16 March 2017

Duterte to Visit Myanmar, Thailand
President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled for an official visit to Myanmar on March 19 and 20, and then to the Kingdom of Thailand on March 20 to 22

The trips are part of the President’s introductory visits to neighboring Asian countries.

“Myanmar and Thailand are the only two remaining countries in the region that the President has not yet visited,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose announced in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang on March16, Thursday.

According to Jose, the President of Myanmar himself, U Htin Kyaw, had invited President Duterte to visit the country. President Duterte is set to have bilateral talks with President U Htin Kyaw, who will also host an official dinner in honor of the Philippine President. While in Myanmar, President Duterte will meet other high-level government officials, including State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

The President will also touch base with the Filipino community in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. “During these occasions, the President makes it  a point to apprise our countrymen about his administration’s priority programs and developments in the Philippines,” DFA spokesman said. Myanmar is home to approximately 1,800 Filipinos.

Data from the Embassy show that many Filipinos are employed in foreign firms and international organizations.

Philippines-Myanmar diplomatic relations are over 60 years old, with ties formally established in 1956. The Philippine embassy in Rangoon, now Yangon, was opened in 1958.

Myanmar is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), having joined the group in 1997 on the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN.

President Duterte last visited Thailand in November 2016, when he flew to Bangkok to pay his last respects to the late Thai monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

“During this visit to Thailand, the President and Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-Cha are scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting, where they are expected to discuss issues of mutual concern, including political, economic, agriculture, energy, education, and defense cooperation,” Jose said.

Duterte and the Thai officials are also expected to discuss ways to further increase the levels of two-way trade and investments between the countries, the welfare of Filipinos living and working in Thailand and the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017.

A number of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the President’s visit to Thailand.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Thailand were formally established in June 1949, and have steadily expanded and deepened since then.

The President is also set to meet the more than 16,000 Filipinos living and working in Thailand.

“The visits to Myanmar and Thailand demonstrate our leader’s resolve to forge stronger relations with our neighbor and cooperate closely with them in various areas of endeavor,” Jose said.###PND

Abella: DPWH opens mega bridge in Cagayan
Malacañang on Thursday welcomed developments in a main public thoroughfare that would benefit motorists in Northern Luzon and incentives for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the country.

In his regular press briefing on Thursday, March 16, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has opened the Mega Bridge in Cagayan Valley worth P631 million.“Aside from enhancing the trade and tourism of the regions of Cagayan Valley, Ilocos, and the Cordilleras, the newly constructed 825-meter bridge will also secure the safety and ease of transportation of the motorists, “ he explained.

Meanwhile, Abella announced that starting next month, returning OFWs need not pay the terminal fee once they arrive in the Philippines.

This, he said, as the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) together with representatives of air carriers.

“The MOA will remove the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC) or terminal fee of P550 for overseas Filipino workers effective 30th of April,” Abella said.

Relatedly, he announced that personal remittances have increased by 8.5 percent in January 2017.

Abella noted that “an 8.5 percent year-on-year increase for January in personal remittances from overseas Filipinos have amounted to US$2.4 billion.”

“Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco explained that the 13.5 percent growth in transfers from land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more contributes to the increase in personal remittances,” Abella added.

In the same briefing, the Presidential spokesperson said 44 Bohol farmer beneficiaries have received their Certificate of  Land Ownerships (CLOAs) from the government.

“The Department of Agrarian Reform has given Certificates of Land Ownership [Award] – totaling to [41.2495] hectares in Jagna, Alicia and Gatigbian, Bohol – to 44 farmer beneficiaries,” Abella said.

Citing figures from Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer Grace B. Fua, he said land acquisition and distribution (LAD) in Bohol has already reached an accomplishment rate of 97 percent.###PND