13 August 2015

APEC News Releases

Significance of tie-ups through higher education to attain regional growth tackled in APEC dialogue
Commission on Higher Education Chairperson Patricia Licuanan highlighted the importance of partnerships through higher education in achieving regional development, as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) policy dialogue on higher education opened on Thursday.

“We come together in dialogue for two days as members of APEC because we are in pursuit of one goal: Building partnerships in science and technology through higher education,” Licuanan said during the start of the APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education, held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

Although the APEC was originally conceived as an economic vehicle to drive regional growth, APEC members cannot ignore that progress as a regional community depends of their ability to invest in science and technology, produce knowledge, and generate innovations.

“The outcomes of these investments form part of our capital assets, as individual economies, and as a region as a whole,” she said.

She noted that in the spirit of regional scientific explorations, discovery and progress, APEC member economies must see these endeavors in the context of regional and inter-regional collaborative mechanisms in science and technology.

This involves the exchange of ideas, facilitated flow of scientists, experts and other human resources, possibly a sharing of institutional resources, but most importantly, working on science and technology platforms to seek solutions to common concerns as a region, she explained.

As APEC member economies develop their well-rounded human resources and innovators, its common staging ground is through institutions of higher education, Licuanan said.

“As science and innovation expand, we have to ensure that, as a region, we have a well-designed innovation ecosystem that is conducive to producing innovators, both in good numbers, as well as quality,” she said.

The two-day discussion, she said, will address common regional concerns, such as food production and security, environment, disaster risk reduction and response, climate change and energy, marine resources/systems — economy, biodiversity and conservation, smart analytics and engineering innovations, as well as health systems.

Licuanan also expressed hope that the dialogue would lead the regional grouping to agree on attaining Increased Mobility of Scientists and Experts, Academics and Researchers, and Cross-Border Education and Inter-University Collaboration.

As co-chair of the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education, Licuanan asked the participants to help one another in thinking about a possible launch pad on which to build functioning and sustainable partnerships, bilaterally and eventually, multilaterally.

Through the dialogue, she said, she expects APEC members to address human resource development issues in science and technology to optimize higher education institutions as platforms for developing 21st century innovators. PND (as)

Cabinet Secretary Almendras welcomes participants of tour of envoys, Tourism Directors
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Thursday welcomed the participants of the 1st Ambassadors, Consul Generals and Tourism Directors’ Tour (ACGTDT) for posts in the Pacific and Oceania, at the Heroes Hall of Malacañang Palace.

Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Virginia Benavidez and the country’s envoy to Australia Belen Anota led the participants of the ACGTDT, which is patterned after the ACGTDT for posts in North America conceptualized in 2005 by then Philippine Ambassador to Washington D.C. and now Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Joining Benavidez and Anota in the four-day tour are Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis (Sydney, Australia), Consul General Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa (Wellington, New Zealand), Honorary Consul Felix Pintado (Victoria, Australia), Gold Coast Councilor and incoming Honorary Consul for Queensland Margaret Grummit and former Honorary Consul in Victoria, Virginia Kalong, who is also managing director of Philippine Tours, which partnered with Rajah Tours to arrange the ACGTDT.

Also taking part in the ACGTDT are Honorary Vice Consul Virginia Russell, who is also an official of the Council of Auckland Philippine Organizations, Inc.; Maria Nanette Carillo (president of the charitable institution NZ-Philippines SCOT Foundation); Rajah Tours Philippines President Jose Clemente III, director of sales Jennylyn Pabilona-Santos and sales manager Jhoanna Rafols-Jose; and Filipino-Kiwi community members Lilia and Wendell Snelgrove, who are part of the successful Auckland leg of the Loboc Children’s Choir New Zealand Tour 2015.

Other participants are Florence Alley (member of the Nurses Association of the Victoria), Monina Raveche (member of the Pastoral Support Group of Victoria), business entrepreneur James Kaiklian, Theresa Medina-Ongkingco (director of the Filipino Chaplaincy Choir in Victoria), Australian Allan John McFadden (who is writing a play based on Noli Me Tangere), Imelda Dela Cruz, Myrna De La Pena and Myrna Reforma (parishioners of the Our Lady of Fatima Parish under Filipino-Australian Fr. Hamilton Ureta), Catherine Andres (president of the Filipino Community Cooperative Ltd. and former president of the Philippine Community Council of New South Wales), Marilyn Chun (founding president of the Ilocano Association of Australia), and Antonio Kalong and Emma Galang (members of the Filipino community of Victoria), Reynaldo Manoto (president of the Rizal Park Monument of Campbelltown), Marissa Manoto (secretary of the Mapua Alumni Association of Australia), Nenita Weekes (president of the Filipiniana Friends Group of Bathurst and Central West), Emma De Vera (president of The Filipino-Australian Consumer) and Lolita Ansman Singh (member of the Ilocano Association of Australia).

The ACGTDT, which is organized by the Department of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Department of Tourism, and Rajah Tours, is aimed at enticing the Filipino communities in the Pacific and Oceania to deepen their appreciation of the beauty of the country, its rich history, heritage and culture and attract them to see and visit the various tourist destinations in the Philippines; and assure travellers and tourists that the Philippines is a safe place to visit.

The tour also aims to attract investments, particularly in tourism projects, real estates and other tourism-related industries; promote medical tourism, as well as health and wellness programs, particularly in major destinations like Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan; promote the Philippines as a retirement haven; and contribute to the national economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings. PND (jm)

Like other APEC members, Philippines focuses on improving its higher education, says Science and Technology Secretary
The Philippines joins other member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in improving its higher education to advance science and technology (S&T) for further economic growth, a science and technology official said on Thursday.

In his welcome message during the 1st APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said there is a current trend in China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan of sending students to the best colleges and universities for better education.

World-class higher education institutions are rapidly emerging, with the support of governments that see knowledge and skills as key to providing a better quality of life for their citizens, he said.

“In the Philippines, we are strengthening our universities by establishing consortia that serve as a venue for discussion and exchange of ideas and experiences, to come up with innovations in tertiary S&T education programs,” Secretary Montejo said.

“Our science and technology scholarship programs are being re-engineered to respond to the direction and thrusts of our roadmap in S&T development, in producing the critical mass of highly trained scientists and engineers in the areas needed.”

Other government programs to strengthen the country’s tertiary education include capacity building for educators, support for research activities, and university partnerships.

The Department of Science and Technology hopes that the two-day dialogue on higher education would showcase the Philippine universities as world-class institutions that are able to produce globally competitive scientists, engineers, researchers, and educators, Montejo said.

With global integration, economies are clustering together and sharing strengths to uplift regional capability, he said, noting that this further highlights the significant role of higher education in the context of global integration.

In less than two decades, he said, the Asia-Pacific region has become the largest and fastest growing higher education sector worldwide.

Montejo cited studies conducted in 2011 that show countries of East and Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific have about 50 million tertiary students, compared to 14 million in 1991.

In 2011, APEC leaders made a commitment to set goals for regional student mobility by 2020 and other education goals shared by all 21 APEC member economies.

They affirmed to endorse one million intra-APEC university-level students per year by 2020, as well as support further work that will enhance the mobility of students, researchers, and education providers, and the network of existing bilateral agreements.

“Today’s high-level policy dialogue will surely contribute to the APEC leaders’ commitment for regional student mobility by 2020,” Montejo said.

“We are positive that APEC members share a far-reaching desire to empower our higher education institutions through regional collaborations and close the gap in terms of the differing levels of advancements in the existing higher education systems among economies.” PND (as)

Philippines luring investments for research and development, says official
The Philippines is attracting investments from multinational companies, encouraging them to put up their research and development (R&D) facilities in the country, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario G. Montejo has said.

During the 1st Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education on Thursday, Secretary Montejo said the country’s investments in human resources development in the field of science and technology has made the Philippines an emerging market for R&D activities.

He noted that three international companies and institutions are eyeing to build their R&D facilities in the Philippines — a Japanese firm for its motor parts and automation as well as computer parts R&D facility; a Swiss pharmaceutical firm; and a Dutch university interested in further R&D on the DOST’s Project Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards or Project NOAH.

The Japanese firm, he said, will need 500 scientists, once its operations start in the Philippines.

“Companies and institutions are looking at the Philippines as an area to go for R&D. It’s because of our people,” he said, noting that the Philippine government is spending billions of pesos for R&D facilities to strengthen the capability of local scientists.

“Because of the increasing number of scientists, the Philippines has become a location of choice for companies that are now in R&D activities,” the DOST chief said.

Montejo mentioned that aside from its talents, the Philippines is a cost-efficient market for R&D.

He added that during the dialogue, the Philippines will seek to intensify the cooperation among APEC member economies on bilateral arrangements for studies and research exchange to strengthen capacity building for human resources in science and technology. PNA (kc)

Philippines must focus on higher education niche area to be competitive, says official
The Philippines could develop a niche area in the higher education sector, considering the increase in the world demand for social workers and humanitarian relief workers, a government official said on Thursday.

In a press briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan said that although Philippine universities do not belong to the world’s top major universities, the country could create a niche where it could excel.

“Already there’s quite a bit of cross-border activities with students. The university mobility program is quite active and we expect that with more aggressive work in APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) that will increase as well as with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) integration,” Licuanan said.

She noted that “there is something in the Philippines that is quite attractive – its culture and its academic institutions,” even if they do not belong to the top 100 in the world.

One of the niches that the Philippines could develop is disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction, she said, adding that another area is marine biodiversity.

In the area of social sciences, Licuanan said they are thinking of humanitarian assistance, and humanitarian response, which are “very big things nowadays”.

The Philippines has a strong social science program, such as psychology, she said.

Licuanan also appealed to higher education institutions not to allow these “endangered” areas to die.

She said that due to financial constraints and the K to 12 basic education program, some universities are downsizing their programs, with important departments falling victim to these adjustments.

Equipped with discipline and academic training, Filipino workers are so adaptable that foreigners like them, she said.

Delegates of APEC member economies are meeting at the PICC for the APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education. PND (as)

APEC urged to adopt disaster risk reduction framework
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies are urged to adopt a framework on disaster risk reduction that will be proposed by the Philippines in an upcoming APEC meeting.

“The Philippines will formally push adoption of APEC on operations framework for disaster risk reduction in September,” said APEC 2015 National Organizing Council Undersecretary Ferdinand B. Cui Jr., at the briefing of the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education held here on Thursday.

Cui, who is also the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Vice Chair, mentioned that science and technology as well as higher education are fundamental enablers to develop disaster risk reduction capacity among APEC economies. He mentioned that disaster risk reduction and management is crucial for the Asia Pacific region with the recent typhoons, disasters, and other calamities that battered Asia Pacific countries.

“We need to respond in this global reality,” he said.

The Philippines, after experiencing one of the strongest typhoon in history — Typhoon Haiyan, is in the forefront of the framework, according to Cui.

He added that science and technology through higher education will help in mitigating risks brought by disasters and calamities.

“We see science and technology, innovation, and of course higher education at the forefront of the APEC discussion,” he said.

“Disaster risk reduction is common to Asia Pacific countries. We need to respond as one,” Cui stressed. “We are hoping that APEC economies will adopt the framework which we’re going to propose.” PNA (kc)

The Philippines must open up to allow entry of foreign experts, says official
The Philippines must open up a bit to allow the entry of foreign experts and talents who could contribute to the country’s academic sector, and research and development, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairperson Patricia Licuanan has said.

Licuanan said experts may stay in the Philippines permanently but some could stay in shorter terms.

“We’re thinking of greater mobility but in reality there are challenges. There are labor laws for instance, there are PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) regulations, which I think we’re still discussing,” she said during a press conference on Thursday.

She said the professional community agrees that there is something positive about having a mix of international experts come and go.

There is nothing particularly threatening about that and their presence is good, she said, noting that even such institutions as the University of the Philippines and the Asian Institute of Management have bemoaned the fact that it is very difficult for them to attract foreigners from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or from the West, to come to the Philippines.

Licuanan said it is not just the difference in salaries but also the very protectionist attitude of Filipinos in terms of having foreign experts to work in the Philippines.

“So perhaps, we have to open up just a little bit. But that is in the works,” she said.

For his part, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Senior Officials Meeting Chair Ferdinand Cui, Jr. said it is a tough balance between two frameworks: ensuring the quality for professional services and liberalizing the entry of science and technology experts and innovators to the Philippines.

It is a fact that the Philippines needs more scientists and innovators to develop the economy and sustain its growth, Cui said.

Another fact is that the country lacks scientists and innovators, so in the meantime, the focus is to attract foreign experts to come to the Philippines to share their expertise, he noted.

“The policy challenge here is that we have existing laws, rules and regulations,” he said.

“So there lies the issue of opening up in the interim and then ensuring that the level of professional services that are provided to our people are topnotch, which means they need to be regulated.”

Leaders of the APEC made a commitment in 2011 to set goals for regional student mobility by 2020 and other education goals shared by all 21 APEC member economies.

They agreed to endorse the target of one million intra-APEC university-level students per year by 2020, as well as support further work that will enhance the mobility of students, researchers, and education providers, as well as the network of existing bilateral agreements.

There is high hope that the ongoing two-day APEC High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science and Technology in Higher Education could contribute to the APEC leaders’ commitment for regional student mobility by 2020. PND (as)

Palace respects decision of bishops to refrain from endorsing politicians
The Palace said Thursday it respects the decision of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to refrain from endorsing any politician or political party for next year’s elections.

“Iginagalang po natin ang pananaw ng CBCP at anomang organisasyon, dahil nasa isang demokrasya naman po tayo at wala po naman kaming karapatan na mag-utos sa kahit sinomang indibidwal o organisasyon hinggil sa kanilang nais na pasya sa mga usaping pambansa,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

CBCP president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said in a pastoral letter, “As the political engine is revved for the presidential elections, we urge our lay persons to be actively engaged in the apostolate of evangelizing the political order.” “While the CBCP and the Catholic Church in the Philippines will never endorse a particular candidate or a particular party, leaving the consciences of voters sovereign in this respect, in keeping with long-accepted moral teachings of the Church, we commend efforts such as these to arrive at a collective discernment on the basis of Catholic standards and principles, that are not necessarily sectarian,” the prelate added. PND (ag)

Government stepping up infrastructure projects to solve traffic congestion, says Palace official
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Thursday said the government is doing its best to carry out infrastructure projects that would decongest traffic in Metro Manila.

“Patuloy na tinutukoy ng pamahalaan ang mga kinakailangang imprastruktura at mga hakbang para maibsan ang congestion dito sa Metro Manila,” Secretary Coloma said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

The Palace official said the government is getting technical support from the Japanese government to make a master plan to solve traffic problems.

“Mayroon nang mga nailatag na programa para diyan. Tumatanggap din tayo ng technical assistance from the Japanese government na hinggil sa pagkakaroon ng isang master plan to decongest Metro Manila dahil talaga namang napakaraming mga sasakyan, napakalaki ng populasyon dito sa National Capital Region,” Coloma explained.

He said the country’s improving economy has resulted in an increase in car sales and mushrooming housing infrastructure in the metropolis.

“Dahil nga sa pag ganda ng ekonomiya, tumataas din ‘yung car sales at ang kapansin-pansin ding dami ng mga condominiums and housing projects within city centers. Dati kasi sa mga mas malayong lugar sila pero sa ngayon ‘yung mga makikita natin mismong sa mga central business district at mga business centers, doon itinatayo ang mga high-rise residential condominiums na nagpapadagdag lalo sa dami ng tao at sasakyan,” Coloma said.

“Kaya’t lahat ng mga iyan ay tinutukoy sa pamamagitan ng mga contingency measures, at sa pamamagitan din ng mga regular na programa ng MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) at iba pang mga ahensiya,” he added.

He said the government is committed to completing these infrastructure projects, which are included in the Philippine Development Plan from 2011 to 2016.

“Lahat ng mga maaaring gawin ay ginagawa at gagawin pa sa susunod na labing-isang buwan dahil ito naman ay tungkulin na dapat gampanan at ang ating ipinapatupad ay isang development program, ang Philippine Development Plan, na mula 2011 to 2016,” he said.

He also assured that the election ban will not in any way hamper the completion of the infrastructure projects.

“Kaya patuloy pa ring nagtatrabaho ang ating pamahalaan. Isinasaalang-alang din ‘yung binanggit mo kanina na constraint, which is the election ban. Meron po kasing pagbabawal sa pagsisimula ng mga ganyang proyekto within the time frame of the election campaign na magsisimula na sa first quarter of next year. Kaya isinasaalang-alang lahat ng mga konsiderasyon na ito,” Coloma said. PND (jm)

Malacañang ready to defend 2015 budget at Supreme Court
The Palace is ready to defend the 2015 national budget if it would be questioned at the Supreme Court, an official said on Thursday.

“Ayon nga sa ating nabatid na pahayag ni Senador (Panfilo) Lacson, naghahanda siya ng petisyon sa Korte Suprema hinggil sa ilang probisyon ng 2015 national budget. Handang tumugon at magpaliwanag ang pamahalaan sa anumang kwestyun o usapin na ihahain sa korte,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

Senator Lacson has claimed that there is Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) in the 2015 national budget, amounting to P6.2 billion for the alleged pet projects of lawmakers allied to the administration.

In July 2014, the High Tribunal declared the DAP as unconstitutional. It upheld the same decision last February. PND (ag)

Palace says Comelec move to lease new optical mark reader machines aims to fulfill mandate
Malacañang on Thursday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to lease new optimal mark reader machines to ensure the conduct of orderly and credible elections next year.

“The Commission on Elections’ decision to lease new optimal mark reader machines for the 2016 elections is in fulfillment of its constitutional mandate to ensure the conduct of orderly and credible elections,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement.

“We note that, according to (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista, this decision took into account timely delivery, adequate time for testing the new machines, and the need to address problems encountered in the past two elections. Citizen vigilance and support will go a long way toward enabling the Comelec to fulfill its mandate,” Secretary Coloma said. PND (jm)

Palace: Cabinet members free to choose whom to support in 2016 elections
Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. on Thursday affirmed that Cabinet members have the freedom to choose whom to support in next year’s presidential elections.

“Kung mayroong kalayaan ang bawat Cabinet member na pumili..? Siyempre naman, ang sagot diyan ay.., oo,” Secretary Coloma said during a press briefing press in Malacañang.

He said that while President Benigno S. Aquino III has endorsed Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II as the administration’s presidential bet, the Chief Executive will not impose his choice on members of his Cabinet.

“Kilala po natin ang Pangulo. Kahit kailanman po ay hindi siya namimilit. Ang kanya pong paraan ay pagbibigay ng katuwiran at pagbibigay ng pagkakataon na maunawaan ang kanyang polisiya at patakaran,” explained Coloma.

The Palace official said Cabinet members are united in supporting the continuity of the Aquino administration’s reform programs.

“Ang batid po natin, buong buo ang Gabinete po sa pagsuporta sa pagpapatuloy sa mga programa ng administrasyon, dahil iyan po ang sinumpaan nilang tungkulin,” he said.

“Ang bawat miyembro po ng Gabinete ay itinuturing na alter ego or the other self of the President. Kaya ang ginagampanan po ng mga miyembro ng Gabinete ay ang pagtupad sa kanilang tungkulin, pagpapatupad sa mga programa ng pamahalaan, pagpapatupad sa mga reporma, pagsulong sa mga adbokasiya ng administrasyon dahil ito ang kanilang tungkulin.”

President Aquino formally endorsed the presidential candidacy of fellow Liberal Party member Roxas at the Club Filipino in San Juan last month.

In his endorsement speech, the President noted the experience and integrity of Roxas, who has been credited for the booming business process outsourcing industry when he served as trade and industry secretary during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. PND (jm)

Palace: Philippines focused on diplomatic approach to settle South China Sea row
The Philippines is focused on pushing for a peaceful solution to its territorial row with China, a Malacañang official said on Thursday.

While there may be a reasonable basis for arms build-up, as projected by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the Philippine government’s diplomatic approach remains, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. told reporters during the daily press briefing.“Mayroong makatuwirang batayan si Justice Carpio para maglatag ng sitwasyon na maaaring maganap ‘yung tinatawag na arms build-up or defense build-up, pero ang focus po natin diyan ay hinggil doon sa rules-based, diplomatic approach to achieving a peaceful solution,” Secretary Coloma explained.

Justice Carpio said that unless the South China Sea issue is resolved, countries involved in the territorial dispute will boost their respective navies and air forces.

“Ang nabatid natin hinggil sa pakikipag-talakayan ni Justice Carpio sa mga miyembro ng Senado ay ito: Sinabi niya na mahalaga ‘yung pagkakaisa ng mga bansa sa ASEAN para makabuo ng isang unified stand at batid natin na nagsisikap ang mga bansa sa ASEAN na bigyan ng sustansiya ang Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea sa pamamagitan ng pagbubuo ng isang legally binding code of conduct. Iyan ang focus ng ating atensyon,” said Coloma.

On Tuesday, Chinese envoy Zhao Jianhua said China will start building facilities to support freedom of navigation, search and rescue efforts, and scientific research on the reclaimed islands.

Coloma said China should stop the construction work in the disputed waters, reiterating the Philippines’ position that was presented by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario during the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Malaysia.

“Sa nakaraang ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting ay ipinahayag ni Secretary Albert del Rosario na tatlong bagay ang ating hinihiling na itigil: una, itigil ang reclamation activities; ikalawa, itigil ang construction activities; at ikatlo, itigil ang anomang aksyon na nagpapataas ng tensyon sa rehiyon. Kaya’t iyan pa rin ang ating posisyon hinggil sa mga isinasagawang aksyon sa mga lugar na tinutukoy sa West Philippine Sea,” the Palace official said. PND (jm)

President Aquino: There is plenty of time to choose vice presidential bet
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday said there is plenty of time to choose the running mate of the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer for next year’s presidential election, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.The President endorsed Secretary Roxas last month but the interior secretary has yet to choose his vice president.

When asked if time is running out for the LP to name a vice presidential candidate, President Aquino replied, “No. At the end of the day, di ba ‘yung election is still in May and there is still plenty of time to introduce whoever will be the running mate of Secretary Mar.”

The LP and Roxas have been trying to get Senator Grace Poe as his running mate but the senator said she has not been formally asked.

President Aquino said no formal meeting has been scheduled with Poe.

“Ngayon, walang naka-schedule. Parang, I think we have all said our respective views. Like I said, the lines are still open, pero walang formal na meeting,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, President Aquino said he will meet with two potential candidates for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) post to be vacated by Roxas.

“Both seem to be willing pero gusto kong i-confirm sa kanila dahil, siyempre, lalo na the remaining 10 months or so, parang ang tail end… lalo na ng kampanya — grabe ang pressure na aabutin ng DILG secretary. Siguro kailangan ko namang makausap nang masinsinan ang dalawang ito,” he said.

“Ipinapatapos ko pa rin sa kanya (Roxas) lahat ng mga assignment niya up to the furthest extent possible. Siyempre ayaw natin magkaroon ng transition muna na made-delay na naman ang mga projects, especially sa informal settlers,” said the President on why he asked Roxas to extend his stay as DILG chief. PND (jm)