11 May 2015

Philippine government addresses issue on trash-filled containers from Canada
(TORONTO, Canada) President Benigno S. Aquino III said the Philippine government has been taking the necessary steps to address the concerns regarding the shipping containers filled with wastes that arrived in the country from Canada.

President Aquino said the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has already filed criminal charges against the importer, Chronic Plastics, and the importing company’s licensed brokers for the illegal shipments.

Some 50 shipping containers filled with various wastes have been smuggled into Manila from Canada in June to August 2013.

During an interview with the Philippine media delegation covering his state visit to Canada, President Aquino said concerned government agencies have already taken steps to address the situation.

In February 2014, the BOC filed a complaint against Chronic Plastics and the company’s licensed brokers for violations of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, and the Toxic Substance and Hazardous Wastes and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 (Republic Act 6969).

In December 2014, after the preliminary investigation, the Prosecution filed a total of 15 criminal cases before the Manila Regional Trial Court against the importer and the importing company’s licensed customs brokers.

The Interagency Technical Working Group (TWG) spearheaded by DENR conducted Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) to determine the contents of the shipping containers.

The results of the WACS conducted revealed that the shipping containers contained “baled municipal solid wastes or garbage that contains residuals which cannot be recycled, but can be treated and disposed of.”

The TWG recommended that the “wastes be processed by recognized treatment and disposal facilities complying with the applicable environmental standards.”

“The wastes are considered hazardous. They’ve been in the Port of Manila for two years. They pose a risk to public health,” the President said.

President Aquino said the TWG recommended disposal of the wastes either through cement kiln co-processing or direct disposal in a landfill.

“The processing and disposal of the wastes will be conducted once the necessary court order is obtained,” the President added.

Last month, the RTC ordered the BOC to facilitate the disposal of the illegal shipments, and to immediately release the container vans to Le Soliel Shipping Agencies Inc. once the contents are properly disposed of.

“Currently, the Prosecution and the BOC are pursuing the necessary inventory, documentation, and photographing of the wastes prior to its disposal, to be used as evidence in the trial against the accused,” the President said. PND (co)

Filipinos in Canada impressed with Aquino’s leadership, governance — Consul General
(VANCOUVER, Canada) Members of the Filipino community in Canada lauded President Benigno S. Aquino III’s effective leadership and commitment to transparency and good governance.

During a meeting with the Filipino community here Saturday (Sunday in Manila), Philippine Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer said Filipinos here in Canada are impressed with the “significant accomplishments” under the Aquino administration.

“The community is impressed with your effective leadership and commitment to transparency and good governance. They are proud of the country’s strong economic growth and achievements,” Ferrer said.

“The community here shares your passion for inclusive growth and development and would like to see the country’s economic gains to be sustained in the years to come,” he added.

Ferrer also said the business and international community in this region also recognized the Aquino administration’s accomplishments, citing that some of the Canadian companies and enterprises based in British Columbia already have investments in the country and “are looking towards expanding these investments.”

President Aquino wrapped up his 3-day state visit to Canada with a meeting with the members of the Filipino community living and working in Vancouver before flying back to Manila.

Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia said President Aquino’s meeting with the members of the Filipino community “is a recognition of the outstanding contribution of the overseas Filipinos” in the country.

“It is also a testament of the Philippine government’s commitment to promote the welfare and advance the interests of all our kababayans overseas,” Ambassador Garcia told Filipino-Canadians here.

“Despite being away from home, they have not forgotten our country. In times of great tragedy like Typhoon Haiyan, they quickly mobilized their resources and gave immense contributions to the relief and rehabilitation efforts,” she said.

“As Filipinos we keep looking back and keep giving back to our families and communities back in the Philippines. This is why Filipinos here value good and upright governance back home and are very comforted by your leadership and steadfast pursuit for the straight and righteous path,” she added.

President Aquino and his official delegation returned to Manila Saturday evening (Sunday in Manila) after completing a successful 3-day state visit to Canada from May 7 to 9 and one-day working visit to Chicago, USA, on May 6. PND (co)

President Aquino trumpets transformation of PHL to Filipino community in Vancouver
(Vancouver, Canada) President Benigno Aquino III has reported the continuing reforms his administration has instituted in the Philippines when he met his “bosses” —- the Filipino community here in Vancouver, Canada on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

In his speech facing hundreds of Filipino Canadians here, President Aquino trumpeted the continuing transformation in the Philippines from being a corrupt country into a progressive nation brought about by good governance.

“Aminin ko ho, maski ako, pagkaupo bilang Pangulo, naisip ko ring parang imposibleng solusyunan ang mga problemang minana natin. Para po kasing kada araw, panibagong anomalya at dagdag na problema ang ating nadidiskubre. Pero hindi po tayo sumuko. Sa abot ng ating makakaya, tinutupad natin ang ating panata: Ipamana ang Pilipinas na di hamak na mas maunlad, kaysa ating dinatnan,” the President said.

“Maglilimang taon pa nga lang po tayo sa Daang Matuwid, pero nakikita na natin ang transpormasyon ng ating lipunan. Nagagawa na nating posible ang mga dating imposible. Itinututok natin ang paglilingkod, hindi sa sarili, hindi sa gawaing tiwali, kundi sa kapakanan ng mas nakakarami,” he added.

President Aquino boasted of the reforms being felt by the country in the economy, justice system, education, trade, employment, infrastructure development, weather forecasting system, and Armed Forces modernization.

“Ang tutok natin: ituloy ang ating agenda ng reporma. Kung dati, pangarap lang ang lahat ng ating napagtagumpayan, ngayon totoo na ang mga ito. Tinutugunan na natin ang mga problema, para hindi na ito maipamana pa sa susunod sa atin,” he said.

“Pinapalawak natin ang oportunidad sa bansa, at pinaghahandaan ang kinabukasan, para hindi na maging sapilitan ang pangingibang-bayan. Batid natin: Bigyan lang ng pagkakataon, tiyak, magpapakitang-gilas ang Pilipino,” he added.

Canada is home to about 700,000 Filipinos. Around 136,000 Filipinos reside in Vancouver.

With the presence of British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark and Minister of National Defense and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and Minister of International Trade Edward Fast, President Aquino thanked Canada’s government for taking care of the welfare of the Filipinos living and working in Canada.

“Their respective works in the aspects of cultural relations and trade have contributed in bringing our two nations closer to each other,” he said.

He described Premier Clark as a “partner” of the Filipino people.

He cited the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Cooperation in Human Resources Deployment and Development, which the Philippines signed with the Province of British Columbia.

“We indeed laud her efforts, and we hope to see more of her initiatives translate to the mutual benefit of our countrymen here, and the rest of the province and its communities,” said the President.

In her speech, Premier Clark commended the Filipinos for being “strivers.”

“People with a sense of adventure, people who are brave, people who are loyal and patriotic, people with resilience and a capacity for hard work and, most of all, the thing that we know the Filipino community best: strivers,” she said.

She also announced the opening of “a million new jobs” in the province in the next seven years.

“All of you, all of you can become part of that, should be a part of that in running businesses. In becoming people who are going in inter-trainings — lawyers, doctors, accountants, managers, pipe fitters, drivers, all of those jobs, all of those bleachers are available for British Columbians and people who want to participate,” she told Filipinos.

She also referred to temporary migrant workers as “potential new Canadians,” which elicited a loud applause from the crowd.

For the part of Minister Kenney, he also welcomed the growing population of Filipinos in Canada under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He said that Canada will continue to work closely with Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, whom he and Clark lauded for efforts to protect the rights of migrant workers in Canada.

Kenney said the Philippines will be the top country for Canadian humanitarian development assistance and a priority country for investment and trade.

He also reiterated the potential exploratory discussions towards having a free trade agreement between the Philippines and Canada.

“One of the decisions we have taken is to support the Filipino communities who are working hard to send remittances back home for their families, and so we decided to set up a framework for accountability, for remittance companies to put forth greater transparency, to encourage them to lower their remittance fees so people can send more of their support back to their families,” he said.

Vancouver is the last stop of President Aquino’s 3-day state visit in Canada. He also visited the cities of Ottawa and Toronto. PND (jb)

President Aquino returns from trip to USA, Canada
President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived in Manila early Monday from his state visit to Canada and his working visit to the City of Chicago in the United States.

Philippine Airlines flight PR001 that carried the President and his delegation from Vancouver, Canada, touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 3:02 a.m.

In his arrival speech, President Aquino said he had the opportunity to thank Canada’s Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for their country’s aid during the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda; its support for the peace process in Mindanao; and for the Canadian government’s move to name the Philippines as a Priority Emerging Market and a Country of Focus, which is expected to result in increased investments from Canada.

“Sa ating pakikipag-usap sa pamahalaan ng Canada, lalo pa nilang pinagtibay ang kanilang posisyong patuloy na suportahan ang Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng mga ODA (Official Development Assistance),” he said, noting that Canadian assistance amounted to US$111.95 million in 2014.

The President also reported that he discussed with Prime Minister Harper measures to strengthen the two countries’ Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

“Nariyan nga po ang offer mula sa Canadian Trade and Development Facility, upang mas epektibong mapasok ng ating small and medium enterprises ang mayabong na merkado ng Canada. Bilang host-economy naman ng APEC, makakatulong po ito sa prayoridad nating pagsulong ng mas masiglang ugnayan ng SMEs sa Asya-Pasipiko,” he said.

On security and the fight against crime and terrorism, he said Canada offered to help the government strengthen port security in the Philippines.

“Nilagdaan din natin sa Canada ang iba’t ibang kasunduan. Una po riyan ang Philippines-Canada Mutual Accountability Framework, na nagsusulong ng hayag at tapat na ugnayan at pakikipagtulungan sa ating mga bansa. 82 million Canadian dollars po ang indicative budget nila para sa mga inisyatibang saklaw ng kasunduang ito,” he said.

Also signed were the memoranda of understanding for occupational safety and health, as well as for human resource deployment and development, aimed at protecting the interests of Filipinos working in Canada.

“Nananabik na rin po tayo sa pagsisimula ng exploratory discussions sa posibilidad ng isang free trade agreement katuwang ang Canada. Oras na maisakatuparan ang ganitong kasunduan, pihado po na uunlad pa ang ating kalakalan, at manganganak ito ng trabaho at pagkakataon para sa mga Pilipino,” he said.

During his meetings with potential investors in Canada and the US, President Aquino said he promoted the various business opportunities open in the country, particularly those under the Public-Private Partnership.

“Sa Chicago, humarap tayo sa mga negosyanteng kasapi sa US Chamber of Commerce, US-ASEAN Business Council, at National Center for APEC; at ang ilan nga po sa kanila, nagpahiwatig ng pagnanais na magpalawig ng operasyon sa ating bansa,” he said.

In Toronto, Canada, he met with top banking and insurance companies grouped in the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada, such as Sun Life Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation.

“Sa pakikipagpulong natin sa kanila, kasabay ng hangaring i-expand ang mga naturang kompanya sa ating bansa, nabanggit ang posibilidad ng pagtatayo ng catastrophe and agricultural insurance. Pag-aaralan po natin ito, dahil sa malaking pakinabang ng ganitong uri ng serbisyo sa panahon ng sakuna. Pero pruweba lang po ito na talagang nahihimok na natin ang mga tanyag na kompanya na magtaya pa sa ating merkado,” he said.

The President further noted that a Canadian company has invested $20 million to build a waste-to-energy facility in the Philippines, which is expected to be completed this year.

“Oras na makumpleto, tinatayang aabot sa P8.5 billion ang kabuuang revenue na makakalap ng pamahalaan mula sa pasilidad na ito sa loob ng 30 taon,” he said.

Many have expressed interest in the country’s energy, tourism and agricultural sectors, he said.

“Ito naman pong biyahe natin, itinuturing nating puhunan para sa kinabukasan ng Pilipino. Kasabay ng pag-uwi ng mga napitas nating positibong bunga ngayon, nakapagpunla rin tayo ng mga binhing pihadong aanihin pa ng sambayanan sa mga darating na panahon,” President Aquino said.

At the airport to welcome the President were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya, Commission on Higher Education Chair Pactricia Licuanan, Presidential Adviser on Legislative Affairs Manuel Mamba, Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, and Pasay City Congresswoman Imelda Calixto Rubiano. PND (ag)

President Aquino monitors typhoon, volcano alerts while in North America
President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday that he was monitoring the development of Typhoon Dodong and Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon, while he was in North America.

“Kahit naman po nasa ibayong-dagat tayo, todo-bantay pa rin tayo sa mga pangyayari sa Pilipinas. Halimbawa lang po nito ang pagpasok ng Bagyong Dodong sa Philippine Area of Responsibility, at maging ang pagsumpong ng Mt. Bulusan,” the President said in his speech, shortly after arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Vancouver, Canada.

“Bagaman alam nating inaasikaso ng mga nakatalaga nating ahensya ang mga kababayan natin, di po tayo magiging kampante. Bago tayo makapagpahinga sa ano mang araw ay humihingi tayo ng direktang updates, at binabantayan ang sitwasyon,” he added.

According to news reports, Typhoon Dodong (international name Noul), which made landfall on Sunday in the province of Cagayan, has killed two people and forced more than 3,000 residents of Cagayan and Isabela to move to evacuation centers.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported that the storm, which has maintained its strength, was crossing the Batanes group of islands, as of 11 a.m. on Monday, and is expected to exit on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised the alert level at Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon from 0 (normal) to 1 (abnormal), after a steam-driven explosion was recorded on Wednesday. PND (ag)

President Aquino proud of Filipino communities in Chicago and Canada
President Benigno S. Aquino III has expressed his admiration and gratitude to the Filipino communities in Chicago and Canada during his arrival speech on Monday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The President had a one-day working visit to Chicago and headed to Canada for a three-day state visit that brought him to Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

Aside from government officials and business executives, President Aquino also met with various Filipino communities, which have made a good and lasting impression both in Chicago and Canada.

“Talaga pong nagbabago na ang pagtingin ng mundo, hindi lang sa Pilipinas, kundi maging sa mga kababayan nating namamalagi sa ibang bansa. Naaalala ko po ang mga sinabi sa atin ng mga pinunong tulad nina Mayor Rahm Emanuel ng Chicago, at Premier Christy Clark ng British Columbia. Parang hindi po sila maubusan ng papuri sa mga Pilipino. At sa iba’t ibang komunidad, nagpapakitang-gilas daw po ang mga Pinoy; talagang ramdam ang kanilang presensya at puwersa dahil sa kanilang kontribusyon sa pamayanan at lokal na ekonomiya,” he said.

The President also said the meet-and-greet session with overseas Filipino was aimed at personally thanking them for making the Philippines proud.

“Kaya nga po, ganoon na lang din ang pasasalamat natin sa mga kababayan natin sa ibayong dagat, na sa iba’t ibang larangan ay talaga namang itinataas ang ating bandila. Isa po ito sa mga dahilan ng pagbisita at pakikipag-kumustahan natin sa Filipino communities sa Chicago, Toronto, Ottawa, at Vancouver. Kung nandoon nga po kayo sa bawat venue, mararamdaman ninyo ang sigla at enerhiya ng ating mga kababayan. Malayo man sa bansa, batid nila ang pagbabagong sama-sama na nating natatamasa. Kasabay nito, ipinaramdam naman nila ang kanilang suporta at kahandaang makiambag pa sa ating agenda ng reporma,” he further said.

President Aquino said the government will continue to work hard to ensure a better future for the Filipinos.

“Hindi pa tayo kuntento sa mga nakakamit natin ngayon. Tuloy ang pagkayod ng inyong gobyerno. Tuloy ang pagpapalawak ng oportunidad sa pag-asenso sa ating bansa, pati na ang paghahanda sa kinabukasan, nang sa gayon, hindi na maging sapilitan kaninuman ang pangingibang-bayan,” he added. PND (jm)