17 December 2016

President’s Team tells “prosperity for all”
Spokesperson Ernesto Abella summed up the last leg of the Duterte administration’s visit to the neighboring countries Cambodia and Singapore for the year as an assurance to the public that the country is on the steady road “to prosperity and change.”

Speaking before the Malacañan reporters in a press briefing on Friday, December 16, in Singapore, Abella said, “We really like to encourage Filipinos to be able to work together towards a more positive nation building.”

Joining him in the panel were Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

Lopez said the administration is “on a good run” and every citizen is called upon to make economic growth an inclusive experience for all.

He acknowledges that the President’s team is working very had to “really solve poverty” and help improve the lives of the Filipino family. “Aangat ang lahat ng buhay ng Pilipino. Prosperity for all,” Lopez said.

Yasay described the visits to Cambodia and Singapore as “very fruitful and successful.” He cited the bilateral agreements of the Philippines with both the Singapore President Tony Tan and the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the areas of trade and investments.

“The result is that we had forged a much stronger relationship with Singapore and committed to strengthen our trade, investment, and commercial relationship,” Lopez said. Singapore is the fourth largest trading partner of the Philippines.

Lopez also expressed optimism in the opportunities that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is offering to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). RCEP involves Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India. “It’s quite important that we really have that robust and vibrant trading arrangement among the RCEP countries,” Lopez said.

Yasay, meanwhile, said that the tough stance of the Duterte administration in the fight against illegal drugs must be taken “in the context of the urgent priorities and needs on the ground.” He added that sharing of intelligence information involving law enforcement is one possible area of cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore.

The Foreign Secretary assured the public that the government remains committed to the rule of law and due process. He said that the critics’ concern on allegations of violation of human rights is being addressed “in the best way we can.”

He urged the international community to look at the pressing problem of the drug menace as a world problem.

“ASEAN as a regional group has committed to make sure that in the next few years, our efforts would bring about what we would call a drug-free ASEAN community,” Yasay said. ###MARO-CONTENT

Andanar: Inspired by Singapore’s goal to become a media hub in the region
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Singapore Minister of Communications and Information (MCI) Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim met on Thursday, December 15 in Singapore to explore opportunities for cooperative projects in the fields of media policy and information exchange, training and human resource development, co-production, and other mutual exchanges to improve bilateral relations between the two countries.

Accompanying Andanar was Dino A. C. Apolonio, president of government-owned and -run station PTV-4.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Philippines and Singapore in November 2007. Andanar is proposing to renew the MOU between the two countries.

Andanar acknowledged the high level of development of Singapore’s media industry, noting that over the years the country has been a destination of choice for some scholars and practitioners in serious pursuit of a media and communications career.

“The Philippines has much to learn from Singapore’s technology and is inspired by its goal to become a media hub in the region,” Andanar said.

Singapore’s MCI oversees the development of the information communication technology, cyber security, media and design sectors, the national library, national archives and public libraries, as well as the government’s information and public communication policies.

Mr. Ibrahim is a member of the governing People’s Action Party, and serves as Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and Minister-in-charge of Cyber Security.

Andanar was a popular TV news anchor and commentator before he was appointed as Communications chief under the Duterte administration.

Under his supervision at present are the different agencies of communication involving news and information, and television and radio stations, namely the Philippine Information Agency, the Philippine News Agency, PTV-4, IBC-13, and the PBS-Radyo ng Bayan.

On top of Andanar’s agenda as he visits the information and communications arm of each of the governments in the region is to establish a system to make news and information accessible, fast, and accurate.

Andanar has always been fascinated by technology, and his stint in government service is opening doors for him to witness and study how neighbors in the ASEAN region are working hard within their constraints and limitations to achieve a level of success in communication.

“Our role is to be the reliable source of information on how government delivers its promises to the people, especially in line with President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality,” Andanar said.

The Presidential Communications chief is planning ways to actualize the President’s vision to establish media hubs in Visayas and Mindanao for better public information and education.###MARO-CONTENT

President Duterte sees better partnership with Singapore
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed confidence that the relationship between the Philippines and Singapore will be elevated to greater heights, as he embarked on his state visit in the city-state.

“I say tonight we can and should look forward to a future of greater mutually beneficial collaboration,” President Duterte said in his toast remarks during the state banquet hosted by Singapore President Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday, December 15, at the Banquet Hall of Istana, the official residence and office of the President of Singapore.

President Duterte noted that his two-day state visit to Singapore seeks to “renew and reaffirm” the friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore.

“Tonight, I say we are drawn even closer as partners and friends. We have reason to celebrate,” Duterte said, noting that ties between the two nations were formally established close to fifty years ago.

“We work closely on political issues, pursuing principled positions on the rule of law in the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.

In addition, he said the two nations both reaffirm and respect the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

The Philippines and Singapore, according to the President Duterte, are committed to do their share in helping make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region “safe and secure” from traditional and emerging transnational threats.

In terms of improving growth, President Duterte said two-way trade and commerce will be further intensified. He added that opportunities are being broadened so both countries can attract increased investments.

President Duterte also noted that the presence of 180,000 Filipinos in the city-state is reflective of the “enduring friendship” between the two nations. Employed as professionals, highly skilled workers and in the domestic services sector, they have contributed significantly to Singapore’s economy.

The President also expressed gratitude for the “very warm welcome and exceptional hospitality” Singapore’s government and its people had accorded to him and his delegation.

“As I conclude my state visit, I am humbled by the show of trust, confidence, and amity,” he said.

For his part, Dr. Tan said the two countries enjoy a robust friendship “anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony, and prosperity for our countries and the region.”

He said that Singapore companies are keen to invest in the Philippines. It is the fourth largest trading partner of the Philippines with total trade amounting to 4.373 billion US dollars in the first half of 2016.

According to Dr. Tan, SIA Engineering and Singtel are Singaporean companies that can contribute to the development of quality infrastructure, urban planning, and information and communications technology services in the Philippines.

He also noted that IE (International Enterprise) Singapore assisted a number of Singaporean companies in the renewable energy and consumerism sectors secure their first projects in the Philippines.

“In line with the current administration’s priorities for inclusive economic development, IE Singapore is also encouraging Singaporean companies to venture beyond Metro Manila, into cities such as Davao and Cebu,” he said.

According to Dr. Tan, IE Singapore is devoting more resources to step up its presence in the Philippines next year “to better serve the growing interest of Singapore companies in the Philippine market.”

Before the state banquet, President Duterte was given a welcome ceremony at the Istana where he was welcomed by the Singaporean President.

The ceremony was followed by the Philippine leader’s separate meetings with Dr. Tan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We talked a lot about areas of mutual cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism and the fight against illegal drugs,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said. He added that the President’s meetings with the two leaders were “very engaging.” ###PND

Andanar on Duterte’s speech: Take his words seriously but not literally
“He is not a killer,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said when asked on BBC Newsday Friday, December 16, in Singapore about a recent controversial statement picked up by foreign media on Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s statement apparently admitting he killed three people when he was mayor of Davao City.

BBC Newsday’s anchor Rico Hizon played a portion of the President’s speech before asking the question.

“We don’t take all the President’s statements literally, but we take his statements seriously,” Andanar said during the interview.

The popular President of the Philippines has met disapproval from his critics who accuse him of being master player in the alleged Extra-judicial Killings supposedly happening under the watch of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine military since the administration launched an intensive drive against illegal drugs, corruption, and criminality.

“That is the style of the President, when he was mayor of Davao City. He wanted to instill fear in the hearts of criminals,” Andanar said to explain the unfiltered speech of Duterte, who, ironically, and to the frustration of critics in the international community, continues to enjoy a massive support base in the Philippines.

Duterte is known for going around Davao City on a motorcycle to patrol the streets and look for trouble to stop. Foreign news picked up the message that the motorbike-riding mayor went out of his way to look for trouble, hence creating an image that the tough-talking mayor initiated trouble or spent his time engaging residents making trouble or being trigger-happy most of the time.

The quoted portion of the President’s statement was taken from a recent business forum where he talked about the government’s relentless campaign on drugs and the inevitable reality of casualties as a result.###MARO-CONTENT

From the Office of the Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on the 80th Birthday of Pope Francis
The Palace greets Pope Francis a happy 80th birthday.

For more than three years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis has successfully inspired people around the world with his humble example, concern for the poor, and strong attention on God’s mercy.

The people of the Philippines, home of Asia’s largest Catholic population, remain grateful for the historic first visit of His Holiness to the country in 2015. His touching homily in Tacloban has left an indelible memory in the hearts of thousands, especially survivors of typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan.

We wish Pope Francis good health and good humor as he continues to guide us to build a more humane world.

Maligayang kaarawan sa Santo Papa!

Duterte to Singapore: PH is open for business
President Rodrigo Duterte wooed a group of business leaders in Singapore by discussing the many developments and reforms in the Philippines especially in the key growth sectors: energy and infrastructure.

“The Philippines is open for business and we welcome what you have to offer,” the President told them at the Jurong Ballroom of the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore on Friday, Dec. 17.

This would mean more investments and encouraging competition, putting an end to protectionism in industries that are monopolized. “More competition would only mean better services and affordability of quality products for all,” he said.

The President encouraged big businesses to invest in the Philippines by assuring them that his campaign against drugs and criminality have made the streets of the country much safer.

“Over the last few months, we’ve improved our peace and order situation. Filipinos today generally feel safer and the crime has remarkably dropped, especially in the urban areas,” Duterte told them.

The President said that his war against drugs and crime has won broad-based support among all socio-economic classes in the Philippines.

The focus in solving peace and order has been rewarded by a GDP of 7.1 percent growth during the first three months of the administration, according to Duterte. Manufacturing sector likewise jumped by almost 7% generating more decent jobs. Unemployment figures therefore improved to 4.7% , coming down from 5.4 and 6.5% in previous quarters.

Singapore is the country’s largest trading partner and the largest source of investments from ASEAN.

The Philippines’ attractiveness as an investment economic destination has also been cemented with the huge goodwill earned from the President’s visits, that generated investment pledges from China, Russia, Japan and Malaysia.

Duterte told the movers and shakers of the finance, petroleum and food industries in Singapore that the key to maintaining the Philippines’ economic momentum is infrastructure. “My administration is committed to raise infrastructure spending to 6 to 7 percent of the GDP, focusing investment on the bottlenecks – more importantly in transportation – that would lower the cost of doing business in the Philippines,” he said.

The administration has approved open for investment infrastructure projects worth nearly 20 billion, including a long-overdue roads, bridges, airports and an international port project.

The biggest project includes a railway system that would connect the entire Mindanao island. Various companies in Japan, China, and Korea are looking to participate.

The President said other big-ticket items that are up for grabs are power plants, a container port, toll ways and bridges, and special economic zones, all of which are being looked into by our biggest conglomerates, including San Miguel, Ayala, and Metro Pacific.

“Our economic and business sector continue to be generally upbeat due to a combination of prudent macroeconomic and promotional trade and investment policies,” Duterte said.

Duterte said that his administration is determined to cut red tape and corruption and make the Philippines more business friendly. He invited investors to come to the Philippines and gave them the assurance that their investments and profits are protected and that they can directly report to him if they are encountering problems in corruption or harassments.

“Our vision for my country is to uplift the quality life of Filipinos, properly nourished and healthy, educated and empowered to address inequality and bring prosperity for all,” he said.

Meanwhile, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met again with President Duterte on the last day of the Philippine leader’s state-visit.

The Singaporean Prime Minister hosted lunch in honor of the visiting leader at a simple yet modern food bar called the Coconut Club.

The two leaders had a bilateral meeting on Thursday at the Istana, the official residence and office of the President of Singapore.

The President and the Philippine delegation was served with Kerabu or salad with dried shrimp, peanuts, onions, and tomatoes and Nasi Lemak and Soto Ayam or coconut rice, fried chicken, fish fillet, anchovies, cucumber, fish cake, egg, and chili paste served with chicken herbal broth.

They also enjoyed Chendol, a chilled coconut milk with palm sugar syrup and pandan-flavored jelly.

On Thursday night, Singaporean President Dr. Tony Tan Kem Yang also hosted a state banquet in honor of President Duterte.

Before flying back to the Philippines, President Duterte dropped by the Singapore Botanic Garden where he was presented the orchid named after him.

Dendrobium Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Dendrobium Sonia Beauty x Dendrobium Urmila Nandey) is a compact, robust and vigorous hybrid which produces upright flower sprays that
bear up to 15 striking and well-arranged blooms. Its sepals and petals are violet-red, with lip of the same tone but darker complementing each bloom.###PND

PHL seeks unity with Cambodia and Singapore in fight vs illegal drugs
President Rodrigo Duterte arrived on Friday evening, December 16, from his successful back-to-back State Visits to Cambodia and Singapore, as he assured that the Philippines will further beef up its cooperation with the two countries in the fight against illegal drugs.

President Duterte arrived at the Davao International Airport at 11:50 pm Friday night.

In his arrival message, President Duterte said he had a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, wherein he said that they both recognized the “importance of working closely together to address the menace of the illegal drugs.”

Duterte also said he and the Cambodian leader discussed ways of strengthening cooperation against traditional and emerging transnational crimes.

President Duterte said the fight against illegal drugs was also emphasized in his meetings with Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We also stressed the danger posed on our respective societies by the illicit drug trade that is now tearing our social fabric apart and depriving our youth of our countries of their future,” Duterte said.

“Our efforts to combat illegal drugs will be relentless and comprehensive. With the support and assistance of our friends and the Philippines’ new budget, we are on track towards realizing our envisioned holistic strategy to effectively address illegal drugs,” he added.

During his meeting with the Filipino community in Singapore, President Duterte assured the Filipinos that the country is now safer with the administration’s war against criminality and illicit drug trade.

“Tignan mo ang crime rate ngayon. Halos wala. Magtanong ka doon. Magtawag ka nga, Kakalakad na sila,” Duterte said in his message to thousands of Filipinos in Singapore on Friday. Dec. 16 at the Max Pavilion at the Singapore Expo.

“My campaign against drug will not stop until the end of my term,” he said, adding that the fight against criminality and illegal drugs and corruption will be relentless and sustained.

President Duterte also encouraged the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to be assertive and create a scene to confront corruption present in Philippine government agencies.

“Learn to be assertive. ‘Yang pine-pwersa mo ang iyong karapatan. Anyway, if you get my cue properly, when you are in the right, stand your ground,” the President said.

The President ended his address by thanking Filipinos in Singaporean “from the bottom of my heart” for contributing to the economy and urged them to stand up for their rights.

The Philippine Embassy said Duterte garnered 80 percent of the total votes cast in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Duterte assured the Philippines’ cooperation with its ASEAN neighbors in fighting terrorism.

“We will intensify exchanges and coordinate on the best practices and the lessons learned to enhance our capacities to address terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization,” Duterte said.

“We will also use the resources at our disposal – including modern technology – to rid our maritime areas of threats such as piracy, kidnapping, human trafficking and gunrunning,” he added.

The President also underscored that the Philippines is open for business and that the country seeks to intensified two-way trade and investments with its ASEAN neighbors, noting that Singapore is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner.

President Duterte meanwhile confirmed that he sacked Bureau of Immigration officials who are involved in corrupt practices.

“I ran on a campaign of a clean government. I said before that corruption will have no place in my government. Now that I am President, I reaffirm this commitment,” Duterte said.

“Consistent with this electoral campaign, I have directed the dismissal of the two associate commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration who are now tainted with corruption. They will be held accountable for their actions. They will face the full force of the law,” he said.###PND