30 October 2015

APEC News Release

President Aquino attends 50th Foundation Anniversary of Eastern Samar
(ARTECHE, Eastern Samar) President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the celebration of Eastern Samar’s 50th founding anniversary and inspected the ongoing and completed infrastructure projects in Samar Island.

In his report to President Aquino, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson said his department has since last year been working on 1,081 kilometers (km) of national roads, 1,020 km of which have already been cemented.

Secretary Singson also noted that the P19.1 billion government allocation for Samar’s infrastructure development from 2011 to 2015, is almost double the amount allotted by the previous administration in its last few years.

He said there will be an increase of P7.5 billion in the 2016 budget, which is still being deliberated in Congress.

The Millennium Challenge Corp. has also provided nearly P10 billion to build a circumferential road in Samar. The 222-km Wright-Taft-Guiuan Road will be completed in May next year.

The Department of Public Works and Highways has also been able to pave 22 km of 83 km of the Taft-Arteche Road.

Singson said they expect this to be almost complete by December.

He further said that the Korean government is providing more than P1 billion for the construction of the 18.6-km Simora-Palapag Road, which is expected to be finished in 2017. The project includes the construction of three bridges.

The department has also completed the 21-km Catbalogan-Calbayog Road, while the Daang Maharlika is still under construction, said Singson. PND (as)

Palace mourns death of ex-Senator Ernesto Herrera
Malacañang has joined the nation in mourning the passing of former Senator Ernesto “Boy” Herrera.In a statement released on Friday, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. commended Herrera for being a great public servant.

“He served the country with distinction as a legislator, trade union leader, and as a human rights advocate, for which he also received international recognition. He will also be remembered as one of those who took a stand for restoring democracy in our land,” Secretary Coloma said.

Herrera died at the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to cardiac arrest. He was 73.

Known for being a staunch advocate of the rights of Filipino workers, he was the primary author of Republic Act 6715, which amended the Labor Code in 1989.

He served in the Senate from 1987 to 1998, and as district representative of Bohol from the 8th to 10th Congress.

Herrera was a member of the Agrava fact-finding board that investigated the 1983 assassination of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., father of incumbent President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The Senate will hold a necrological service for Herrera on Wednesday. His remains will then be flown to Cebu. PND (jb)

President Aquino expresses elation over U.N. Tribunal’s decision to hear Philippines’ case against China
(ARTECHE, Eastern Samar) President Benigno S. Aquino III said Friday he is glad that the Permanent Court of Arbitration has decided to accept the Philippines’ case against China on the South China Sea dispute.During an interview here, the President said that with the tribunal’s decision, the Philippines overcomes the initial challenge in its case against China—to determine whether the international arbitral tribunal has jurisdiction over the case.

“Napakatuwa natin na sinabi nitong tribunal na ito na meron nga silang jurisdiction, at doon sa press release na nabasa ko kanina, inaasahan na ang pangalawang mga tanong ay baka magkaroon na sila ng desisyon as early as next year,” he said, noting that had the court ruled otherwise, the case would no longer proceed.

“’Yung mabilis na kilos, medyo masalimuot ‘yung talakayan dito pero masasabi natin talagang sino ba naman ang hindi matutuwa na talagang parang umiiral ‘yon ngang tinatawag na rule of law.”

Asked how the ruling would affect Philippine-Chinese relations, President Aquino said he expects it to clarify things, especially on the rights and obligations of both countries under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Kapag wala nang malabo, maliwanag ang ating mga dapat sundin, at hindi ba magiging paraan ito para mas maging maaymagazine ng ugnayan ng isa’t isa,” he said.

On whether China would respect the recent developments, the President said that although China has refused to participate in the proceedings, the tribunal took into consideration the country’s position paper on the dispute.

The President said the tribunal had asked both parties, who are signatories to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to obey the convention.

He also said he hopes the ruling would not affect China’s participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that is being hosted by the Philippines.

The South China Sea issue is not the entirety of Philippine-Chinese relations, he emphasized.

President Aquino further said that when he attends the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Malaysia next month, he will once again push for the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

He said he would remind fellow leaders in the ASEAN that after agreeing on the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2012, there is a need to conclude the Code of Conduct.

“‘Ang boses na ating ibabahagi … na talagang dapat yata may urgency na matapos natin ang usapan at nang magkaroon tayo ng Code of Conduct. Isang bahagi ito doon sa ating interventions na gagawin sa ASEAN,” he said. PND (as)

President Aquino appoints Lawyer Emerson Carlos as New MMDA Chief
(ARTECHE, Eastern Samar) President Benigno S. Aquino III announced on Friday the appointment of Atty. Emerson Carlos as the new head of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), replacing Francis Tolentino.During an interview here, the President said Carlos, who has served as MMDA assistant general manager for operations, was recommended by Tolentino, who is gunning for a seat in the Senate in next year’s national elections.

Asked how the government would manage the traffic during the country’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and the Christmas holidays, he said the government is implementing both short- and long-term measures.

The President noted that the holding capacity of Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) has increased from 13,600 per hour to 18,000 per hour.

He admitted that he himself experiences what motorists and commuters have to endure when travelling along EDSA.

The Christmas holidays, he added, would be a nightmare, considering the sales and other promotions that malls along EDSA would be offering during the holiday season.

He explained that the deployment of the Highway Patrol Group to EDSA has freed MMDA employees to manage secondary roads, which have become congested with motorists avoiding EDSA.

The government once considered building modular ramps and flyovers but scrapped the plan because it would take too long to construct them, he said, adding that authorities continue to look for solutions.

The President appealed for more patience from the public because solving traffic congestion is not easy and there are social challenges that the government has to confront in searching for remedies.

Citing an example, he said that in building roads and other structures, there are right-of way and other issues that often end up in court.

Some government projects, like the Skyway Stage 3 and the NAIA Expressway, are now being challenged in court, he said.

The President said his government continues to address these traffic problems and holds a meeting practically every other week.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras is also monitoring the traffic situation in Metro Manila, he said. PND (as)

APEC Business Council to meet in Manila to develop recommendations to be presented to APEC leaders
Business leaders of member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) who comprise the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) are scheduled to meet in Manila on November 13 for the 4th ABAC Meeting, where they will continue to develop their recommendations on ways to bring about greater prosperity in the region through the promotion and advancement of inclusive growth.

These recommendations will be presented to APEC Leaders when they meet in November.

The ABAC, the official voice of business in the APEC, brings together business leaders from each of the APEC’s 21 member economies who are appointed by their respective heads of government/state.

These business leaders have been tasked by APEC Leaders to identify policy priorities and key concerns of the business sector in achieving closer economic cooperation.

Doris Magsaysay Ho, the woman behind Magsaysay Maritime Corporation, is the current chair of the ABAC. (APEC Communications Group)