07 February 2015

APEC News Releases

APEC Philippines 2015 organizers host welcome dinner for APEC senior officials, delegates
(CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Angeles City) The APEC Philippines 2015 National Organizing Council, in cooperation with the Clark Development Corp., hosted Friday night a welcome dinner for senior officials and delegates attending the two-day Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) here.

In an interview, Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., the director general of the APEC Philippines 2015 National Organizing Committee, said they want to showcase central Luzon’s culture as well as its potentials, which is why they organized the event.

They want to introduce to the APEC delegates what Pampanga has to offer culturally, like its delicacies, music and hospitality said.

“Ito ay para maka-relax naman sila halfway through the meeting. Nagsimula sila today and then they will wrap up the session tomorrow. But before this, a week and a half ago nagsimula na ang mga meetings, 35 meetings altogether,” he said.

Paynor said that out of more than a thousand delegates that have been attending the meetings here, they expect that some 800 would attend the welcome dinner.

The dinner was held with giant Pampanga-made lanterns as background for the program. Pampanga is the lantern capital of the country, with provincial officials organizing annual lantern making contests participated by the province’s different municipalities.

Lanterns made in Pampanga have become an iconic symbol of the province and these products are being sold locally and even abroad.

Friday’s dinner also featured Pampanga’s Aetas performing a ritual and welcome dance to bless the delegates.

In her welcome remarks, Foreign Affairs Usec. Laura del Rosario, the SOM chair, introduced the ethnic minority, the Aetas, to APEC delegates.

This group of people just rely on nature, she said, noting that in the future, the country’s planners must consider the welfare of the these people as the Philippines moves towards modernization.

Although the Aetas were displaced when the Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991, they have survived and thrived for 25 years, she said.

“This is really a blessing of nature. This shows how heavens protect its creatures,” she said.

Del Rosario also highlighted Clark’s potentials to investors attending the events here.

Clark is more than 10,000 hectares, according to her, and if it is connected to Subic the land area could go as high as 20,000 hectares.

All these areas combined would eclipse the land mass of other APEC economies like Singapore, Brunei, and Hong Kong, she said.

“This also shows that there’s a lot of potentials in this area,” she noted. “If we carve this out into a city it can easily house seven to eight million Filipinos.”

What is interesting about Clark is that it is already developed, del Rosario said.

Clark has international schools, an off campus university, a college, a museum, an art gallery and an area for businesses, many hotels and golf courses, she said.

It also has amenities for leisure like resorts for swimming as well as a zip line, del Rosario said, adding Clark can be the city of the future. PND (as)

Indonesia’s President Widodo to meet President Aquino on Monday
Indonesian President Joko Widodo will pay a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III in Malacañang, Monday afternoon, for his first state visit to the Philippines upon the latter’s invitation.

In an interview over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan, Saturday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Widodo’s meeting with President Aquino would revolve around areas of mutual interest and concern between the Philippines and Indonesia.

“We are in discussions to further work out cooperation in various areas of mutual interest and concerns, such as migrant workers, technical-vocational skills upgrading, the combating of trafficking of narcotics, and educational visits,” Lacierda said.

Widodo is scheduled to arrive in the country at 5:00 p.m. Sunday at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. Lacierda said he would be given arrival honors upon entrance in Malacañang on Monday.

An expanded bilateral talk between Indonesian and Philippine government officials will be held as well and President Aquino will host a state dinner in honor of the visiting head of state.

Widodo’s visit to the Philippines from February 08 to 10 is considered by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as ‘introductory’ following his election as Indonesia’s president on October 20, 2014.

“In the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, it is tradition on the part of a new head of state to immediately conduct introductory visits to fellow ASEAN member states,” the DFA said in a press statement.

The Philippines is Widodo’s final stop in a three-country Southeast Asian trip following his state visits to Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam, the DFA said.

Indonesia was the Philippines’ 11th largest trade partner in 2013, with total trade amounting to US$3.62-billion, the DFA noted. Both nations also enjoy excellent bilateral relations and cooperate extensively in numerous areas.

“The two countries recently signed the landmark Agreement Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary, on 23 May 2014, effectively clarifying the maritime boundary between Southern Mindanao and North Sulawesi in Indonesia,” it added. PND (hdc)

Philippine initiatives garner support during APEC meetings in Clark
(CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Angeles City) APEC senior officials, gathering in the First Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) here in Clark have set the momentum for future discussions significant to each member economies, SOM Chair and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Laura del Rosario said on Saturday.Del Rosario, who conducted a press briefing Saturday, said in a statement that through the meetings in Clark, the initiatives being pushed by the Philippines have garnered wide support from other APEC member economies.

Among these initiatives include the development of the APEC Trade Repository that is expected to contribute to transparency and trade facilitation.

“We have also set the stage for the development of an SME Action Plan to foster the participation of SMEs in regional and global markets,” she said as senior officials wrapped up discussions on Saturday.

Also, APEC members agreed to push for the formulation of the APEC Services Cooperation Framework to build the competitiveness of the services sector and provide a common direction and coherence to the APEC’s trade of services.

“We look to achieving all this and more by the end of our host year,” del Rosario said.

The two-day meeting of senior officials has set the way forward for APEC-wide policy direction, integrating all the work being done in APEC’s committees, working groups and other fora, she said.

The Philippines’ host year revolves in the agenda of inclusive growth, she said. And this is tied up to four major priorities that the country has crafted: enhancing regional economic integration, fostering SME participation in regional and global markets, investing in human capital and building resilient communities.

Del Rosario also commended the aggressive involvement of the private sector in advancing APEC agenda through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

In addition, key APEC initiatives such as the Bogor goals, the Leaders’ Growth Strategy, and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific will be carried over this year during the country’s hosting.

APEC officials will meet in August in Cebu for the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting. PND (as)

Malacañang keeps faith on the power of diplomacy
Malacañang is keeping its faith on the power of diplomacy amid fresh allegations of ramming and poaching that developed off the disputed Bajo de Masinloc in Zambales recently.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda told the state-run Radyo ng Bayan in an interview Saturday that the Philippines would continue exercising the necessary diplomatic mechanisms in addressing the issue.

This is despite China’s apparent disregard, as some observers believed, for all the diplomatic protests already filed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regarding the matter.

“We have filed the necessary diplomatic protest because that’s an acknowledgment that we do not agree with what they (China) do. And diplomatically, while we seem to feel or we seem to think that it has no effect, that presents our protest; that presents action on the part of the Philippine government,” Lacierda said.

Two protests notes were handed over by the DFA last Wednesday to representatives of the Chinese Embassy in Manila concerning the January 22 and January 29 incidents in Bajo de Masinloc as reported by the Philippine Coast Guard.

The January 29 incident involved three Philippine-flagged fishing boats—F/V OG Barbie, F/V Ocean Glory 2 and F/V Ana Marie—being ‘intentionally rammed’ by Chinese Coast Guard Vessel 3412, “causing damage to the vessels and endangering the lives and safety of the Filipino fishermen on board,” the DFA said in its February 4 press statement.

“On 22 January 2015, at least 24 Chinese utility boats were seen collecting giant clams in the lagoon of Bajo de Masinloc, and Chinese fishing vessels were likewise spotted transporting collected giant clams,” it added.

The Philippines strongly protested these illegal activities with the DFA saying that China may have breached its obligations under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora by tolerating these harmful fishing practices of its nationals.

Lacierda said the government continues to ask third parties to look into the situation and seek their intervention so that China can be made to adhere to international law.

“That is why we have resorted to the international arbitration mechanisms as well as to the proposed ASEAN (Association of the Southeast Asian Nations) Code of Conduct on the South China Sea,” Lacierda said.

“Mahalaga pong mga international instruments ‘yan that can require proper behavior in the family of nations and we do expect China, since it claims and it is a member of the family of nations, to behave in accordance with international law,” he added.

Lacierda, meanwhile, reiterated that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) under the Department of Agriculture would continue providing safe fishing grounds to assist local fishermen along Bajo de Masinloc.

“Ang BFAR ang naglalagay ng mga payaw doon sa area so that magkakaroon pa ng pagkakataon ang ating mga mangingisda na magkaroon ng areas for fishing while this area, Bajo de Masinloc, is being in dispute right now,” he said. PND (hdc)

Philippines must include Science, Technology in curriculum to be competitive with other APEC member economies, says official
(CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Angeles City) The Philippines lags behind with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of education, especially in areas of science and technology, and it hampers the country’s growth potential, a foreign affairs official said.In a press briefing on Saturday at the conclusion of the APEC’s First Senior Officials’ Meeting here, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and SOM chair Laura Del Rosario said the country lacks education compared to South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

For instance in South Korea, its department of education is not doing its job alone. The Koreans call has the Korean Ministry of Education and Science and Technology, KSST, Del Rosario said.

It’s the same with Taiwan, she said, adding its education department is called Taiwan Ministry of Education and Science.

“For these countries, they focus more on science and technology in education because they realized that these enhance the students’ way of thinking, especially in making scientific conclusions,” she said.

In those countries they based their thinking on science and technology, she noted. The interventions of Japan and South Korea are anchored in a discipline that is tied up with science and technology, she said.

“You can observe that when the Korean connected their education to science and technology they were able to produce Samsung and LG, now they are fighting toe to toe with Apple and everybody else,” Del Rosario said.

“I think that’s our deficiency. If we could be able to reform our education system, make it more disciplined, and more engaging we will have another way of concluding at things.”

Using science in policy making is also useful, she said. Del Rosario said that when they design and discuss a policy there should be data.

“That’s why we’re very grateful that now we have an integrated way of doing our statistics and data under the National Statistics Authority,” she noted.

To make the country’s education system at par with other countries, the Aquino administration implemented the K to 12 Program that covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship.

The program covers six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School.

During the school year 2012-2013, there were 33 public high schools, public technical-vocational high schools, and higher education institutions that have implemented Grade 11.

This is a Research and Design (R&D) program to simulate different aspects of Senior High School in preparation for full nationwide implementation in School Year 2016-2017.

Modeling programs offered by these schools are based on students’ interests, community needs, and their respective capacities. PND (as)