03 June 2015

President Aquino asks Filipinos in Japan to support government reforms even after his term
(TOKYO, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III has encouraged members of the Filipino community in Japan to continue supporting the reforms he has initiated even after his term of office, which ends next year.

In his message during his get-together with Filipinos living and working in Japan, held at the Okura Hotel here on Tuesday evening, President Aquino highlighted the developments in the country that resulted from the reforms undertaken by his administration.

Through prudent spending and efficient management of the government, he said, his administration was able to advance reforms in the bureaucracy, education, social services, infrastructure, and health care, among others.

“Kaya ang tama po yatang pananaw at akin pong mungkahi: ‘Di ho ba kayo ang gumawa nito; kayo ang nagdala ng pagbabago, at kayo ang magpapatuloy nito?” he said.

“Marami na po talaga tayong narating, pero marami pa rin tayong kailangang gawin.”

Warning against a return to the old system when there were rampant abuses and corruption, the President said the fate of the country lies in the hands of the people, especially as the country gears up for next year’s presidential election.

“Uulitin ko po: Kayo ang gumawa ng pagbabago, at kayo ang magpapatuloy nito,” he told his compatriots.

“Nasa inyo ang pagpili ng tapat at matuwid na pinuno, na talaga namang gagamitin itong tinatamasa nating mas mataas na estado, upang lalo pang paangatin ang Pilipinas tungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pangarap.”

The Filipino people have the opportunity to continue the country’s positive transformation, he said.

The people should sustain these gains so that the future generations of Filipinos would benefit from these positive changes, he said. PND (as)

Japan’s monarch welcomes President Aquino in formal ceremony
(TOKYO, Japan) Japan’s Emperor Akihito on Wednesday morning received President Benigno S. Aquino III during a welcome ceremony held at the Imperial Palace.

President Aquino arrived at the Palace at 9:20 a.m. and was received by Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. The Philippine leader was then introduced to the ministers of the Japanese government.

During the state call, Emperor Akihito thanked the President for visiting Japan. The President in turn expressed his gratitude to the Emperor, especially for Japan’s contributions for the relief operations and the recovery of Eastern Visayas from the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

President Aquino was presented the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, the highest honor awarded to outstanding individuals by the Japanese monarchy. In return, the President awarded Emperor Akihito the Order of Lakandula with rank of Supremo.

The President was accompanied by members of his Cabinet who joined him in his four-day state visit to Japan. PND (as)

Government to announce another Public-Private Partnership project this month
(TOKYO, Japan) Another major Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project will be rolled out this month, President Aquino said here Tuesday.

In his message during the get-together with members of the Filipino community in Japan, held at the Okura Hotel, President Aquino said his administration has been aggressive in pursuing major PPP projects for the benefit of the country.

“Mula nga po Disyembre 2011 hanggang nitong Mayo, nakapag-award at nakapaglagda na ng siyam na PPP projects ang inyong pamahalaan at inaasahang madaragdagan pa ito ng isa ngayong buwan,” he said.

President Aquino reported that 15 PPP projects are in the pipeline, and are already in the process of procurement and roll-out.

He noted that under the “tuwid na daan” good governance, his administration has surpassed the number of solicited PPP projects approved under the past three administrations.

Only six PPP projects were approved during the Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo governments, he said.

Once the government rolls out the 15 projects already in the pipeline, including the nine projects already approved, there will be a total of 24 projects under the present government, he said.

“Apat na ulit po ito ng mga proyektong natapos kung kinumpara sa pinagsamang tatlong administrasyong nauna sa atin,” he said.

He attributed the increased participation of the private sector in PPP projects to the government’s anti-corruption initiatives.

Reforms in government have created a much better playing field for businesses, increasing competition among the players and boosting investor confidence, he said.

The President also lauded the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for its reform initiatives.

Under the leadership of Secretary Rogelio Singson, President Aquino said the DPWH has been choosing the right projects at the right cost with better quality and timetable.

Efficient management in the DPWH has resulted in P39 billion in savings as of March this year, he said. PND (as)

President Aquino says regional stability necessary to attain continued growth in Asia Pacific
(TOKYO, Japan) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Wednesday he believes regional stability must be maintained to attain continued economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his message during the Nikkei 21st International Conference on the Future of Asia, held at the Hotel Okura here, the president said maintaining an open sea lane in the South China Sea, which facilitates about 40 percent of global trade, is very important to regional growth.

He said Japan has been steadfast in demonstrating its solidarity with the Philippines as it advocates freedom of navigation and the rule of law in the face of China’s unlawful territorial claim.

“We are united in the belief that the continued growth of Asia necessitates an environment where freedom of navigation is uninterrupted, and where the rule of law is respected by all, with no exception,” President Aquino said.

He noted that all parties have expressed their desire to resolve the South China Sea issue through peaceful means under international law.

The Philippines, in particular, has pursued arbitration to clarify maritime entitlements, and has pushed for the expeditious conclusion of a legally binding ASEAN Code of Conduct, he added.

The President also thanked Japan for supporting the Philippines’ peaceful, lawful, and principled approach in resolving the dispute.

He said that his current state visit to Japan solidifies the country’s commitment with its friendship with the regional ally.

The President’s four-day state visit here is his sixth trip to the Asian neighbor. PND (as)

Palace: Number of MRT trains determined every day to ensure safety of commuters
Apologizing for the long queues that MRT commuters had to endure on Tuesday due to the lack of available trains, a Palace official explained that the number of trains deployed every day is determined on a daily basis to ensure the safety of passengers.“If you notice that day to day, the number of trains that are servicing the commuters do vary and that is because on a daily basis, it has to be determined if they are safe, if they will carry all the passengers from point A to point B. And we would really like to maintain the safety (of the passengers),” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a press briefing in Malacañang on Wednesday.

She further said that it is up to the Department of Transportation and Communications to study the proposal to regulate the number of passengers to prevent the frequent breakdown of the trains.

According to reports, only nine out of the 20 trains servicing the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) were operating as of 7 a.m. on Tuesday, with passenger queues stretching as far as a kilometer.

MRT General Manager Roman Buenafe said other trains were not used due to problems with air conditioning.

This prompted the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority to deploy MMDA shuttle buses to offer free rides to affected commuters. PND (ag)

Philippines cautious about joining Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
(TOKYO, Japan) The Philippines is cautiously studying whether or not to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) amid the country’s huge need for more infrastructure, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday.

“The Philippines, like any other country, has tremendous infrastructure needs,” the President said during the question-and-answer portion of the Nikkei 21st International Conference on the Future of Asia, held at the Hotel Okura here.

He specified the country’s need for an improved mass transportation system in the capital region.

“We have not indicated that we are ready to join also. We are actually under the stage—at the stage of studying the proposal to join this particular new entity,” he said.

The President said the country had a bad experience on concessional loans after his predecessor was allegedly given such a loan facility.

“The drawdowns from these loans were demanded very, very early that potentially could have led us to a cross-default, and we are studying the invitation to join the AIIB. We have to determine whether or not it is a net positive or not,” he explained.

The Philippine government, he said, is also looking into the governance structure of the AIIB and is trying to determine whether its economic assistance will not be subjected to the vagaries of politics between the Philippines and China, the lead proponent of the AIIB.

The President clarified that the Philippines has not declined to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being spearheaded by the United States.

So far, the Philippines has not been formally invited to join the TPP, he noted.

“We understand that the first countries that organized it have to finish various negotiations, and the regime that will be imposed will be the basis for inviting other members,” he said.

“We would want to go into all the free trade agreements (that are), hopefully, mutually beneficial for all parties concerned.” PND (as)