18 Feb 2016

President Aquino meets with Walt Disney, other business executives in Los Angeles
(LOS ANGELES, California) As part of the agenda of his working visit to the city, President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday met with top exectuives of three leading global corporations based in Los Angeles.

Following his participation in the Special US-ASEAN Summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, President Aquino and the Philippine delegation traveled to Los Angeles for a two-day working visit.

President Aquino began his working visit with a series of business meetings at the Intercontinental Hotel. He met first with the exectuives of Walt Disney International, followed by Western Digital Corporation, and then AECOM’s Enterprise Growth Solutions.

“All three companies signified to the President their top-of-mind preference for the Philippines as an investment venue and source of high-quality talent and for Philippine organizations as business partners,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., who joined the President in the meetings, said.

During the meeting, Secretary Coloma said Walt Disney Chairperson Andy Bird told the President that there are possibilities for tapping into the robust talent pool of creative Filipinos just like Ronnie del Carmen (co-director of Pixar’s Inside Out), Bobby Pontillas (one of the animators for Disney’s Frozen), Armand Serrano (Visual Development artist for Walt Disney Animation Studio who worked on Mulan, Tarzan, and Big Hero 6, among others), and Gini Santos (one of the animators for Pixar’s The Incredibles).

Secretary Coloma said Bird also cited Walt Disney’s commercial partnerships with big Philippine corporations, such as the SM Group and Globe Telecoms.

Walt Disney is one of the world’s biggest mass media and entertainment conglomerates and most recognizable brands.

President Aquino also spoke with officials of Western Digital Corporation (WDC), a global provider of solutions for the collection, storage, management, protection and use of digital content.

During the meeting, Secretary Coloma said President Aquino thanked WDC for employing over 10,000 Filipinos in its Philippine operations in various fields including manufacturing, engineering, quality, information technology, finance, site operations, human resources, and supply chain management.

Stephen Milligan, WDC chief executive officer, told the President that since 1994, their company has been a highly satisfied locator in the country’s export zones, on account of the excellent support provided by the Philippine Export Zone Authority headed by Director-General Lilia de Lima.

On Tuesday, President Aquino also had a meeting with officials of AECOM’s Enterprise Growth Solutions.

AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance) employs 1,230 Filipinos in its global operations and over a 1,000 more in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Philippine operations.

“They pledged to continue to participate actively in large infrastructure projects,” Secretary Coloma said.

Michael Donnelly, group President for AECOM’s Enterprise Growth Solutions was joined by Alma Madrazo, Philippines country leader, and Hugh Doyle, President for international development.

AECOM recently won the Clark Green City design competition and is also involved in, among others: the Mactan-Cebu International Airport passenger terminal building private-public partnership (PPP) project as concept designer; the Burgos wind and solar power project in Ilocos Norte, which is the biggest wind power facility in Southeast Asia; and in the Chevron Pandacan terminal decommissioning project.

President Aquino was also joined in the business meetings by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Adrian Cristobal, Jr., Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Climate Change Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Cuisia Jr.

“Much of the economic resurgence that the Philippines is experiencing today is attributable to the President’s active economic diplomacy. We have made remarkable strides in terms of restoring investor confidence and the challenge to us now is in sustaining this momentum and building on the gains we have achieved. We continue to consider US businesses as key partners in this endeavor,” Ambassador Cuisia said in a statement. PND (co)

US, ASEAN leaders issue Sunnylands declaration at the end of Summit
(LOS ANGELES, California) The leaders of the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) concluded their Special US-ASEAN Summit by issuing a joint statement titled the Sunnylands Declaration.

President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the first standalone summit between US President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian leaders held at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage.

The summit was divided into two sessions focusing on promoting an innovative, entrepreneurial ASEAN Economic Community; and protecting peace, prosperity, and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the conclusion of the summit, the US and ASEAN leaders issued the Sunnylands Declaration.

The declaration reaffirmed 17 key principles, which include “mutual respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality and political independence of all nations; and firm adherence to a rules-based regional and international order that upholds and protects the rights and privileges of all states.”

The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment “to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

The leaders, including President Aquino, also committed “to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, ensuring maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce; and to promote cooperation to address common challenges in the maritime domain.”

The declaration also pledged that the leaders would “lead on global issues such as terrorism and violent extremism,” and in combating trafficking in persons, drugs, wildlife and timber, as well as illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The US and 10 members of ASEAN also committed to “address climate change and develop a climate-resilient, environmentally sustainable ASEAN,” as well as to promote security and stability in cyberspace.

Moreover, leaders agreed to “support the advancement of a strong, stable, politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, people-oriented, people-centered and rules-based ASEAN Community.”

The declaration also committed to “strengthen people-to-people connectivity through programs that engage ASEAN and American citizens, particularly young people, and that promote opportunities for all our peoples, particularly the most vulnerable, to fulfill the vision of the ASEAN Community.”

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

President Aquino lauds outgoing Foreign Affairs Chief Albert del Rosario, says successor has ‘tough shoes to fill
(LOS ANGELES, California) President Benigno Aquino III said whoever will replace outgoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has a “tough shoes to fill.”In his interview with reporters at the Intercontinental Hotel here on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), President Aquino commended the 76-year-old Cabinet official for his exemplary service as head of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“This is the first time you gave me the opporunity na dapat pasalamatan natin si Albert,” he said during his traditional interview with the Philippine media delegation covering his 3-day visit in California.

The President recalled the “propensity” of Del Rosario for going to conflict-ridden countries like Libya even without his permission.

“Nung umpisa binibiro ko sabi ko: ‘Albert, I don’t relish negotiating for the safe release of my Secretary of Foreign Affairs,’ he quipped.

He described the official as a “blessing” bestowed upon him in his six-year administration.

“An area where I don’t really have that much expertise, he took in quite a lot of the burden and really performed his role as adviser. So, tough shoes to fill,” he said.

He admitted that del Rosario had to quit his post due to “severe health issues”, which he has been enduring for quite a long time.

“Maaawa tayo doon sa tao. Napansin naman niyo kapag nakatayo, naka-stoop, kung minsan naka-angle e. He really has severe health issues and this has been going on for quite some time. And the treatment that was expected to resolve it, especially the issue sa back, did not produce the anticipated result,” he said.

“The issue with the back makes it difficult for him to sit a long time, to stand up a long time and even to sleep. Any movement causes a lot of pain,” he added.

“Albert still is able to fulfill his functions but as a friend, as a fellow citizen, he has really borne a lot of the burden for a lot of us, for a very long time… Kailangan nating bawasan ‘yung burdens niya,” he said.

Del Rosario’s resignation will take effect on March 7.

Aquino said he has four people in mind to replace del Rosario but he has yet to meet with them.

He, meanwhile, denied that Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda is interested in the position.

“Hindi, hindi. Well, news sa akin iyan. Never niyang binanggit sa akin na interesado siya doon sa pwesto,” he said. PND (jb)

President Aquino receives honorary degree from Loyola Marymount University
(LOS ANGELES, California) President Benigno S. Aquino III was conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in a simple ceremony held here on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), the last day of his working visit.President Aquino received the honorary degree in recognition of his dedication to country, his integrity, and his embodiment of a Jesuit education.

“Loyola Marymount University bestows honorary degrees on persons who symbolize, in an outstanding manner, those values it cherishes as an academic community,” LMU Board of Trustees Chair Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead said.

“In honoring these persons, the University acknowledges that the life and work of an honoree also mirror the goals towards which all of us engaged in the search for the authentic meaning of human life strive,” Aikenhead added.
President Aquino received his diploma from LMU President Timothy Law Snyder.

In his message during the conferment ceremony, President Aquino trumpeted some of the government’s important programs to uplift the lives of the Filipinos back home.

The President cited the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program, which now covers 4.4 million Filipino households.
Under the program, the beneficiary-families get cash stipends, provided their children are attending school and are vaccinated, among other conditions. The program targets 4.6 million household beneficiaries for this year.

“There is a first cohort—we expanded the program to assist up to the high school level. The first cohort has graduated last year, and it produced about over 300,000 assisted students, 13,000-plus of whom were honor students,” he said.
President Aquino also cited TESDA’s technical-vocational scholarship programs.

“We have graduated something like a million in our technical-vocational work scholarship program. And the placement rate for all of these graduates, went from a low of 28 percent when we started out, to about 71 to 72 percent currently, which is defined as finding a job six months after graduation from the program,” he said.

“We believe also that the taxes that they pay in the first year of employment will already cover the cost of getting them through that program. So this becomes a self-perpetuating and self-generating endeavor,” he noted.

President Aquino attributed the country’ positive transformation to the Filipino people, saying this would not have been attained without their support and cooperation.

“I have not done all of these things. It is the people who elected me into office; it is the people who provide me with the backbone when I have to challenge all of the vested interests; it is the people who continuously express their support for the things that we are trying to do in reordering and changing our society,” he said.

President Aquino has received several honorary degrees from various universities, including the Fordham University in New York, the Sophia University in Tokyo, and the University of the Philippines Diliman.

The Loyola Marymount University is the third Jesuit institution to confer an honorary degree on the President.

The LMU is the largest Jesuit Catholic university for undergraduates in the Southwest, with more than 6,000 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. PND (co)