01 September 2015

APEC News Releases

President Aquino leads 2015 Ramon Magsaysay Awards Ceremony
President Benigno Aquino III on Monday led the conferment of awards to the five recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award this year.

In a ceremony at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City, President Aquino along with the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF) handed the Magsaysay Award plaque to Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa (Philippines), Kommaly Chanthavong (Laos), Anshu Gupta (India), Kyaw Thu (Myanmar), and Sanjiv Chaturvedi (India).

In his speech, the President used the 1882 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen titled “An Enemy of the People” to describe the lives of the awardees. The play tells the story of Dr. Thomas Stockmann who decided to speak the truth about the contamination of water at a town well-known for its spa despite strong opposition from town officials and being branded as enemy of the people.

“Our awardees here are the perfect examples of that. Each of them has transcended the “individual” perspective. Each of them has chosen to leave their comfort zones, and answer the call to serve more and more people, whether their immediate community, or all of society,” he said.

“To our awardees: You have all faced formidable opponents, from corrupt employees and officials in government, to the phenomenon of widespread poverty and inequality, and even to the way that time erodes our most valuable traditions. But you were not daunted; you have persevered, and continued to persevere, in order to protect justice, basic human rights, and our cultural heritage,” he added.

He recognized the contributions made by each awardee to their respective countries.

The only Filipino recipient of the award was Filipina Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa, who has been recognized for her crusade in preserving the endangered artistic heritage of the southern Philippines by teaching the dance style “pangalay.”

Two of the awardees were Indian, namely Anshu Gupta, founder of Goonjl, an organization focused on empowering marginalized people through the redistribution and processing of cloth as a sustainable development resource for the poor; and Sanjiv Chaturvedi, a public servant who has dedicated his life fighting corruption in their government.

Another female awardee was Kommaly Chanthavong who has been famous for silk-weaving in Laos, and known as the founder Phontong Handicraft Cooperative.

Completing the five was Kyaw Thu from Myanmar who has been recognized in addressing the fundamentals needs of both the living and the dead through his foundation that offers free burial services, medical assistance, vocational training and humanitarian assistance.

“None of our awardees embarked on these journeys out of a desire for fame and fortune; none of you chose to take on these responsibilities because you thought that they were simple or easy,” President Aquino said.

“Real transformation requires real, backbreaking effort—and this is what you gave, willingly. In many ways, you are like the heroes that many of my countrymen remember on this day: those who struggled and endured hardship for a greater cause. It is only right that we are paying tribute to all of you on this occasion. You are the modern-day heroes that not only Filipinos, but all men and women all over the world need,” he added. PND (jb)

Cebu launches activity center to raise public awareness on APEC meetings
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The provincial government of Cebu, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), and Radio TV Malacañang (RTVM) on Tuesday launched the Cebu Activity Center to disseminate information to the grass roots regarding Cebu’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

“We are having this activity center to make the people understand what is APEC. What does APEC mean to us? We see the delegates coming. We see traffic, all sorts of news about APEC, but what really is the APEC?” provincial information officer, Ethel Natera, said during the activity center’s opening at the Provincial Capitol here.

“For us to give you more information, we launched this activity center. This will run starting today (Tuesday) until September 12.”

Students, members of the media, and bloggers are welcome to come to the Cebu Activity Center, Natera said, adding that the center has Internet connections and other amenities.

The resource speakers during the open forum were Tourism Regional Director Rowena Montecillo, Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte, and Assistant Secretary Lito Nadal of RTVM. Nadal is also the deputy director general for media relations of the APEC 2015 National Organizing Committee (NOC).

The discussion tackled Cebu’s traffic situation, peace and order, and efforts to promote the region as an investment and tourism destination.

The APEC 2015 NOC reported that as of Saturday, 54 of 87 meetings have been held. According to the committee, a total of 2,778 delegates have registered for the third Senior Officials’ Meeting and related meetings.

The APEC 2015 NOC has so far released 1,865 badges for the Cebu meetings. These badges identify participants in the various APEC-related activities. PND (as)

Philippines calls on fellow APEC members to intensify anti-terror cooperation
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The Philippines on Tuesday called on other Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies to intensify their cooperation in the fight against terrorism to foster security and resilience of businesses and communities.

Acting Executive Director of the Philippine Anti-Terrorism Council-Program Management Center, Oscar Valenzuela, said the threats of terrorism persist in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as in other countries.

“We live in a very complex world, one which is increasingly becoming more dangerous. Terrorism disrupts the normal and peaceful way of living of our people. It disrupts how we conduct our businesses, the way we travel,” he said during the opening of the sixth APEC Counter-Terrorism Working Group (CTWG) Meeting here.

He recognized that a threat like terrorism is difficult to combat, given the unconventional way terrorists act.

“Yet, we must not falter. We must be as determined as they (terrorists) are in protecting our citizens and our peaceful way of life. We have the knowledge, we have the necessary tools, to engage them head on,” said Valenzuela, the current chair of the CTWG.

“We must continue to adjust our security procedures, innovate and stay one step ahead. We must learn to think out of the box against an enemy which constantly changes as far as tactics are concerned,” he added.

Valenzuela underscored the need for the 21-member economies of the APEC to unite and help one another in the fight against terrorism, which is a key component in building sustainable and resilient communities, one of the priorities of the regional economic forum.

“Our economies cannot do it alone. It is in organizations and fora like the APEC where we can collaborate and cooperate. We have the opportunity to make a difference in this battle to keep the peace,” he noted.

The CTWG is holding its sixth meeting here on September 1 to 2 as part of the third APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM).

The working group has activities that are done in the four cross-cutting activity areas of the APEC Counter-Terrorism and Secure Trade Strategy: secure supply chains, secure travel, secure finance and secure infrastructure.

These are specifically aimed at addressing security concerns that can hamper trade and business.

Security of trade covers many aspects, from non-proliferation and export control measures to border control, and security in the transport of goods and people.

“Strengthening the security aspect of trade and business will greatly contribute to the stability and productivity in economic relations between APEC member economies. If security of trade measures are not given adequate importance, then it will leave the APEC members vulnerable to certain elements who may seek to disrupt commerce or take advantage of the system to advance their cause or even for their own personal gain,” said a statement released by the APEC media group. PNA (ldv)

Small enterprises are profiting from Cebu’s hosting of APEC, says Trade official
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Cebu province’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are already benefiting from its hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings, a trade official said on Tuesday.

Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte noted that the arrival of more than 2,000 APEC delegates in Cebu will have a big impact on Cebu’s supply chain.

“In the supply for the hotels for example, we can just visually figure out the one at the Radisson Hotel … where fruit shakes are free-flowing,” Caberte said during an open forum held at the Provincial Capitol here.

As hotels prepare local cuisines, they get raw food supplies from local producers, she said, adding that Cebu hotels are encouraged by the organizing committee of the APEC 2015 to prepare traditional fare to promote the region’s food and other products to the delegates.

Caberte further said that the demand for locally made scented candles is also growing, and this means more jobs for Cebuanos.

“So whether we like it or not, APEC is impacting on our MSMEs and this is money for them,” she said.

The trade official said they hope that through Cebu’s hosting of the APEC, these locally made products could be showcased abroad for the benefit of the Cebuanos. PND (as)

Cebu producers mount exhibits for APEC delegates
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) The regional office of the Department of Trade and Industry has partnered with local producers in organizing exhibits to showcase the province’s products to delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings.

Trade and Industry Regional Director Asteria Caberte said on Tuesday that they have launched the exhibit, “Exquisitely Filipino”, at SM Cebu’s north wing so APEC delegates could view locally made products.

“I hope you visited our exhibit dubbed as ‘Exquisitely Filipino’ at the north wing of SM Cebu. Eighteen top-of-the-line exhibitors and exporters are there to showcase their wares,” Caberte said during an open forum held at the Provincial Capitol here.

Being showcased are fashion accessories, furniture, office and home furnishings.

“The exhibit is open to the public and our APEC delegates. We strategically mounted it at the north wing (of SM Cebu) because that is adjacent to the Radisson Hotel where the bulk of the delegates would be coming,” she explained.

On Wednesday, the ‘Exquisitely Filipino’ exhibit will also be opened at the Atrium, another part of SM Cebu, where some 30 exhibitors and exporters are expected to participate.

“We are going to be more exclusive tomorrow (Wednesday, September 2) and this involves more people. We have prepared for this and of course, we hope to see sales generated from this activity,” she said.

Aside from the exhibit in Cebu City, Caberte said they will also showcase local products at the Shangri-La Mactan, in cooperation with the Department of Finance.

At the same time, Caberte reported that 10 exporters and manufacturers have volunteered to furnish the APEC VIP lounge of the Mactan International Airport.

The fixtures are still there and will be showcased until September 8, she said. PND (as)

President Aquino orders review of proposals to ease traffic congestion
President Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the review of proposals to ease traffic congestion in the metropolis during an inter-agency meeting in Malacañang on Tuesday.

“President Aquino ordered the review and fine-tuning of action proposals on easing traffic congestion and the submission of detailed implementation plans that take into account the need for holistic solutions, unified action among concerned government agencies, and heightened awareness to ensure citizen cooperation,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Secretary Coloma said that after the meeting, which was presided over by President Aquino, it was agreed that “priority action will be taken to clear six major intersections that are traffic congestion ‘choke points’ along EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), namely, Balintawak, Cubao, Ortigas, Shaw Boulevard, Guadalupe, and Taft Avenue”.

In his statement, Coloma also said the President approved the deployment of the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group to serve as the lead traffic law enforcement agency on EDSA, with continuing support from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Land Transportation Office, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

“Among the immediate action steps agreed were: (1) Stricter enforcement of the bus lanes along EDSA; (2) Clearing of obstructions on EDSA and alternate routes; (3) Continuing consultations with bus and public utility operators, truckers and port users and other stakeholders,” the statement concluded.

The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretary Jose Almendras, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan, PNP Chief Ricardo Marquez, and Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero, representing Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. PND (jm)

Cebu aims to be cruise ship destination of the Philippines
(CEBU CITY, Cebu) Cebu province is aggressively positioning itself as a cruise ship destination, given its comparative advantage in tourism.

“Yes, we do want to be included in the map… Cebu is the second destination outside Manila. We offer almost the same things that Manila can offer, with pluses because the beach area is very near,” Department of Tourism Region 7 Director Rowena Montecillo said during a press briefing here Tuesday.

Montecillo said her office is in talks with some of the biggest international cruise companies that can bring in more tourists to Cebu.

“Most of them are actually very interested in Cebu because tour packages are already in place. They can even sell another province, Bohol, which is very near Cebu,” she said.

Cebu plays host to several ministerial meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum from August 24 to September 11.

In line with this goal, Montecillo said the province is addressing the problem of the docking area for cruise ships.

“Right now, we have some problems with our port area. But the Cebu Port Authority is looking at another place, a town very near Cebu City to transfer all of these cargo ships so that the Cebu International Port (can) really concentrate on the cruise liners,” she said.

Montecillo said the tourism department is also gearing up for its plan to increase direct flights to Cebu.

“Since the third quarter of last year, we have added flights from Osaka and Nagoya (Japan) direct to Cebu and an additional flight, direct from Tokyo to Cebu. According to our Market Development Group, there will be more for Cebu this year,” she added. PNA (ldv)