21 March 2017

PH to restore MOU with Myanmar on media and information
NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR — Communications Secretary Martin Andanar met with his counterpart Dr. Pe Myint, Union Minister, Ministry of Information on Monday, March 20 to express the Philippines’ intention to renew the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Ministry of Information of Myanmar in the field of news exchange, radio and television broadcasting, public relations, printing and publishing.

Present during the meeting at the Ministry of Information in Nay Pyi Taw were Maung Pe, Director General, Ministry of Information; U Kyaw Soe, Managing Director, News and Periodicals and Enterprise; U Myint Htway, Director General, Myanma Radio and Television; and U Myint Kyaw, Deputy Permanent Secretary.

The MOU would strengthen the cooperation between Philippines and Myanmar in the fields of cooperation which include: news exchange, radio and television broadcasting, information technology in terms of the use of computers and internet as means of information and dissemination of information, public relations, printing and publishing.

According to Andanar, the two countries will benefit from each other’s experiences in the field of radio and TV broadcasting, print, and the social media.

He said that a natural calamity for instance, may necessitate the help of other countries and governments to spread information on the situation on the ground.

Andanar added that he plans to have an exchange of personnel training between the two countries.

“We will give your people the necessary training in the Philippines. You can send them and make them work in our broadcast facilities,” he said.

Andanar said the Philippine government is rebuilding the Communications department particularly the Philippine News Agency, People’s Television, Radyo ng Bayan, Philippine Information Agency, Bureau of Communications Services, and the social media.
“This government is about institutionalizing reforms,” Andanar said as he outlined his programs in achieving the reforms he seeks to achieve in five years.

Andanar underscored the importance of sharing government information to the public.

“Government information is very important. We must be able to communicate government policy to the people,” he said.

In this age of faster delivery information, Andanar mentioned that there are many challenges citing social media and the internet.

“But then again, we look at those challenges as opportunities because it is easier for any government to communicate to its citizenry,” Andanar said.

Andanar mentioned and classified the areas of communications in the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“We have on-air, which represents radio and tv; online which represents social media; on-ground which represents our communications arms that goes straight to the people. These are the public information offices. That’s the Philippine Information Agency. And on-print – newspapers that we distribute. Our on-ground which is the Philippine Information Agency,” Andanar said. ###PND

PH-Thailand relations in upswing, FilCom and locals excited to see Duterte
Bangkok, Thailand – President Rodrigo Duterte arrives in Bangkok on March 20, immediately after a two-day stay in neighboring Myanmar, to start the official engagement with the Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha on March 21, followed by a meeting with the Filipino community on March 22.

“This year, we shall be observing 68 years of the establishment of our diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Thailand, at a time that the Philippines is hosting the chairmanship of ASEAN and also, at the same time, commemorating 50 years of the establishment of ASEAN,” said Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon in an interview.

More than 14,000 Filipinos, mostly professionals, are currently working in the Kingdom of Thailand. “Over half of this (number) are Filipino teachers in the English language and principally here in Bangkok,” Aragon said.

About 2,600 Filipinos of the 3,600 registered last year voted Duterte. The ambassador said that the Filipinos in Thailand are very supportive of the President’s anti-drug campaign.

More than 1,600 Filipinos have expressed interest by registering for the President’s meeting with the Filipino community on Wednesday evening.

‘Doing great’

“He is doing a great job,” said Julie Simeon Macariola, a Filipino high school teacher who came to the embassy to volunteer during the President’s visit, beamed with pride for the Philippine leader.

The popularity of the Philippine president, who turns 72 on March 28, has extended to the locals who consider him a new-found icon for his tough talk and leadership style. Aragon said that since the Philippine elections in 2016, the Thais have been very excited about President Duterte, and his forthcoming visit. The Thais speak positively of him, and were very touched when he came to pay respects for their beloved King in November 2016.

At least three bilateral agreements, namely on agriculture, tourism, and science & technology are expected to be signed between the two countries during President Duterte’s visit.

The close ties between the two countries were first established during the reign of the former King, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927-2016). Both countries were co-founders of the ASEAN, and the Philippines was able to formalize diplomatic relations with Thailand on June 14, 1949 in Washington DC.

“We have also established the mechanism of what we call the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation. We are hoping that this year, we can resume the holding of the 6th Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation. This is where all areas of cooperation will be discussed by the two governments,” Aragon said.

The long history of relations between the Philippines and Thailand may be traced back to the early 1960s when a number of Thai nationals went to the Philippines to study in schools and universities.

Both countries have established areas of cooperation involving security, political, economic, trade, educational, and socio-cultural matters.

“We also cooperate very closely for instance, in the climate change discussions; in the management of disasters, for which the Philippines is always exposed to natural disasters,” Aragon said.

Enhancing intra-ASEAN

Aragon views the role of President Duterte as important in increasing intra-ASEAN relationship.

“We would like to have a peaceful resolution for disputes through a code of conduct,” Aragon said, when asked to comment on Duterte’s foreign policy with China. “We all would like to live in peace, because it is only through peace that we can benefit economically. We need peace and stability so we can economically move forward,” she added.

Part of the agenda of the President’s visit is a meeting also on March 22 with the Thai business representatives from the Thai Chamber of Industry, Thai Chamber of Commerce, and the banking sector to inform them about the Duterte administration’s plans and programs to address the economic interests of both countries and why the Philippines is a good place for investment.

In the Philippines, the major investments of Thailand include construction materials, agro-processing, and energy. ###PCO-Content

President Duterte boosts cooperation with Myanmar
NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar—President Rodrigo Duterte capped his two-day visit here on Monday, March 20, with the Philippines’ commitment to expand its cooperation with Myanmar on a broad range of issues.

“As developing countries, we face similar and complex problems. We must not be afraid to confront them head on. We should use our friendship as a solid base for our fulcrum of collaboration that transformed challenges into opportunities,” President Duterte said in his toast remarks at the official dinner held at the Presidential Palace here.

In defense and security, Duterte said both countries “must work closer to address the threats of terrorism and violent extremism that undermine the economic progress we have so far achieved.”

“We should be unrelenting in our fight to dismantle the apparatus of the illegal drug trade. This menace is a challenge that knows no borders and affects all of us in the region,” he added.

In trade and investment, Duterte said both countries must sustain its growth rates so that everyone in the society could enjoy the blessings of prosperity.

Duterte described his first official visit in Myanmar as an auspicious time between the two countries, noting the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine-Myanmar bilateral relations last year.

“This year, we turn the page for a new chapter of ties that should rightly be strong and deeper,” he said.

According to Duterte, Philippine businesses are helping fuel growth to investments in key sectors in Myanmar such as pharmaceuticals and food and beverages.

“Philippine companies will remain keenly interested in the development potentials of Myanmar, which is among the highest in the region,” Duterte said.

Duterte noted the “proud presence” of Filipinos in Myanmar. Filipinos based in Myanmar are mostly teachers, lawyers, engineers and humanitarian workers.

The President also thanked the people of Myanmar for its timely assistance when the Philippines was hit by natural disasters, including typhoon “Pablo,” the earthquake in Bohol, and supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

The Philippines, on the other hand, is ready to support Myanmar in its own humanitarian challenges.

For his part, Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw said he is honored by the visit of President Duterte.

“Myanmar has always attached great importance to our relations with the Philippines,” he said.

He also said that Myanmar will “support and fully cooperate with the Philippines’ efforts towards the successful stewardship of ASEAN this year.”

“Myanmar looks forward to working closely with the Philippines and other member states to accelerate our efforts in the ASEAN community building process and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN in 2017 with innovative and forward-looking initiatives,” he said.###PND