia’s initiative on the global movement of moderates to counter extremism in the region, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said.

The leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are expected to adopt a Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates at the end of the 26th ASEAN Summit on April 26 to 28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi.

During an interview with Radio Television Malacañang ahead of the 26th ASEAN Summit, Ambassador Malaya underscored the importance of such initiative, saying that it could be an “antidote to religious extremism.”

“In my view, it’s important that this concept of moderation be pursued. This is an initiative, incidentally, of our host, Malaysia; and exploring this, pursuing this, could be an antidote to the religious extremism that we’re seeing,” he said.

“There have been a number of apprehensions undertaken here in this country with respect to certain nationals of theirs who have had involvements with the IS militant group,” the ambassador added.

Malaysia, chairman of this year’s ASEAN, has proposed that ASEAN leaders adopt Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates at the end of the summit.

Another declaration that is expected to be adopted is the Declaration on a People-Centered ASEAN.

This year’s ASEAN summit has the theme “Our People, Our Community, Our Vision,” highlighting the importance of a united ASEAN.

President Benigno S. Aquino III is set to arrive here Sunday afternoon to participate in the 26th ASEAN Summit, with the nine other Southeast Asian leaders.

Established in August 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (co)

NEDA to oversee the rehab of Typhoon Yolanda devastated areas, says Palace
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) will carry out the rehabilitation works in the areas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda, a job previously handled by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery, the Palace said on Saturday.

“Ipagpapatuloy ng NEDA sa pamumuno ni Secretary Arsenio Balisacan ang pangangasiwa doon sa pagpapatupad ng mga programa hinggil sa rehabilitasyon bunsod ng mga pinsala na dulot ng Typhoon Haiyan o Yolanda,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a radio interview.

NEDA will maintain the existing structure which is composed of five clusters. The infrastructure cluster, for instance, is handled by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The resettlement cluster is under the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the social services cluster is overseen by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The Department of Trade and Industry will handle the livelihood cluster, while the Department of Budget and Management and NEDA will oversee the support cluster.

“Wala pong interruption doon sa progreso ng ating mga rehabilitation programs. Ipagpapatuloy po ito sa pangangasiwa na ngayon ng NEDA,” Coloma told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

In October last year, President Benigno S. Aquino III approved the P167.9-billion Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (CRRP) to rebuild areas in Eastern Visayas devastated by Typhoon Yolanda.

The comprehensive plan envisions to bring forth the recovery of 171 affected cities and municipalities in 14 provinces and six regions, known as the “Yolanda corridor,” based on the “build-back-better” principle.

It focuses on long-term and sustainable efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen the capacities of communities in coping with future hazard events.

The rebuilding efforts require a total amount of P167.9 billion aimed at restoring infrastructure, settlements and basic community facilities, livelihood, and the resilience of vulnerable communities, the government said. PND (as)

Reformed Customs Bureau to play major role in ASEAN integration
Malacanang said it is confident that the Bureau of Customs would do its part effectively as the country becomes part of a more integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

President Aquino appointed Alberto Lina as the new chief of the Bureau of Customs following the resignation of Sunny Sevilla who initiated several reform measures at the bureau.

“Para po sa atin, patuloy po ang trabaho sa Bureau of Customs,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo Ng Bayan on Saturday.

“Determinado si Commissioner Alberto Lina na ipagpatuloy at tapusin ang mga repormang nasimulan na diyan at gawing mahalaga ang paglahok ng Bureau of Customs sa overall economic [performance] po natin, lalung-lalong na doon sa nabanggit na ASEAN integration na kung saan sa trade facilitation ay malaki ang papel na ginagampanan ng Bureau of Customs,” Coloma said.

But Coloma explained that the government’s thrust with regards to ASEAN integration is through concerted efforts by different government agencies and the BOC is one of those entities.

The BOC plays a major role in trade facilitation because it handles the entry of goods in the country’s airports and seaports, he added.

Coloma also mentioned the reform measures being carried out at the BOC.

“Sa mga nakaraang taon ay pinalakas na po natin ang ating mga sistema, binago natin ang ating mga patakaran,” he said.

“Kaya hindi naman po iisang ahensiya lang ang concerned dito. Team effort po ito ng ating pamahalaan at hindi po natitinag ang ating determinasyon na maging maayos ang paglahok ng Pilipinas sa ASEAN economic integration,” Coloma added.

President Aquino is leaving Sunday (April 26) for Malaysia to attend the 26th ASEAN Summit. PND (as)

Malacanang welcomes report ranking Philippines among ‘happiest nations’
The Palace said it is elated by a report ranking the Philippines among the top 100 happiest nations in the world, which could boost the country’s tourism campaign.

The Philippines placed 90th among 158 nations ranked by the 2015 World Happiness Report. The report was unveiled in New York last Thursday.

“Ikinararangal po natin na kaligayahan ang magiging karanasan ng mga dadalaw sa atin,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“Kaya ang pag-validate po na isa sa pinakamasayang tao ay patunay po sa ating marketing campaign that ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ at iyan po ay pagyayamanin natin,” he told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.

The government’s campaign to attract tourists not only focuses on international advertisement but also through the upgrades of major infrastructure and facilities to entice more tourists, Coloma said.

Switzerland is the happiest country in the world followed closely by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

The 2015 World Happiness Report is the third annual report seeking to quantify happiness as a means of influencing government policy. The United Nations published the first study in 2012. Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia round out the top 10, making small or medium-sized countries in Western Europe seven of the top 10 happiest countries.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore is most happy at 24th place, followed by Thailand and Taiwan at 34th and 38th spots, respectively. China is at 84th. PND (as)