25 April 2013
Aquino reports fruitful outcome of 22nd ASEAN Summit in Brunei
Aquino, ASEAN leaders reaffirm commitment to preserve Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapon-free region
Aquino and leaders of BIMP-EAGA agree to review cooperation to boost region as food basket, ecotourism destination
Aquino, ASEAN leaders express determination to strengthen cooperation in addressing terrorism, transnational crime
Aquino, ASEAN leaders agree on empowering small and medium enterprises
Phl urges ASEAN to adopt action plan to combat human trafficking
President Aquino and ASEAN leaders express concern over Korean Peninsula developments, call for denuclearization
Aquino joins ASEAN leaders in calling for a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea situation
Philippines, Vietnam hold bilateral talks
President Aquino nixes plans to reshuffle members of his Cabinet but welcomes any improvement that would make them more efficient
President Aquino 'heartened' by survey that nine of 12 administration senatorial candidates are likely to win in the upcoming May 13 midterm elections: vows to make extra effort to help the three other candidates
President Aquino awaiting results of study on Sabah claim
President Aquino says his administration is open to ideas that will accelerate country's inclusive growth for the benefit of all Filipinos particularly those living below poverty level
Philippines confident ASEAN will achieve goal of becoming 'One Economic Community' by 2015
President Aquino lauds ASEAN member countries for inclusion of West Philippine sea in their discussion at ASEAN Summit in Brunei
24 April 2013
Aquino to push for binding code of conduct in South China Sea during ASEAN Summit
Gov’t. allocates P7-M for President Aquino’s attendance to ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam
23 April 2013
Philippine envoy cites achievement of ASEAN
OFWs in Brunei thank Philippine government for chance to cast vote
22 April 2013
President Aquino’s attendance to 22nd ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam make Filipinos feel the government is taking care of them
17 April 2013
President Aquino to attend 22nd ASEAN Summit from April 24 to 25 in Brunei Darussalam

Aquino reports fruitful outcome of 22nd ASEAN Summit in Brunei
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he has expressed his gratitude to Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for agreeing to a stricter implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).

Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is the chair of the 22nd ASEAN Summit this year.

In his arrival message at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II, the President said among the top agenda of the ASEAN leaders is the importance of stronger cooperation among ASEAN member countries in settling territorial disputes in the region.

Aside from the DOC, the President said he pushed for the immediately crafting of a binding Code of Conduct of Parties with interest in the West Philippine Sea.

“Isinulong din natin na matutukan, sa lalong madaling panahon, ang pagbuo ng isang Code of Conduct, na kikilalanin, igagalang, at susundin ng bawat miyembro bilang pundasyon ng ugnayan, estabilidad, at kaunlaran sa Timog Silangang Asya,” he said.

“Batid ng lahat ng pinuno ng ASEAN ang maigting nating paninindigan ukol sa West Philippine Sea, ay nakatuon, hindi lamang sa pansariling interes ng kanya-kanyang bansa, kundi para rin sa mas aktibong kalakalan, at malawakang kaunlaran sa bahaging ito ng daigdig.”

Also, in the bilateral meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the President said the Vietnamese leader thanked him for the strengthening relations between the Philippines and Vietnam.

Both countries have been cooperating in areas of maritime development and expansive trade, he said. It is in the interest of the two countries to seize the opportunities that will ensure greater tie ups and progress.

The country’s economy and its tourism sector benefited in the positive dialogue that the country had with its counterparts during the 22nd ASEAN Summit, the President said.

“Nasaang panig man tayo ng mundo, hamon pa rin sa atin na patuloy na magsumikap at makiambag, sa pagbuo ng isang lipunang bukal ng patas na pagkakataon para sa lahat,” President Aquino said. PND (as)

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Aquino, ASEAN leaders reaffirm commitment to preserve Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapon-free region
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei—President Benigno S. Aquino III and other Southeast Asian heads of states reaffirm their commitment to keep the region free from nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction.

In a statement released at the end of the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit here, Chairman Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said they look forward to the signing of the protocol to the Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) and its related documents without reservations as early as possible.

“We also looked forward to the extension of the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the Treaty on the SEANWFZ for another five years (2013-2017), the Chairman’s Statement added.

At the same time, the ASEAN leaders looked forward to the full and effective operationalization of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) in Jakarta, Indonesia as early as possible which would promote research activities on peace, conflict management, and conflict resolution in the region.

“We acknowledged that the presence of landmines and other explosive remnants of war in the soil poses constant threats to the safety of the people and hinders national socio-economic development and aggravates humanitarian problems in many countries in the region.

In this regard, [we] encouraged our Ministers to conclude the terms of reference on the modalities of an ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) in order to enable its early establishment.

We acknowledged that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) is a milestone in ASEAN’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region and encouraged the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to enhance its activities, including the implementation of the AHRD, in close coordination with the various ASEAN sectoral bodies,” the Chairman’s Statement further read. PND (hdc)

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Aquino and leaders of BIMP-EAGA agree to review cooperation to boost region as food basket, ecotourism destination
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III and leaders from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) have agreed to review the progress of the cooperation and provide further direction to the region’s pursuit of its shared vision of establishing BIMP-EAGA as a regional food basket and ecotourism destination through enhanced connectivity for trade and investment, while ensuring sustainable management of the environment.

The President and his above-mentioned counterparts arrived at this decision during the 9th BIMP-EAGA Summit it held at the sidelines of the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held here from April 24 to 25, 2013.

“We, the Leaders of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, met for the 9th BIMP-EAGA Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, to review the progress of cooperaetion and to provide further direction in the pursuit of our shared vision of establishing BIMP-EAGA as a regional food basket and ecotourism destination through enhanced connectivity for trade and investment, whilst ensuring sustainable management of the environment,” the statement read.

BIMP-EAGA was launched in 1994 as a cooperation initiative by Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, all of which are member-countries of the regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The objective behind the creation of BIMP-EAGA is to accelerate economic development in the four countries' “focus areas” which, although geographically distant from their national capitals, are in strategic proximity to each other, in one of the world’s most resource-rich regions.

The BIMP-EAGA initiative is market-driven, and operates through a decentralized organization structure involving the four governments and the private sector.

BIMP-EAGA cooperation aims to increase trade, tourism and investments inside and outside the subregion by: facilitating the free movement of people, goods, and services; making the best use of common infrastructure and natural resources; and taking the fullest advantage of economic complementation. PND (rck)

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Aquino, ASEAN leaders express determination to strengthen cooperation in addressing terrorism, transnational crime
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei—President Benigno S. Aquino III and his Southeast Asian counterparts are determined to address the lingering issues of terrorism and transnational crime in their respective countries.

“We are determined to strengthen cooperation in addressing the issue of terrorism and transnational crime in the region,” Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) chair Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei stated on behalf of his fellow heads of state.

In this regard, ASEAN leaders encouraged all relevant sectoral bodies to “re-double” the implementation of their respective work plans and work programs related to priority areas of transnational crime, as well as in effectively tackling the increasing non-traditional security threats in the region.

They also look forward to the outcome of the 9th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) to be held this September in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

“We re-emphasized the importance of the Declaration on Drug-Free ASEAN 2015 and look forward to the outcome of the 2nd ASEAN Special Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters to be convened on September 2013 in Brunei Darussalam,” the Chairman’s statement added.

The ASEAN leaders also welcomed the progress made in considering the development of a Regional Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Persons and an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons, which reflects the need to urgently combat trafficking in persons in the region. PND (hdc)

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Aquino, ASEAN leaders agree on empowering small and medium enterprises
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei) President Benigno S. Aquino III joined other Southeast Asian leaders in fostering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a result of their discussions during the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) focusing on the economic community aspect.

In a statement released Thursday by this year’s chair, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, ASEAN leaders encouraged the relevant ministers to “empower SMEs” while calling on business organizations “to lend support to this endeavor.”

“We recognized that to foster our small and medium enterprises, it is critical to create job opportunities and promote social safety nets, in line with our goal to narrowing development gaps in the region.

In this regard, we encouraged the relevant Ministers to empower SMEs, especially the Priority Integration Sectors, through training, advisory and financial support, to take advantage of our integration efforts.

We also called on business organizations to lend support to this endeavor and tasked the relevant Ministers to look into ways to provide a strategic regional platform for long-term SME development cooperation,” the Chairman’s Statement read.

The empowerment of SMEs is one of the advocacies pushed by President Aquino during his brief participation in the summit here.

The ASEAN leaders also continued to encourage their ministers to enhance private sector engagement at various levels in efforts to support the ASEAN Economic Community integration activities.

They further called on the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and other business associations to take an active role in undertaking communication activities on the benefits of the AEC aimed at stakeholders within as well as outside the region. PND (hdc)

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Phl urges ASEAN to adopt action plan to combat human trafficking
Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. on Thursday called on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come up with a comprehensive regional approach to counter and combat all forms of human trafficking.

The Philippines is hosting the third ASEAN Experts Working Group against human trafficking from April 25 to 26, and Ochoa hopes this will strengthen the commitment of member-countries to fight this regional problem.

“While there are universal mechanisms that address human trafficking or trafficking in persons, there is no regional mechanism that particularly and especially deals with such issues in Southeast Asia,” said Ochoa.

He added: “There must be a regional action plan within the scope of each ASEAN members’ domestic laws and policies to effectively address regional challenges common to all ASEAN members in the fight against human trafficking.”

According to the Executive Secretary, the action plan should include an integrated, cohesive and a more structured monitoring and reporting mechanism on human trafficking in order to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons in the region.

The fight against human trafficking, Ochoa explained, is in line with efforts by the ASEAN to protect and promote human rights, and its commitment to other regional and international declarations against all forms of trafficking in persons, particularly women and children.

“Human trafficking is one of the most contemptible violations of human rights, as those involved in this loathsome crime deprive their victims of their right to life, liberty, and security” Ochoa said, as he pushed for stronger international cooperation to ensure the successful investigation, prosecution and elimination of safe havens of perpetrators and accomplices of trafficking in persons.

During the conference, the ASEAN Experts Working Group hopes to come up with a regional instrument to educate people on human trafficking, promote and protect the rights of victims, strengthen rule of law and border control in the region, establish a synchronized regional approach in the investigation of human traffickers involving foreign nationals, and increase prosecution and conviction of human traffickers to weaken their organized criminal networks.

The conference also aims to further enhance cooperation of ASEAN members with the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons in order to strengthen the region’s capacity to effectively combat human trafficking and provide assistance to victims.

The ASEAN is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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President Aquino and ASEAN leaders express concern over Korean Peninsula developments, call for denuclearization
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III and his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed concern over the ongoing developments in the Korean Peninsula and have called for the denuclearization of the area “in a peaceful manner.”

The regional bloc issued this statement at the close of the 22nd ASEAN Summit that was held here from April 24 to 25.

The regional leaders called on the Democratic Republic of Korea to fully comply with its obligations under all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement on the Six-Party Talks which aim to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.

“We reaffirm our full support for all efforts to bring about the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner as well as the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks,” the Statement read.

“We emphasize the importance of dialogue aimed at promoting mutual understanding and confidence among all parties concerned to ensure peace, security and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” it added. PND (rck)

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Aquino joins ASEAN leaders in calling for a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea situation
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III joined other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in calling for a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea situation as the regional bloc said it looked forward to “continued engagement” with China in implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in a “full and effective manner.”

The ASEAN leaders issued their stand in the widely discussed issue during the issuance of the Chairman’s statement delivered during closing ceremonies of the 22nd ASEAN Summit on Thursday.

Brunei Darussalam, through its Royal Highness Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, is the Chair of this year’s ASEAN Summit.

“We discussed the situation in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of peace, stability and maritime security in the region. We underscored the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the Joint Statement of the 10th Anniversary of the DOC. In this regard, we reaffirmed the collective commitments under the DOC in ensuring the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, without resorting to the threat or use of force, while exercising self-restraint in the conduct of activities,” the statement read.

“We look forward to continued engagement with China in implementing the DOC in a full and effective manner, including through mutually agreed joint cooperative activities and projects,” it further said. PND (rck)

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Philippines, Vietnam hold bilateral talks
(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) The Philippines and Vietnam held bilateral talks at the sidelines of the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit being held here from April 24 to 25.

In a text message sent to reporters covering President Benigno S. Aquino III attendance to said Summit, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung were upbeat over “the progress of economic relations” between the two countries as they agreed to “further enhance” and strengthen relations.

Lacierda added that Vietnam expressed support for the Philippines initiatives on maritime security, noting the improvement of this initiative between the two countries.

"Both leaders are happy with the progress of economic relations and discussed ways on how to further enhance these relations. Both countries acknowledged the improvement of maritime security between the two countries and Vietnam expressed support for the Philippines international initiatives on this matter," Lacierda said.

Diplomatic relations between the two sides started in July 1976 upon the signing of a Joint Communique by then Philippine Foreign Minister Carlos P. Romulo and Vietnamese Vice Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs Phan Hien. PND (rck)

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President Aquino nixes plans to reshuffle members of his Cabinet but welcomes any improvement that would make them more efficient
(BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei) President Benigno S. Aquino III indicated that while he has no plans to reshuffle the members of his Cabinet he would instead welcome any improvement in the processes that would make them more efficient.

The President mentioned this when asked if he would do an evaluation of the accomplishments of the various departments and agencies in the Executive Branch now that he’s approaching the three years term of his presidency.

“You start with a premise that you are all imperfect beings and you can always improve,” the President told members of the Philippine media delegation who are covering the President's attendance to the 22nd ASEAN Summit at the Philippine Embassy here, Wednesday.

The President cited in particular the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) headed by Secretary Rogelio Singson and Department of Agriculture (DA) led by Secretary Proceso Alcala as among the top performing agencies in his administration.

He recognized the DPWH for its ability to lower the bid prices on most of its projects and the DA for its successful production and domestic marketing of rice that enabled the country to be self-sufficient and a potential exporter of this particular commodity.

“Pero, bottom line, we’re really open to improving all of the processes that we need to have greater efficiency. Sorry, economist ako by training, so maximum utility of each input is the mantra,” he said. PND (hdc)

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President Aquino 'heartened' by survey that nine of 12 administration senatorial candidates are likely to win in the upcoming May 13 midterm elections: vows to make extra effort to help the three other candidates
(BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei) President Benigno S. Aquino III is “heartened” by the fact that nine out of his 12 candidates for the Senate are likely to win in the upcoming midterm elections but he said they would still make an “extra effort” to help the other three catch up in the surveys.

“We are trying to make extra efforts on all of them. But, at the same time, parang heartening na rin: nine out of 12,” President Aquino told the Philippine media delegation here on Wednesday.

The President, who is currently attending the 22nd Association of the Southeast Asian Nation Summit, said he would continue talking with local leaders allied with them to help them increase the voters’ awareness on all of their candidates, especially the three others.

“Nakikiusap tayo sa ating mga leaders, baka pwedeng diinan ‘yung tatlo na mas maalala; dagdagan ‘yung awareness at ‘yung recall at sana naman may conversion (into votes),” he said.

On his visit to Capiz last April 10, the President said they are trying to achieve the rare 12-0 feat for the Liberal Party coalition candidates with about less than a month to go before the Election Day itself.

“‘Yon ang tinatrabaho natin, kung pwedeng mangyari ‘yon. Pero tayo’y nag-aapela sa ating mga boss, ang ating mga kababayan, ang sambayanang Pilipino, na kung nakikita nila ang talagang pagbabago ngayon, ang mungkahi natin, itong labindalawa nga ang tutulong mapabilis ang pagbabagong nangyayari sa bansa,” he said.

He, however, emphasized that their party would not resort into vote-buying mechanisms and would not tolerate any of their candidates in doing so just to reach that particular goal. PND (hdc)

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President Aquino awaiting results of study on Sabah claim
(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III is awaiting the results of a study being conducted by a “study group” he had tasked to look into the Philippines’ claim on Sabah and hopes the results will resolve this issue for the satisfaction of the Filipino citizenry.

In an interview with media at the sidelines of his attendance to the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here, the President said the study is taking a “multidisciplinary approach” that includes the historical and legal basis on the subject of Sabah.

“Well, gusto nating ma-resolve ang isyu to everybody’s satisfaction. Towards that end, we have already tasked a study group kasi ang haba nga ng multidisciplinary approach. May historical basis, merong legal basis, may legal local to us, and may legal international aspects,” the President said.

“Napakarami ng issues surrounding the central issue and the things that happen with the issue might affect the present and the future. And we want to have a solution, again, that makes everybody happy but is based on the fact and a just deliberation of the issues,” he added.

“So, hopefully, the study will guide us into a really in-depth understanding of the issue,” the President stressed.

He pointed out that he is now focused on the results of the probe and has thus made the Sabah claim “not a hot issue right now.”
“I’m still awaiting the results of the study,” the President concluded. PND (rck)

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President Aquino says his administration is open to ideas that will accelerate country's inclusive growth for the benefit of all Filipinos particularly those living below poverty level
(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday that he was willing to “tweak” the government’s anti-poverty measures to benefit more Filipinos living below the poverty level.

In a press conference with media covering his attendance to the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here, the President said he and his government were open to ideas and “everything that will accelerate inclusive growth.”

He however declined to subscribe to the belief that by immediately pouring billions of pesos into a certain program, it could actually effect change in poverty ratings overnight.

“Will we tweak it (anti-poverty programs)? Syempre, ano, we’re open to all of—everything that will accelerate inclusive growth. Pero…Hindi ‘yung mag-invest tayo ng so many billions now and in one month’s time you will see a reversal, ‘di ba?” the President said.

He pointed out that the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program), which has been receiving yearly budget increases was due to its effectiveness in lifting people from misery and spurring economic growth.

“Now, I think what we should pay attention to is this: Lahat ng interventions natin, for instance, the Pantawid Pamilya Program.

The DSWD’s budget increased over 200 percent... if we look at the economic activity in the areas na maraming households na beneficiaries dito, when you talk to the local businessmen, they will tell you there is a dramatic increase in economic activity in their areas,” the President said, adding that this scenario is also applicable to education and health.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda earlier said the government remains focused on generating jobs for Filipinos in the urban areas and the countryside in keeping with its goal to mitigate poverty.

Lacierda said the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet cluster has come up with an action plan to generate jobs for people living in the urban areas, as well as the countryside. He said various programs to support the farmers are now in place to improve the agricultural sector.

"Ang focus ng ating problema ngayon is agriculture. Doon medyo mababa ang growth. What’s also important right now is we’re trying to link farmers and technology, sources of technology and sources of credit," he said.

"Now with respect to industries, we have seen private investments coming in. The private sector during the latter half of 2012, has really poured in their investments. Malaki ang improvement ng ating private sector as based on our figures during the last year. So we will expect a greater improvement in our numbers with respect to poverty," he said. PND (rck)

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Philippines confident ASEAN will achieve goal of becoming 'One Economic Community' by 2015
(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) The Philippines is confident the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is on track towards achieving its goal to become One Economic Community by 2015 despite the numerous challenges still facing the regional bloc.

In a press briefing here, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said these challenges include the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) which aims to enhance cooperation in services among member States in order to improve the efficiency and competitiveness, diversify production capacity and supply and distribution of services of their service suppliers within and outside ASEAN; eliminating non-tariff barriers; and enhancing customs procedures through the ASEAN Single Window.

“We’re currently between 73 to 76 percent in terms of the ASEAN accomplishments. We’re on the 9th package so the first eight packages had been completed. But there’s still a lot of work because the easier parts have been done. So now we get into the more difficult portions,” Domingo noted.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) aims to achieve regional economic integration by 2015. AEC envisages the following key characteristics: (a) a single market and production base, (b) a highly competitive economic region, (c) a region of equitable economic development, and (d) a region fully integrated into the global economy.

The AEC areas of cooperation include human resources development and capacity building; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies; trade financing measures; enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity; development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN; integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing; and enhancing private sector involvement for the building of the AEC.

In short, the AEC will transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital. PND (rck)

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President Aquino lauds ASEAN member countries for inclusion of West Philippine sea in their discussion at ASEAN Summit in Brunei
(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Wednesday that the fact that the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have agreed to discuss the issue of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) during the 22nd ASEAN Summit being held here was something to be thankful for and clearly showed that a rules based approach towards peacefully resolving this dispute was on its way.

“Di ba, parang napakaganda nga e na unang-unang gabi nating nandito, unang-unang meeting nasama na sa mga topics. So we should really be thankful that the whole of the ASEAN is willing to discuss this instead of, you know, putting it on the backburner. That, I think, is already a help,” the President told reporters in a press briefing after meeting other ASEAN members in a working dinner.

He said that after 11 years since the ASEAN and China agreed in 2002 on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to maintain peace and stability in the contested area, a major lane for global trade and believed to be rich in mineral resources, ASEAN has agreed to make the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue a priority area for discussion.

“There might be a consensus reached that really pushes the matter forward to really define everybody’s entitlements and obligations. So instead of being on a very low priority, it is one of the priority areas and nobody has objected, and everybody was listening and discussing it. So that, I think, is a step in the right direction,” he added. PND (rck)

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Aquino to push for binding code of conduct in South China Sea during ASEAN Summit

President Benigno S. Aquino III said he would push for the crafting of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea when he attends the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Summit (ASEAN) Summit in Brunei Darussalam Thursday.

“Sa pagtitipong ito, muli tayong nabibigyan ng pagkakataong ibahagi sa ating mga karatig-bansa ang saloobin ng Pilipinas ukol sa mga napapanahong isyu, at ang kahandaan ng mga Pilipinong makipagtulungan sa iba’t ibang larangan,” the President said in his departure statement at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

Peace and stability are important because any instability in one area could affect the entire global economy, the President said.
“Wala tayong ibang hangad kundi ang magtaguyod ng kaayusan at kapayapaan, kaya naman itutulak nating isabuhay ng lahat ang mga prinsipyong nakapaloob sa Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea o DOC,” he said.

“Hihikayatin din natin ang ibang pinuno sa pagpapanday ng isang Code of Conduct sa lalong madaling panahon, na kikilalanin at susundin ng lahat. Sa liderato ng kasalukuyang ASEAN Chairman, si Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah ng Brunei, buo ang kumpiyansa nating mas makakausad nang patas ang paksang ito,” he added.

The President’s attendance to the summit would be brief and he said he would seize the opportunity to push the country’s interest in the regional gathering. The President also hopes to build stronger relations with fellow ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN and China agreed in 2002 on the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to maintain peace and stability in the contested area, a major lane for global trade and believed to be rich in mineral resources.

Some claimant countries including the Philippines are pushing for the crafting of a binding Code of Conduct for the eventual peaceful resolution of the South China Sea issue. PND (as)

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Gov’t. allocates P7-M for President Aquino’s attendance to ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam

The government has set aside around P7 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s attendance to the 22nd high-level meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei Darussalam from April 24 to 25, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Wednesday.

President Aquino left this afternoon for Bandar Seri Begawan via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight accompanied by 51-member delegation that includes Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary to the President Rene Almendras, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria.

The expenses cover the charter lease, accommodation, transportation, food and equipment, among others, for the President and the delegation.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), President Aquino is expected to focus on maritime security and cooperation in the region when he meets other ASEAN leaders in Bandar Seri Begawan for the annual summit.

The DFA said the Chief Executive will push for the full implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea and the early conclusion of a substantive and legally binding code of conduct, as well as the review of the ASEAN Charter with the objective of streamlining the work and meetings of the regional bloc.

The DFA added that the 9th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit is also set on the sidelines of the summit meeting.

The DFA said the 22nd ASEAN Summit’s theme “Our People, Our Future Together” emphasizes the importance of ASEAN citizens in realizing the vision of an ASEAN Community by 2015.

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Philippine envoy cites achievement of ASEAN

(BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) Philippine Permanent Representative to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ambassador Elizabeth Buensuceso cited on Tuesday the major achievement of ASEAN which she said, has the international community forming a line to have themselves associated with the regional body.

In an interview, Buensuceso said ASEAN has greatly progressed from its humble beginnings 46 years ago to the stature it now holds as a bastion of peace and stability, economic growth and socio-cultural development.

“Para sa akin, ang pinaka-malaking achievement ng ASEAN ngayon ay pumipila na ang bansa na gustong makipag-associate sa ASEAN. Sa ngayon 31 na ang nag-accede sa treaty of amity and cooperation, or TACT na sinasabi. The latest ones are the United Kingdom, the European Union and Brazil, even as far as Latin America,” Buensuceso said.

“Kinikilala na ang ASEAN ay merong clout sa international community. Kinikilala na ang kanyang standing bilang isang regional grouping na maaring maka-dagdag o maka-contribute sa peace and stability, economic growth and socio-cultural development of countries in the region,” she added.

She pointed out that during the 22nd ASEAN Summit from April 24 to 25, member countries will be discussing the future of ASEAN and how to make the regional body play a bigger role with the international community.

“This Summit will urge the ASEAN-member countries to be forward looking. Ano pa? Pagkatapos ma-accomplish ang sinasabing blueprint which will end in 2015, ano pa ang future ng ASEAN? Paano pa makaka-play ng role ang ASEAN in the international community,” Buensuceso said.

“The future of ASEAN is one. The other challenge is how to make ASEAN the driver of movements in this region,” she added, maintaining that the ASEAN agenda of regional peace and stability, integrated economic growth and socio-cultural benefits for its people should remain central among other agendas. PND (rck)

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OFWs in Brunei thank Philippine government for chance to cast vote
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here have expressed deep gratitude to the Philippine government for being given a chance to participate in this year’s midterm elections and to practice their right of suffrage by casting their votes via the Overseas Absentee Voting Act.

The Overseas Absentee Voting Act, officially known as Republic Act No. 9189, is a law in the Philippines passed on February 13, 2003 providing for a system for citizens of the Philippines currently residing or working outside of the Philippines to vote in an election.

This act was a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2104 and House Bill No. 3570, the first draft was authored in congress on July 22, 2002. The act is implemented by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with the help of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Filipinos Mike and Irene Tolentino, long time residents of Brunei Darussalam said in an interview that being given the chance to choose the next set of Philippine leaders and lawmakers was an honor and a right not to be taken lightly.

They hoped that the people they voted for would continue to look after and act towards ensuring the safety and upholding the rights of OFWs around the world.

“Isang malaking karangalan na kaming mga Pilipino na nasa overseas ay mabigyan ng karapatan na bomoto o maghalal ng mga kababayan namin na karapat-dapat na umupo sa ating pamahalaan,” Mrs. Toledo said.

“Sana po, ang aming mga binoto ay siyang manalo dahil palagay namin po ay sila ay karapat-dapat na umupo, na gumawa ng mga tungkulin para manilbihan sa mga Pilipino lalung-lalo na sa mga overseas worker,” she added.

The DFA said in an earlier statement that OFWs here have begun casting their votes since April 13, 2013. Voting is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during office hours, Monday to Sunday, including public holidays.

There will be an hour-long lunch break everyday between Sunday and Thursday, and a two-hour noon break on Friday, when voting hours are extended until 6:00 p.m.

The Embassy has urged all Filipino overseas voters to cast their votes early to avoid any inconvenience.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections has said that it expects a 60 percent voters’ turnout during the midterm elections this year among the 737,759 OAVs from Asia, the Middle East, United States, Europe and the seafarers. They are voting for 12 senators and one party list. PND (rck)

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President Aquino’s attendance to 22nd ASEAN Summit in Brunei Darussalam make Filipinos feel the government is taking care of them
BRUNEI DARUSSALAM) Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here are upbeat and excited over the attendance of President Benigno S. Aquino III to the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit that will be held from April 24 to 25, 2013.

A well-known and respected Filipina manager of a Singapore-based “helideck” (short for helicopter decks installed on high rise buildings and off-shore oil rigs) manufacturer with a regional office here said on Monday that the President’s visit shows his genuine concern for his kababayans working outside the Philippines.

Josephine Jasa, a 17-year resident of Brunei Darussalam, is one of two Filipinos working at Aluminium Technologies, a company that designs and manufactures heavy-duty aluminium structures for the oil and gas industry as well as other clients all over the world.

A certified public accountant by profession, Jasa said Filipinos here are eagerly awaiting the President’s arrival on Wednesday.

“Of course every time our President visits us, it elevates the Filipinos once again. His visit shows the President cares for us and that he is looking after our welfare. So we feel so proud,” Jasa said.

She added that the President’s visit gives the OFWs an “edge” over other nationalities working and living here as it shows that there is a personal bond between the Chief Executive and the simple hardworking Filipinos.

“Even if there are a multitude of people from different nationalities working in Brunei – there are Malaysians, Bangladeshis, Singaporeans, and Europeans, you don’t see their President visiting them,” Jasa said.

“That shows that OFWs and Filipinos are taken cared of by their government,” she added.

She called on all Filipinos to instill within themselves the desire to excel and be the best that they can be in any and all their fields of endeavor as this is what it takes to succeed in life.

“You always have to go the extra mile. You have to work more than what is expected of you so that your employer can see how good you are, how dedicated you are and they will continue to trust you and continue to employ you," Jasa said.

She said the Filipinos are world class and should work hard at maintaining this distinction in order to remain ahead in the global competition.

There are an estimated 21,028 Filipinos in Brunei Darussalam as of December 2012, with temporary migrants comprising the bulk of these OFWs (19,501 out of the total). Semi-skilled workers comprise 31 percent of the total number of OFWs, followed by household workers (23 percent), unskilled workers (15 percent), and skilled workers (12 percent).

Full diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam were established in January 1984. PND (rck)

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President Aquino to attend 22nd ASEAN Summit from April 24 to 25 in Brunei Darussalam
President Benigno S. Aquino III will join his counterparts at the 22nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit that will be held in Brunei Darussalam from April 24 to 25, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Wednesday.

In a briefing in Malacanang, DFA Spokesperson Raul Hernandez said this Summit, which also marks the 46th year of ASEAN’s existence, will serve as a follow up to the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from November 17 to 20, 2012.

Among the topics the Philippines will continue to advocate during the Summint, Hernandez said, include maritime security and cooperation, the full implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the early conclusion of a substantive and legally binding Code of Conduct and the review of the ASEAN Charter “with the objective of streamlining the work and meetings of ASEAN.”

“In the 22nd ASEAN Summit, the Philippines will continue to advocate maritime security and cooperation, to push for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, for the early conclusion of a substantive and legally binding Code of Conduct, and to review the ASEAN Charter with the objective of streamlining the work and meetings of ASEAN,” Hernandez said.

He said the Summit will begin on the evening of April 24 with a working dinner hosted by His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam. The following day will have the Summit’s Retreat Session which Hernandez said, “will revolve around the following agenda items: the ASEAN community 2015; the ASEAN’s central role and the regional architecture; ASEAN’s future direction; and exchange of views on regional and international issues.”

Aside from the Summit, the President is expected to meet with leaders from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia comprising the East ASEAN Growth Area for the 9th BIMP-EAGA Summit. PND (rck)

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