05 January 2017
Government to launch ASEAN 2017 hosting in Davao City next week
As the Philippines assumes the ASEAN chairmanship this year, the government will officially launch the ASEAN 2017 in Davao City on January 15 to raise awareness regarding the country’s summit hosting and its benefits, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.

“As the Philippines assumes chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 which also coincides with its 50th year anniversary, our stride is wade by a sense of pride and excitement as we step into the century and the world hand in hand,” he said at a press briefing in Malacañan on Thursday.

“We will officially launch ASEAN 2017 at the Davao SMX Convention Center and PCOO has partnered with different government agencies led by the Department of Tourism to create a memorable event that will set the tone to this important year-long commitment,” he added.

The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will be the lead committee on media affairs and communications to spread awareness and educate the public about the ASEAN, Andanar said.

While 81 percent of ASEAN citizens have heard of the regional grouping, only 24 percent have a basic understanding of what it is and its purpose, he explained, over people’s lack of awareness.

To inform the public, the PCOO plans to conduct roadshows all over the country and carry out those events throughout the year.

ASEAN representatives from PCOO will deliver talks, conduct seminars, and even distribute comics and other reading materials written in different Philippine dialects, according to Andanar.

Among the ASEAN 2017’s priorities include people-oriented and people-centered initiatives, peace and stability, maritime security and cooperation, inclusive and innovative-led growth, ASEAN resiliency and ASEAN as model of regionalism.

The ASEAN 2017 theme for this year is, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

The PCOO will also provide media coverage logistics for the ASEAN launch in Davao City on January 15, the 30th ASEAN Summit on April 2017, the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings coinciding with ASEAN’s 50th anniversary celebration in Metro Manila by August and the 31st ASEAN Summit in Clark, Pampanga in November, Andanar said.

Also during the same press briefing, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo said the issue of the South China Sea will be in the ASEAN 2017 agenda during the country’s hosting.

ASEAN members will be undertaking ongoing work throughout the year focusing on the unfinished Code of Conduct of the South China Sea and the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and the principles of the Code of Conduct, Manalo explained.

“In fact, one of our main goals this year in cooperation with China, not only Philippines but ASEAN and China, is to try and arrive at a framework for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by the end of the year, that will be one of our main priorities,” he said.

Aside from hosting the ASEAN Summits, the Philippines will also organize the ASEAN Plus Three, and the East Asia Summit with ASEAN’s dialogue partners, according to Manalo.

Asked about the country’s benefits from its ASEAN hosting, Manalo said the Philippines gains economically from a stronger ASEAN economy.

In terms of social welfare, there will be greater participation of the citizenry not only for the Philippines but for the entire region, he said, adding the Philippines’ hosting also expands its influence not only in the region but beyond.

The country also benefits in the area of security, combatting drugs, terrorism, and violent extremism as a result of enhanced cooperation among ASEAN member countries, he said.###PND

Japan Times: 2016 Best Year for Duterte in Asia
A Palace official on Thursday, January 5, welcomed the Japan Times article carrying the CNN story stating Asia’s Best Year goes to President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It’s heartening to know that certain media agencies are able to notice the good things the President is doing,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said.

Japan Times is the most widely read English language newspaper in Japan.

It will be recalled that CNN had named President Duterte as “Asia’s Big Winner” in 2016.

“For now, the Philippine leader’s unconventional moves seem a harbinger of things to come. This is no pivot to China, but a disruption of the old normal,” the article read.

“Rodrigo Duterte ended 2016 seeking to rebalance his nation’s ties, improve the life of the average Filipino and make the Philippines — a one-time economic and trade powerhouse — great again. And for that Asia’s Best Year goes to Duterte,” it added.

Just very recently, President Duterte was also named Person of the Year for 2016 by the Chinese Magazine Yazhou Zhoukan, the equivalent of Time magazine in the Chinese-speaking world.

Meanwhile, at the same press briefing, Abella said several government agencies would be working together to secure the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9.

The government agencies that would work to ensure a successful and secured holding of the Feast of the Black Nazarene include the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Health and the Manila City Department of Public Services.

The Feast of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo is among the biggest and oldest Catholic religious celebrations in the country.

Every January, the statue of the Black Nazarene laid on a carriage, is pulled around the streets of Quiapo by devotees, many who swear to the fulfillment of miracles or personal wishes.

The event’s growing popularity continues to attract more believers and devotees. It is estimated that this year’s event would be attended by millions of devotees.

Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, in the same briefing, added that the concerned government agencies have laid out their plans to keep the devotees of the black Nazarene safe from harm.

“We will try our best to really keep our people safe. This is why we have the PNP, the military, and the other armed groups in our government to really maintain peace and order and keep our people safe,” Sueno said.###PND