05 November 2015


President Aquino receives credentials of four new envoys
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed four new ambassadors to the Philippines who presented their credentials in Malacañang on Thursday.The President, together with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, met Aruni Ranaraja of Sri Lanka, European Union (EU) head of delegation to the Philippines Franz Jessen, Thierry Mathou of France, and Andrea Reichlin of Switzerland in separate courtesy calls at the Palace’s Music Room.

Ambassador Aruni Ranaraja has a Masters in International Relations degree from the State University of Kiev in Ukraine. She was formerly a director of the United Nations Multilateral Affairs, Human Rights and Conferences Division.

Ambassador Franz Jessen was former EU head of delegation to Vietnam and former head of division for China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Mongolia of the European External Action Service (Brussels). He was also former deputy head of delegation of the European Commission in Beijing. He has a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics from the Virginia Tech in the United States.

Ambassador Thierry Mathou earned his doctorate degrees in political sciences and Asian studies from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris in France and University of California in Berkeley. He served as ambassador to Myanmar and was former consul general at the French Embassy in China.

Aside from the Philippines, Ambassador Reichlin also has jurisdiction over Palau, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia. She was former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Sudan, and former head of Economic, Financial and European Affairs at the Swiss Embassy in Paris, France.

Assistant Secretary Minda Calaguian-Cruz of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs; Acting Assistant Secretary Adrian Bernie Candolada of the DFA’s Office of European Affairs; and foreign embassy officials were also present during the courtesy calls. PND (jm)

APEC hosting seen to boost standing of Philippine International Convention Center as an events venue
After 19 years, the Philippines is once again hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit on November 18 and 19.

Organized in 1989, the APEC aims to foster economic prosperity among Pacific Rim economies, with heavyweight members like the United States, Japan, Australia, China and Russia.

When the Philippines hosted the 4th APEC Summit in November 1996, the Ramos administration chose Subic Bay as the venue and made it presentable and comfortable to the foreign dignitaries.

The leaders met in a brand-new building equipped with state-of-the-art conference facilities. Several cabanas were even built to the specifications of their guests, who used them for, at most, only four hours.

This month, APEC economic leaders will meet at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Asia’s first international convention center, which had set a trend that led other countries to build their own convention centers.

According to PICC’s website, the convention center was designed by Filipino National Artist in Architecture Leandro Locsin. The PICC Complex formally opened on September 5, 1976 to host the World Bank’s International Monetary Fund Annual Meeting.

After the event, the PICC established itself as one of the most versatile event arenas in the Asia-Pacific region by being the venue of political summits, medical conventions, and performances of international artists as varied as Luciano Pavarotti, the Bolshoi Ballet, Ricky Martin and Burt Bacharach.

Built on reclaimed land along scenic Manila Bay in the Philippine capital, the PICC has more than 70,000 square meters of floor area and a range of facilities that can accommodate even large gatherings.

The PICC has five building modules: the Delegation Building, Secretariat Building, Plenary Hall, Reception Hall, and The Forum. These modules are versatile enough to be transformed into almost any number of settings for any kind of exhibition, convention or special event.

Strategically located at the heart of Manila, the PICC is also an architectural landmark that houses the paintings and sculptures of various Filipino masters.

It is a few minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and is close to major hotels, shopping malls, and other interesting tourist spots in Manila.

The center is a WiFi zone and has an IT Support team on hand to cater to IT requirements of organizers, such as wired and wireless Internet connectivity, virtual private network (VPN), web casting, and video conferencing.

All functions and meeting rooms have dedicated wired and wireless local area network control by unified tread management (UTM) for Internet bandwidth speed allocation.

The PICC is well-secured with round-the-clock closed circuit television cameras (CCTV). It is also equipped with baggage X-ray machines and metal detectors. Roving security guards ensure safety and security in and around the venues.
The PICC complex has ample parking spaces and can accommodate as many as 400 vehicles.

In June this year, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), a 1,000-member, Amsterdam-based world body, modestly ranked the Philippines in terms of attracting international events.

The PICC’s marketing and events management director, Dinah Gonzalez, has expressed optimism about the country’s international association events status.

“We hope that we (in the Philippines) will further improve our standing in the ICCA report by next year, considering that we went down by one notch in 2014 (from 49th in 2013 to 50th in 2014),” Gonzalez said.

However, the Philippine events industry and its ICCA ranking can improve, she said, citing “the country’s robust economy, improved peace and order situation; hotels and infrastructure developments; new roads for access and connectivity, and upgraded airports”.

The nation’s growing popularity as a tourist attraction “should (also) help boost our collective efforts towards attracting more international associations to choose the Philippines for their events”, Gonzalez added.

More importantly, the Philippines could improve its standing with the nation’s hosting of the upcoming APEC leaders’ meetings, she explained.

The nation can build on this achievement, Gonzalez said.

“We should definitely capitalize on the international exposure that our hosting of the APEC meetings would bring,” she said.

As the country holds its elections next year, the integrated marketing communications programs of the Department of Tourism must be carried over to the next administration, as these campaigns have proven to be effective in promoting the country globally, Gonzalez added. PND (as)

Philippines’ APEC hosting to have positive impact on country’s tourism, investments, says analyst
This year’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit has given the Philippines a “unique opportunity” to highlight the country’s economic potentials to companies and entrepreneurs throughout the region.

This was emphasized by sociopolitical analyst, De La Salle University Assistant Professor Richard Heydarian, as the Philippines gears up to host the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) to be held on November 18 and 19 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

“A successful and impressive hosting of the APEC will surely help sustain and even augment the (Philippines’) increasingly less bleak international image, and this may have some knock-on effects in the realm of tourism and investments,” said Heydarian, who is also an opinion columnist for international media outlets Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post.

“We will be in the global spotlight when world leaders gather here soon,” he added.

The AELM will gather leaders of 21 APEC member economies, among them Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States President Barack Obama, and up to 20,000 participants — support staff, security, media and businessmen.

Preparations for the meetings have been underway since last year, and the cities of Cebu and Iloilo have hosted related meetings.

The local governments of both provinces said the APEC delegation has boosted tourism in their respective cities, and more are expected to come after the delegates “enjoyed” the Filipino hospitality and local sites.

Malacañang also assured that the Philippines is ready to welcome the Asia-Pacific leaders later this month, and measures have been placed to deal with protesters and related security issues.

There would be road closures, no-fly zones, and traffic rerouting schemes during the summit week from November 16 to 20.

Heydarian however said that “it takes way more than hosting a single event to bring in quality investments and revamp our tourism sector”.

He noted that the Philippines must engage in massive infrastructure development and reduction of red tape to attract much needed investments. (APEC Communications Group)

10 ways APEC can protect the interests of small-scale fishermen and fish farmers
High-level officials responsible for food security in member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have moved to protect the interests of small-scale fishers and fish farmers in an effort to integrate them into global food chains.

In the Iloilo Plan of Action, which was adopted at the conclusion of the two-day APEC High Level Policy Dialogue on Food Security and Blue Economy hosted by Iloilo City last month, the high-level officials recognized the important role of small-scale fisheries to food security, nutrition and livelihoods of coastal communities, noting that the sector accounts for one-half of the global fish catch and considering that small-scale fishing communities are often economically and environmentally vulnerable.

The APEC officials said they were also aware that agribusiness offers opportunities for increased income and integration of small-scale fishers and fish farmers, cooperatives, associations, and other stakeholders in food supply chains.

In the Plan of Action, they enumerated 10 ways to increase food security and inclusive growth by promoting agribusiness, market development, and open and fair trade to enable the integration of small-scale fishers and fish farmers into global food chains. Member economies need to:

1.) Facilitate food trade in fish and aquaculture products while ensuring the sustainability of resources and their related environment;

2.) Enhance the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in agribusiness, and foster market integration and development of small-scale fishers and smallholder fish farmers, in particular women and indigenous communities, into the global fish and fish food chains;

3.) Strengthen public-private partnership on improving food safety and efficiency along supply chains;

4.) Enhance the APEC Oceans and Fisheries Working Group (OFWG) and the APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) and relevant APEC sub-fora collaboration on agribusiness in fishery and aquaculture, market development, cold chain technology, preservation practices of fish and fish products and trade in products of fisheries and aquaculture;

5.) Ensure the livelihoods of coastal communities, strengthen and improve capacity building on cold chain management and preservation practices of fish and fish products to small-scale fishers, smallholder fish farmers, including women and indigenous communities;

6.) Encourage agribusiness and market development to implement, as appropriate, certification schemes on aquatic products, and supply chain management to ensure sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, aquatic products traceability and food safety;

7.) Expand capacity building on fish seed quality, fish product quality and food safety standards for small-scale fishers and smallholder fish farmers, particularly women groups;

8.) Promote fish farm clusters through organizing production and marketing groups and cooperatives to enhance the capacity of small-scale holder fish farms to meet quality standards and market access;

9.) Foster cooperation on technology innovation between agribusiness, the science community and private sector industry to improve techniques, product quality and added value for upgrading the aquaculture sector; and

10.) Facilitate investment and public-private partnerships on infrastructure building in fisheries and aquaculture to contribute to food security.

These recommendations will be presented to the APEC Leaders during their upcoming meeting in Manila. (APEC Communications Group)