Malacanang ‘looking forward’ to upcoming visit of
U.S. President Barack Obama
The Philippines is looking forward to the upcoming visit of US President
Barack Obama on April 28 to 29, the eighth by an American president,
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.
said on Wednesday.
Coloma said the visit would provide the two leaders “an opportunity to
exchange views and their strategic vision for the 21st century and discuss
new avenues to further strengthen the longstanding relations between the two
countries by intensifying political and security cooperation, expanding
trade and investments, tourism and development cooperation, and deepening
He further said that the meeting will allow the two leaders to “discuss
continued cooperation on the rehabilitation of ‘Yolanda’-affected areas.”
Coloma noted that President Obama’s visit is the peak of a series of recent
high-level exchanges between the two countries.
Last year, US Secretary of State John F. Kerry and US Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel visited the Philippines. Early this year, US Senator and member
of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Marco Rubio, and US Congressman
Ed Royce, who also chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of
Representatives, visited Manila.
“The treaty alliance between the Philippines and the US has been a
cornerstone of peace and stability in the region. The United States is the
only defense treaty ally of the Philippines,” Coloma said.
“This wide-ranging security partnership includes joint military exercises,
such as Balikatan and humanitarian assistance and disaster response
activities, to defense and security assistance that supports Philippine
efforts toward achieving enhanced defense capabilities,” he added.
Coloma also noted that the US continues to be the major trading partner of
the country, with total trade amounting to US$14.5 billion in 2013. Last
year, the US was the second largest export destination of the Philippines
after Japan, with exports reaching US$7.8 billion.
“The US is one of the Philippines’ top sources of assistance. From 2011 up
to 2013, US assistance to the Philippines has amounted to over a billion
dollars. The development and military assistance covers a broad range of
programs, from enhancing defense capabilities to supporting the good
governance reform agenda, poverty reduction, and improving public
infrastructure,” Coloma said.
He said that people-to-people ties are strong with an estimated 2.27 million
Filipinos living in the United States, while thousands of US tourists visit
the Philippines every year. In 2013, more than 670,000 American tourists
visited the Philippines.
“The visit of President Obama affirms the vigor of our strategic partnership
and alliance, and the strength of our people-to-people ties,” Coloma said.
Palace asks for greater public vigilance to fend off spread of
The Department of Health (DOH) continues to track the
passengers of the Etihad Airways Flight EY0424 that landed in Manila last
April 15, after one passenger tested positive for the Middle East
Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the Palace said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations
Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the DOH has contacted 325 of the
flight’s 414 passengers and still trying to contact 43 passengers.
Of the 325 passengers, 252 have undergone nose and throat swabbing, and 221
of them have tested negative for MERS-CoV, he said, adding that the DOH is
still awaiting the swab results of the other 31 passengers.
Despite these highly encouraging results, Coloma asked for greater public
vigilance, advising the people to heed preventive measures and quarantine
procedures issued by health authorities.
“Travelers returning from the Middle East are advised to fill out the
quarantine forms providing detailed contact information to facilitate
subsequent tracing if needed,” Coloma said.
Health authorities said those who become ill within two weeks upon arrival
are strongly advised to seek immediate medical attention from all public
hospitals or any DOH-accredited medical facilities. They are also asked to
delay visits to crowded places.
Last April 16, the DOH confirmed that an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who
arrived in Manila on April 15 had MERS-CoV.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona confirmed that the nurse came into contact with
the Filipino paramedic who died of MERS-CoV in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
While the unnamed nurse did not show symptoms of the illness, Ona said he
still has the virus and may infect other people.
The DOH said last week that the health worker underwent quarantine
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the
MERS Coronavirus is a viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi
Arabia in 2012.
Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed
severe acute respiratory illness, the CDC said.
Those who were infected had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About
half of these people died. The virus has spread from ill people to others
through close contact.
The CDC also said that so far, all the cases have been linked to six
countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula. PND (as)
Philippines satisfied with American
support, says Palace official
The Palace said the government is satisfied with the
support it is getting from the US, especially regarding the country’s
territorial dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.
said on Wednesday that statements of support from the US “have been
encouraging and tend to affirm the cooperation and the partnership of both
He said the government is also pleased with the actions the US has taken as
these actions are “aligned with the pronouncements they have made.”
In a recent trip to Japan, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the US
remains committed to its defense treaty partners in Asia, including the
Philippines, in the midst of a more aggressive posturing of China in the
The Philippines continues to get American support in terms of beefing up its
military capability through annual joint training exercises with US troops.
The Philippine military also recently acquired two ships from the US to
strengthen its capability to patrol its coastline, especially in the West
US President Barack Obama is set to arrive in Manila on Monday (April 28).
He is on a four-nation trip to renew his government’s commitment with its
Obama’s other stops are Japan, South Korea, and Malaysia. PND (as)
Civil Service Commission should be commended
for suspending erring BIR employee, Palace says
The Civil Service Commission (CSC) should be commended
for suspending a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) employee who has failed to
file his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), a Palace
official said Wednesday.
“Dapat sigurong purihin ang Civil Service Commission sa kanilang paggawa ng
ganyang aksyon dahil ang aksyon na ito ay nagpapaalala sa ating mga
lingkod-bayan na kailangang gampanan nila ang kanilang tungkulin sa ilalim
ng batas,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio
Coloma, Jr. said during a press briefing.
In a four–page decision, the CSC found substantial
evidence to hold Arsenio N. Reyes, Revenue Officer III of BIR Revenue Region
10 in Legaspi City, guilty of failing to file his SALN in 2010.
Reyes was given a three-month suspension.
In February 2011, Department of Finance (DOF)
Secretary Cesar Purisima issued Department Order No. 12-2011, requiring all
officials and employees of the agency and its attached office to submit a
copy of their respective SALN to the Revenue Operations and Legal Affairs
and Revenue Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), the agency’s
It was the RIPS that filed a case against Reyes before the commission. PND (ag)
President Aquino welcomes resolution of
issue with Hong Kong
President Benigno S. Aquino III is pleased with the
lifting of sanctions imposed by Hong Kong in connection with the 2010
hostage incident in Rizal Park, Presidential Communications Operations
Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement Wednesday.
Coloma told Palace reporters that he has just talked with Cabinet Secretary
Rene Almendras who made a confirmation about the lifting of sanctions and
normalizing relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong.
Almendras is the national government’s representative to Hong Kong to
resolve the issue.
“We join the Department of Foreign Affairs in acknowledging the statement of
Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung on the complete and final resolution of
the Quirino Grandstand incident of 23 August 2010 and the lifting of the
sanctions,” Coloma said.
Quoting Almendras, Coloma said Leung has issued a separate statement in
which he thanked President Aquino and the Philippine government on the
“I have conveyed to the President the report of Secretary Almendras and he
expressed satisfaction that final closure and a mutually satisfactory
conclusion has been reached,” he added.
The Palace official also thanked former president and Manila Mayor Joseph
Estrada for his initiative and contribution to the national government’s
efforts to mend relations with Hong Kong.
Almendras will make a comprehensive briefing on the recent development on
Thursday, Coloma said.
It was reported earlier that the two governments agreed that Hong Kong’s
four demands have been resolved.
Among the demands include apology to the victims’ families, compensation,
sanctions against responsible officials and individuals, and improved
Almendras, Mayor Estrada, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Alan
Purisima were reported to have left for Hong Kong to tackle the issue. PND