17 June 2016

President Aquino says he congratulated President-elect Duterte, offered assistance
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he had congratulated President-elect Rodrigo Duterte during a brief telephone conversation on Thursday night and offered whatever assistance he could extend to the incoming leader.

The President said during an interview in Binondo on Friday, that Duterte’s people went to Malacañang Palace on Thursday to iron out the transition, and they got in touch with the Davao City mayor.

Asked by reporters how his conversation with Duterte went, particularly on his offer to assist, President Aquino said, “Parang ikinatuwa naman, hindi naman tinanggihan at parang pinasalamatan ‘yung alok natin na sabi ko: Kung anong maitutulong namin sa inyo o ngayon sa transition at saka pagkatapos, para hindi na kailangan, parang ma-reinvent the wheel kumbaga.”

Noting that he had good relations with Duterte in the past, the Chief Executive recalled that when he ran for public office several years ago, including as president, the Davao City mayor helped his campaign, which had a huge turnout.

He reiterated his willingness to help the incoming president through whatever means he could.

“So, when I get to see him, and actually I communicated this to (incoming Executive Secretary) Atty. Medialdea, na it is our hope, that the elections are over, we share one country, we’d like them to be able to build upon all of the things that we have started, we have implemented, and we have completed,” he said.

“So, we move further along the path of advancement for our country and our people. And to that I think, every patriot should be looking towards helping the incoming administration address the problems that are still here and the forthcoming problems that undoubtedly will happen in this period of global challenges,” he added.

Duterte’s staff met with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. on Thursday and Ochoa, according to the President, brought them to him.

They shared some of their experiences in the past six years, went through Malacañang, and proceeded to Malacañang Park, Bahay Pangarap, and various facilities within the park.

After that, they got in touch with President-elect Duterte, the President said, adding that they spoke for about a minute or so, during which time he congratulated the incoming president.

“I think we asked each other how we were and I reiterated the offer to be of assistance, in any and every manner that they need it. And, more or less, it was a pleasant conversation. That’s how it ended,” he said.

President Aquino hosted a lunch for the members of the Malacañang Press Corps in Binondo, Manila on Friday, thanking the Palace media for covering his activities in the past six years.

The President steps down from office on June 30. PND (as)

President Aquino hopes Philippines would be able to cope with future South China Sea challenges
Two weeks before leaving office, President Benigno S. Aquino III said he hopes the country would be better prepared to address the challenges posed by the International Arbitral Tribunal’s decision on the case filed by the Philippines against China.

In an interview in Binondo, Manila on Friday, the President was asked to comment on recent developments in the South China Sea, as well as the statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) following a regional meeting with China.

“Parati tayong curious kung ano ang nangyayari sa China domestically, which might impact international relations and everybody is presuming that there is a decision by the arbitral tribunal that will come out sometime soon,” the President said.

He said he wants to have a picture of what the “post-decision situation” would be and “try to look at differences or the nuisances of the messaging that comes out of China”.

“At the end of the day, I would want to have the country prepared to address this challenge, which is not a challenge I brought upon this country. From the ’70s, this has already been a problem and I think we have done what we can to advance having a resolution that is fair to all parties concerned,” he said.

Noting that Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras has not reported to him on what occurred during the ASEAN-China foreign ministers’ meeting, the President said he did not want to comment without a complete picture of what happened during the meeting.

On Thursday, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued the retracted statement of the ASEAN on tensions in the South China Sea.

The department said that the ASEAN foreign ministers expressed serious concerns over the developments in the disputed waters during their meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The ASEAN foreign ministers issued a statement on Tuesday night following a special ASEAN-China meeting in Kunming, Yunnan province in China.

The tough statement on the South China Sea was retracted as it may have offended the meeting host, previous reports said, citing a Malaysian official. PND (as)