23 November 2015

Filipino human rights lawyer among ASEAN Peoples’ awardees
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) recognized the recipients of the inaugural ASEAN Peoples’ Award on the sidelines of the 27th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits here.

Filipino Ray Paolo Santiago was one of the 10 recipients of the award honoring individuals or organizations who made contributions toward the creation of a united, prosperous and caring ASEAN Community.

Santiago heads the Ateneo Human Rights Center. He is also the secretary general of the ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism working group.

The other awardees were Singapore Polytechnic (ASEAN Outreach Thrust; Persatuan Basmi Dadah (Brunei); Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia; Prita Kemal Gani (Indonesia); Thasano Rice Research and Seed Multiplication Center (Laos); Parami Roundtable Group (Myanmar), Saisuree Chutikul (Thailand), Nguyen Manh Cam (Vietnam) and Malaysian politician Mohamad Ghazali Shafie (posthumously).

Ghazalie, who served as foreign minister and home minister during his career, was honored for his contributions towards the founding of the ASEAN.

Singapore Polytechnic won the award for including experimental learning into its curriculum. Through the ASEAN Outreach Thrust, students get involved in community-building projects to help improve the lives of people in other ASEAN countries.

Persatuan Basmi Dadah, a non-government organization, was selected for its anti-drugs activities with the help of volunteersvoters

The ASEAN Peoples’ Award promotes the achievements of the individuals or organizations in a broader latitude to community-building effort, including among others, in the areas of political, social and cultural development; economic integration; youth and livelihood education, volunteerism, community development and empowerment.

The winners, who were chosen by their respective countries, received a trophy and a US$10,000 cash grant to support and encourage them to continue their activities.

An exhibit showcasing their work and achievements is being held throughout the 27th ASEAN Summit at the KLCC. PND (jm)

President Aquino: ASEAN looks to Korea’s support for regional stability, prosperity
(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday recognized the importance of boosting the partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Republic of Korea during their 17th summit, held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center here.

“The partnership between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea spans almost a generation. As we strengthen our relations even further, we also look to Korea’s sustained and enhanced support for stability, resilience, and prosperity within the region,” President Aquino said in his intervention speech.

President Aquino expressed his gratitude to President Park Geun-hye for the “excellent hosting” of the 25th Commemorative Summit of ASEAN and the Republic of Korea last December.

“As demonstrated in that Summit, and in the various engagements between us, President Park and the people of Korea have stood as solid partners not only to the Philippines, but to all our brothers in ASEAN,” the President said.

President Aquino further acknowledged the effort of Korea in developing techniques and models to help address climate risk.

“As partners and neighboring countries, we have oftentimes found ourselves on the same side of many common concerns. I believe that, as nations sharing a single world, we all have a stake in addressing climate risk. I am thus reminded of what President Park shared with us during our meeting in Busan: climate change should be viewed both as a burden and an opportunity, particularly in developing new technologies and models. To my mind, applying such a philosophy further enables my people to build back better after disasters, and thus end the vicious cycle of devastation and reconstruction,” he said.

“As we climate-proof our path to development, the Philippines remains optimistic as regards Korea’s plan to develop new strategies, and the best practices that will result from such approaches. These go hand in hand with the efforts undertaken by the Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). By tapping into the GCF, Korea can better support the vital work done by the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, which continues to serve as a platform to better understand the impact of climate risk on our societies,” he said.

The President also assured Korea that the Philippines “will always be a responsible and reliable partner”.

“During our recent hosting of APEC, we said that by building more inclusive economies, we build a better world. I do not think it is an overstatement when I say that such a world is a shared aspiration. As President, I believe this to be an enduring truth, and it speaks of our collective capacity to bring about a better ASEAN, a better Asia, and a better global community,” President Aquino said. PND (jm)

President Aquino returns from ASEAN Summit in Malaysia
President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived early Monday following his successful participation in the 27th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In his statement upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2, President Aquino outlined the significant achievements of the ASEAN Summit, such as the signing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the establishment of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN Vision 2025.

“Kasama ang ibang pinuno sa Timog-Silangang Asya at ng ating mga dialogue partners tulad ng China, Japan, Korea, Estados Unidos, India, Australia, New Zealand, at United Nations, inilunsad natin ang ASEAN Community at ang ASEAN Vision 2025. Binabalangkas nito ang direksyong tatahakin ng rehiyon sa mga susunod na taon sa mga aspektong pang-seguridad, ekonomiya, at panlipunan,” he said.

“Dahil dito, mas iigting at lalawak ang pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa antas ng tinatawag na functional cooperation; ibig sabihin po nito, mas agaran at mas tutok ang mga kilos na ibubunga ng mga usapin sa ASEAN. Napakahalaga nito, lalo na sa harap ng mga isyung tulad ng sakuna, terorismo, pandemics, trafficking in persons, at iba pa,” he added.

During the summit, President Aquino also stressed the importance of peace and stability in the region, saying it is the responsibility of every nation to contribute to regional stability.

“Idiniin din po natin: Kung walang stabilidad, walang kaunlaran. Responsibilidad ng bawat bansa na makiambag sa pagkamit ng stabilidad, imbes na dumagdag sa tensiyon sa ating rehiyon. Sumang-ayon po ang nakakarami na dapat panindigan ang patas, mapayapa, at makatwirang resolusyong naaayon sa pandaigdig na batas,” he said.

“Napakalayo na nga po ng sitwasyong ito sa dinatnan natin noong mga una nating pagdalo sa ASEAN Summit: Dati, bilang na bilang ang mga handang makiambag ng kanilang tinig sa atin; ngayon, napakarami na nating kabalikat sa paninindigan. Ultimo nga po ang dating pinapakiusapan natin, ay sinabi na rin na kailangang magkaroon ng Code of Conduct.”

President Aquino further said that the administration’s firm commitment to good governance has borne fruits and has strengthened the trust and confidence, not only of the neighboring countries, but the rest of the world as well.

“Kita naman po ninyo: Sa pamamagitan ng mabuting pamamahala, naipunla natin ang mga binhi ng transpormasyon. Kasama sa matatamis na bungang inaani natin ngayon ang suporta at tiwala, hindi lang ng mga kapatid natin sa ASEAN, kundi pati ng mga dialogue partner na dumalo sa pagtitipon at ng buong daigdig,” he said.

President Aquino said that as he attended his last ASEAN Summit, he took the opportunity to bid goodbye to his fellow Southeast Asian leaders and thank them for their support and cooperation during his presidency.

“Maliban sa agarang pagtulong sa tuwing may kalamidad, na hindi na nga po natin kailangang makiusap pa ay dumarating na sila, nagpasalamat din tayo sa naging pagbabahagi ng punto de bista at karanasan, na nakatulong upang higit nating mapagtibay ang pakikipag-ugnayan sa kanilang mamamayan at pamahalaan,” the Chief Executive said.

President Aquino said the Philippines would be hosting the ASEAN Summit in 2017. With the series of reform measures undertaken by his administration in the past years, the President expressed confidence in the country’s readiness to host another international event.

“Mga Boss, sa panahong iyon, nakapili na kayo ng bagong pinuno. Tiwala ako na sa maganda nating nasimulan, at sa patuloy nating pagtahak sa Daang Matuwid, ay muli na naman nating mapapatunayan ang ating kakayahang magpakitang-gilas at makiambag sa pagsusulong ng malawakang kaunlaran,” he said.

“Tunay nga po: Sa inyong walang maliw na pagbibigay ng lakas, makapag-iiwan tayo sa susunod na henerasyon ng isang Pilipinas na higit na maunlad, matatag, at tinitingala sa pandaigdigang komunidad,” President Aquino said.

Established in August 1967, the ASEAN groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. PND (co)

President Aquino congratulates United Nations Chief for adoption of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) President Benigno S. Aquino III on Sunday commended United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for the successful adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In his intervention speech during the 7th ASEAN-UN Summit held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center here, President Aquino said the 2030 Agenda, as well as the ASEAN Vision 2025, should serve as a guide to the future of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership.

“On behalf of the Filipino people, I congratulate UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the successful adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Such goals serve as our social contract to our peoples and to future citizens of our region,” he said.

The Agenda, which aims to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030, was adopted by world leaders during the UN Sustainable Development Summit last September.

“Towards this end, the Philippines believes that the direction of our future ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership should be guided by the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Truly, our community has looked beyond the immediate future, towards a more dynamic, resilient, and prosperous ASEAN for the coming generations,” President Aquino said.

“The hard work we collectively undertake today is laying the groundwork for development that meaningfully addresses our shared challenges, which oftentimes stand as obstacles to the advancement of emerging societies such as our own,” he added.

One such challenge is climate risk, the President said, noting that the Philippines, which is in the process of building back better, is no stranger to the plight of island nations threatened by rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“We must all act together, lest we collectively suffer the consequences brought about by apathy and inaction,” he said.

President Aquino further pledged that the Philippines will continue to be at the forefront of addressing climate change.

“We will constructively work with the UN and our partners in this aspect. There is no shortage in the Philippines’ determination to play a more vital role. Our recently submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC, outlines our goal to reduce emissions by about 70 percent come 2030, conditional on the assistance of the international community,” he said.

In terms of collective security, the President underscored the UN’s fundamental and crucial role in maintaining peace and stability.

“We believe in the rules and norms forged by the international community, and it is for this reason that we undertook arbitration, among other initiatives, in resolving our dispute in the sea known by many names. The support we have received from the international community is truly encouraging, and we are further encouraged by the Arbitral Tribunal’s decision affirming jurisdiction over the Philippines’ case on the sea known by many names. We are committed to pursuing this case to its final conclusion. As a responsible member of the community of nations, we will abide by the legally binding decision of the Tribunal,” he said.

Noting that it was his last time to attend the ASEAN Summit as president of the Philippines, President Aquino thanked his colleagues “for the courtesy and camaraderie you have accorded me throughout my term”.

“I hope that, over the past years, I have done my share in bringing the dream of a solid and singular ASEAN Community closer to reality,” the President added.

Concluding his speech, President Aquino asked his colleagues to extend the same graciousness, understanding and friendship to his successor.

“As I return to life as a private citizen, be assured that while I may not be physically present as President of my country, I will remain with you in prayer and in spirit, as a true friend constantly advocating for the success of ASEAN and of your respective nations. As a final request, I ask that you extend to my successor the same graciousness, understanding, and friendship that I have experienced these past few years,” the President said. PND (jm)

Palace also wants to get immediate closure on Maguindanao massacre, says Spokesman
The government remains committed to serving justice to the victims of the Maguindanao massacre and their families but speeding up the trial solely rests on the judiciary, a Palace official said Monday.Responding to criticisms about the snail-paced trial of the case and the government’s alleged lack of political will to put closure on the massacre, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda emphasized that the administration, like everyone else, wants the case to be resolved as soon as possible.

“Make no mistake, we are very concerned also. We would certainly like to have the trial of the Ampatuan case hastened as well and, in fact, we do want to see a decision before the President leaves office. But is it something within our control? That is not within our control,” Secretary Lacierda told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang.

He noted that it is the Supreme Court that has administrative supervision over the courts hearing the case.

Since the judiciary is an independent branch of government, the executive branch can only convey to it the concerns of the public, “as we are also concerned with the pace of the trial”, he explained.

The Supreme Court has issued an en banc resolution devoting three judges aside from Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, who is the hearing judge.

“At the end of the day, it is with Judge Solis-Reyes and how she conducts a trial that makes a difference on the pacing of the Ampatuan case,” Lacierda said.

It is thus not fair for the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to accuse the government of lacking political will, he added.

“I believe it is unfair for the NUJP to accuse the President, to accuse the executive branch that we lack political will. We can say our concerns, we can voice our concern, but it is the Supreme Court, it is the court itself—the (regional trial) court branch 221—that has the final say on the Ampatuan trial,” he said.

The country on Monday commemorated the murder of 58 people, including 32 media practitioners, six years ago.

The primary suspect, Andal Ampatuan Jr., has a bail plea pending before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

Andal Ampatuan, Sr., also one of the primary suspects, died at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute last July. PND (as)

Malacañang hopes China would join the crafting of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea
The Palace has expressed hope that China would actively participate in the drawing up of a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to ensure regional stability.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a media briefing in Malacañang on Monday that China has been provided the draft of the Code of Conduct, which it is studying.

“Noon pa natin sinasabi, at ng ASEAN, na mahalagang magkaroon ng isang Code of Conduct dito sa South China Sea, dahil nga major part of trade happens in our waters in the West Philippine Sea, in the South China Sea,” Secretary Lacierda said.

“So it is very, very important for us to come up with a Code of Conduct, and hopefully, China will cooperate and will continue to have a discussion with the ASEAN nations on firming up the Code of Conduct,” he added.

Lacierda acknowledged that producing a binding code would take time. He however reiterated that what is important is that the countries involved would continue talking.

“Ang mahalaga, nag-uusap ang dalawang panig para magkaroon tayo ng Code of Conduct na magiging basis for relations insofar as the South China Sea is concerned,” he said.

It is in the interest of all the countries concerned to have a peaceful co-existence so that prosperity will be shared, he said, noting that with an unstable region, it would be difficult for everyone to promote trade.

Lacierda said all countries, including China, are conscious and aware of the need for regional stability, which will equate to a shared economic prosperity in the region.

On the case filed by the Philippines against China at the International Arbitral Tribunal, the Palace official expressed confidence that the country’s lawyers will successfully present its case.

“Again, we are very confident that our lawyers will be able to present a convincing case and that we, as always, have emphasized the rule of law,” he said.

“We have always been consistent whether it is with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), or whether it is with the Arbitral Tribunal, the President has always emphasized the primacy of the rule of law.” PND (as)