31 August 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino leads National Heroes Day rites
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Monday led the commemoration of National Heroes Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Upon his arrival, the President was accorded a 21-gun salute. He then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.

In his speech, President Aquino emphasized the importance of commemorating the heroism of those who had fought for the country.

“Taimtim nating ginugunita at tinitingala ang mga bantayog dito, bilang pagpupugay sa mga bayaning Pilipinong nanindigan, nagsakripisyo, at nag-alay ng buhay para sa kapwa at sa Inang Bayan. Lubos tayong nagpapasalamat sa mga kababayan nating buong-loob na sinuong ang panganib para ipaglaban ang tama at makatarungan; silang sinubok ang pananagutan at tinimbang ang paninindigan, at hindi nagkulang; silang mga humarap sa sangandaan, at piniling unahin ang interes ng mas nakararami, bago ang sarili,” he said.

The President noted that according to American-Jewish writer Cynthia Ozick, there are three ‘participant’ categories of the Holocaust — murderers, victims, and bystanders.

“Which are we most likely to become? When a whole population takes on the status of bystander, the victims are without allies; the criminals, unchecked, are strengthened; and only then do we need to speak of heroes,” he said, quoting Ozick.

“Totoo nga po: Kapag may nangyaring karahasan—may gumawa ng karahasan at may biktima ng karahasan; at kung hindi ikaw ang salarin, at hindi rin ikaw ang inapi, ano ang ginawa mo? Sa mga pagkakataong ito raw kinakailangan ang mga bayani. Dito lumilitaw at nangingibabaw ang kadakilaan ng ilang mga indibidwal,” he said.

He then urged the public to make a stand against unjust practices.

“Kapag may mali at di-makatuwiran sa lipunan—di ba’t kung manonood ka lang sa isang sulok, kung susunod ka lang sa dikta ng status quo, o magrereklamo nang walang inaalok na solusyon, di ba’t nakakadagdag ka lang sa problema, at pinapahaba ang pagdurusa ng iyong kapwa? Sa kabilang banda naman, kung may kahit isang taong titindig at haharang sa kanila para sabihing ‘Mali ang ginagawa ninyo. Hindi ako papayag na pagsamantalahan ninyo ang Pilipino,’ hindi po ba tiyak na mapapatid ang siklo ng panlalamang at kawalang-katarungan,” said the President.

The Chief Executive emphasized that in Philippine history—from the 1896 Revolution, to the country’s liberty from Spain in 1898, to the independence gained from the United States in 1946, to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, and to the solidarity the nation displayed in 2010—many Filipinos have proven that they can create meaningful change.
“Kaya nating iangat at paunlarin ang ating bansa. Ang kailangan lang, isang bayan tayong magkapit-bisig, kumilos, at magbayanihan, nang sa gayon hindi na kakailanganin pang iatang sa iilang balikat ang mas mabibigat na pasanin ng bansa. Gagaan ang dalahin ng bawat isa, at hindi na magagawang ipasa pa sa mga susunod na henerasyon ang anumang suliranin ng kasalukuyan,” President Aquino said.

Present during the ceremony were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno, Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hernando Iriberri, and members of the diplomatic corps. PND (ag)

Malacañang welcomes end of ‘Iglesia ni Cristo’ protest rally
A Palace official on Monday welcomed the decision of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members to end their five-day protest rally after a dialogue with the government.

Iglesia General Minister Bienvenido Santiago has issued a statement earlier, saying the dialogue had cleared up matters.

The five-day mass action was triggered by the illegal detention complaint filed by expelled minister Isaias Samson, Jr. before the Department of Justice against some members of the church council.

“Over the past few days, members of the Iglesia ni Cristo have gathered in key areas of Metro Manila. The mass action stems from their sentiments regarding a complaint filed by two of their members at the Department of Justice,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement issued on Monday.

Noting that their protests involved a disagreement, Secretary Lacierda said the question is whether calmer heads would prevail to resolve the disagreement peacefully through mutual respect.

“This was an important consideration for the government: Just as it was important to protect the rights of all, ensure public safety, and minimize opportunities for sowing mayhem, we knew that a truly long-term solution involved engendering an atmosphere of dialogue, which will result in deescalating the situation that created tensions in the first place. We were resolved not to inflame passions, which could have given an opening to those with selfish agendas to further exacerbate conflict. Diplomacy therefore was an important tool in avoiding unintended consequences,” he further said.

Lacierda said the government appreciated the INC leadership for telling their members to leave their gathering sites.

“Through good will and the convergence of efforts, the rule of law has been upheld. We appreciate the INC leadership’s directives for the withdrawal of their members from their gathering sites. We are thankful that no serious injuries came about these past few days, and that the public can now prepare to go to work and to school tomorrow (Tuesday) as the long weekend draws to a close,” he concluded. PND (jm)

People’s mental well-being, a major factor in economic development, says Health Chief
(CEBU CITY) Health Secretary Janette Garin highlighted on Sunday the important part that mental health plays in driving economic development in the Asia Pacific region.

In her keynote message during the opening the 5th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy here in Cebu City, Garin said that mental health, like other chronic illnesses, is now being recognized in the region.

“Mental and physical well-being are now equal partners. Many mental health illnesses can be prevented, allowing a culture of mental wellness to emerge and flourish,” Garin said.

“I am very pleased that the Philippines is taking a leadership role this year in promoting mental well-being. APEC has a very robust and innovative agenda to promote mental health and reduce stigma.”

APEC’s mental health meeting in Manila on August 25 assessed the needs and priorities of economies and paved the way for the launch this year of a digital hub to promote innovative collaborations between government, academia, and the private sector to address those needs, she added.

APEC member economies have a job to do, she said noting they must engage their finance and budget planners in their effort to mitigate the social and economic effects of ill health to society.

While economic planners regard health as cost, Garin said she believes giving attention to mental and physical well-being should be considered as investment.

Failing to do so would mean astronomical costs for the government, corporations and the people.

She pointed out that as more people are forced to retire early because of poor health, they become less productive and it impacts in a country’s economy.

Social welfare budget will be severely strained and government initiatives to overcome poverty will be compromised, she added.

Aside from mental health, among the chronic illnesses that pose major challenges to APEC economies include musculoskeletal and cardio vascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.

These diseases, she said, strip the people of their enjoyment of life, their families and their working potential. PND (as)

Philippines urges Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation to invest in health sector
(CEBU CITY) Diseases and illnesses cost the Philippines around 3 to 4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), highlighting the importance of investing in the health sector of the country and of other Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies in a bid to sustain economic development.

Peter Sheehan, research director at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies in Australia, cited the result of a study commissioned by the APEC Life Sciences Innovation Forum (LSIF) indicating the Philippine economic loss due to non-communicable diseases and poor mental health.

“The loss is currently about at 3-4 percent. We projected this to rise to about 6 percent by 2030, this is on the rising trajectory,” Sheehan said on the sidelines of a press briefing, noting these are just losses associated with absenteeism and presenteeism.

Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin underscored the need for member economies of APEC to promote good health in order to stimulate and sustain economic and social development.

“Good health allows citizens to reach their full productive potential, and the innovations that drive good health provide an economic return that is astounding,” she said at the opening of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held here Sunday.

Garin also cited the results of an earlier LSIF study that showed a return of $30 to $1 for investment in innovation and innovative approaches to maternal and child health.

The health chief thus urged APEC member economies to work engage their budget and finance planners in their efforts to mitigate the social and economic effects of ill-health.

“Economic planning and finance communities look at health as a cost. I would like to posit that mental and physical well-being should be regarded as investments, without which will result in astronomical costs to governments, corporations and our citizens,” she added.

Garin believed that investing in health is critical for reducing poverty and promoting inclusive growth.

“As more people are forced to retire early because of ill-health, the economy will become less productive, social welfare budgets will be severely strained and our work to alleviate poverty will be undone rapidly as significant segments of the population are thrown back into poverty,” she noted.

For his part, DOH Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the Philippines is embarking on a plan to develope health facilities based on the needs of people in both rural and urban areas.

“…We got the sin tax law passed (so) there is now a quite substantive amount of money at the disposal of our health department and other government agencies to come together and develop a meaningful use of that money in order to bring better health outcome to our people,” he said.

The APEC is holding its Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and Related Meetings here until Sept. 6. PNA (ldv)

APEC health ministers to endorse roadmap for ‘Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Initiative’ to leaders
(CEBU CITY) Health ministers from the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are working to develop a roadmap for the implementation of a new initiative to promote a healthy Asia Pacific by 2020, to be endorsed to APEC Leaders this November.

“Implementation of this roadmap would go a long way to addressing the struggle we all are facing on infectious and chronic disease,” said Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin at the opening of the 5th APEC High Level Meeting on Health and the Economy held here Sunday.

Garin said health ministers will endorse the roadmap and identify key areas where each of APEC member economy can take a lead in collective implementation.

The Roadmap for the “Healthy Asia Pacific 2020 Initiative” covers the critical success factors and immediate actions to ensure that the initiative is implemented in a meaningful, sustainable, cost-effective way to mitigate threats to the region’s people, trade and economic security.

DOH Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the roadmap covers critical areas, including prevention and control of priority diseases such as non-communicable and infectious ones.

“If we significantly cut them (diseases) down, it will then rebound to a healthy population. That will cut the cost of government expenditures as well as out-of-pocket expenditures,” Go said.

Meanwhile, Garin said other new initiatives the health ministers will endorse to APEC Leaders this November are those on infectious disease, chronic disease and fiscal implications of ill-health.

To address the cause of a number of infectious diseases which is the lack of a safe blood supply, she said the APEC members are working to launch the APEC Blood Supply Chain Partnership Training Network.

This will help build the capacity of laboratory managers and blood bankers and help them achieve international accreditation, she added.

Garin said they also target to launch a digital hub this year to promote innovative collaborations between governments, academia and the private sector on advancing mental well-being.

The APEC is holding its Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and Related Meetings here until Sept. 6. PNA (ldv)

Importance of global value chain services in generating jobs highlighted in APEC meeting
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) must take a deeper look at the role of services in global value chains (GVCs) due to their potential to become new sources of growth and jobs for the country and the region, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Monday.

“We would like to see greater participation of services in various GVCs that will increase productivity and add value to goods produced. In the process, these will create more jobs and make growth more inclusive,” said NEDA Deputy Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra.

Esguerra headed the Philippine delegation to the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting during the Joint Meeting of the APEC Group on Services and Market Access Group (GOS-MAG) on August 26.

In a paper for the APEC 2015 Research Project, the Philippine Institute of Development Studies explained that the value chain is the “full range of activities that firms and workers perform to bring a product from its conception to end use and beyond.”

According to the paper, GVCs reflect the fact that activities that constitute a value chain have generally been carried out in inter-firm networks on a global scale.

Global value chains account for more than 50 percent of global trade. Their significant role in international services trade creates a sense of urgency to make the services sector more competitive, Esguerra said, underscoring the need to focus more in this area.

The joint GOS-MAG meeting showcased studies of how select APEC member economies opened markets for services in specific sectors to benefit from participation in GVCs.

“This initiative is definitely a progressive move towards creating a better understanding of how our economies can maximize GVC participation and how APEC can create the appropriate policy environment conducive to the growth of services value chains,” said Esguerra.

He also noted the importance of developing innovative services within GVCs and prioritizing services in the development agenda, addressing services and investment restrictions, and achieving balance in regulatory reform.

Last year, the 26th Ministerial Meeting in China adopted the APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value Chains Development and Cooperation as a mechanism to strengthen mutual economic cooperation within the global value chain network.

Esguerra added that they hope to hasten the process of developing innovative services within GVCs in line with the China blueprint.

The Philippines can take advantage of the recent enactment of the landmark Competition Act to boost its services value chains and attain a more productive, innovative, and competitive services sector, he said.

The Competition Act is seen to attract investments and improve economic activities in the country by prohibiting the abuse of dominant position and leveling the playing field among businesses.

Initiatives related to GVCs, along with appropriate legal instruments, will contribute to the work on structural reform, which will also be tackled in the upcoming Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting on September 7 and 8, where the services sector is one of the priorities, he said. PND (as)

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation delegates well-secured in Cebu, says police official
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) No incident that threatened the safety of delegates attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings here has so far been recorded, a regional police official said on Monday.

“It could be because of the participation of not only all government agencies, but also the community. That’s why we are thankful to the community for their support for our operations,” chief of the Regional Directorial Staff in Central Visayas, Police Senior Superintendent Rey Lyndon Lawas, told reporters during a press briefing.

Lawas said they are heightening security in the province as more APEC delegates arrive in the coming days for high-level discussions.

“As part of the preparations for the whole APEC-related meetings in Cebu, and with the coming of more delegates, as well as high-level officials, we will also level up our security preparations,” he said, adding that more police personnel will be posted in critical areas.

So far, 1,492 delegates have arrived in Cebu, 300 of whom are local participants and more than 1,000 came from abroad.

Noting that they have been monitoring the crime rate since the first week of July, Lawas observed a 6 percent decrease in crime incidence from the first and second week of August, especially in Metro Cebu.

“This is probably because more policemen have been deployed to the field,” he said.

On the alleged anomaly regarding the food allowance of police personnel assigned to keep the peace and order, Lawas said they are willing to cooperate in the inquiry announced by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Based on the guidance of Task Force Cebu, the police command is ready to answer questions on the alleged anomaly, and the police leadership is ready to present documents, if necessary, he said.

“We have nothing to hide,” Lawas said. PND (as)

Philippines raising energy efficiency, use of renewable energy in APEC Cebu
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The Philippines will begin implementing next year a five-year action plan for energy efficiency and is increasing the use of renewable energy in a bid to address issues related to climate change.

Energy Undersecretary Donato Marcos bared these Philippine initiatives during the opening of the 46th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Expert Group on Energy Efficiency and Conservation (APEC EGEE&C) Meeting here Monday.

“I trust that APEC will tackle interventions to mitigate the effects of climate change through energy efficiency and push for an environment-friendly and developed economy,” he said.

For its part, the Philippines has come up with an Energy Efficiency Roadmap and its corresponding action plan, which the country will undertake from 2016 to 2020, Marcos said.

“This Roadmap is envisioned to be the master plan of the Philippines’ Department of Energy in achieving energy efficiency and conservation programs and activities to higher levels and define the role of the government in coming up with a range of measures aimed at improving energy efficiency, driven by legislative orders and decrees targeting energy-saving programs,” he noted.

Marcos said the action plan targets the energy-intensive transport, industrial, commercial and residential buildings, and the cross-sectoral sectors.

Moreover, the energy official said the Philippines is aggressive in the promotion and installation of renewable energy, as it recognizes the importance of addressing energy issues relevant to economic growth and development.

“As a matter of record, we rank second as the largest geothermal producer in the world with 1,868 MW (megawatts) installed capacity as of 2013, or equivalent to 10.78 percent of the total installed capacity of the country,” he pointed out.

For its energy efficiency programs, Marcos said, the country has generated energy savings of 1.6 million tons of oil equivalent for the same year.

“The Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the APEC’s unified goal of building strong partnerships towards economic development, as we are optimistic that with APEC support, our vision of harmonization and connectivity will come to excellent productive realization,” he further said.

The 46th APEC EGEE&C Meeting will discuss various priority areas, including energy efficiency policies and programs, and energy intensity and renewable energy goals. PNA (ldv)