AUGUST 22, 2009 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo joined the nation today in the commemoration of the 26th death anniversary and martyrdom of the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President sponsored a Holy Mass in Malacañang this morning in recognition of Aquino’s contribution to the restoration of democracy in the country.

“We join the rest of the nation in commemorating the death and martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino today,” Remonde said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

He said the President, together with First Gentleman Atty. Mike Arroyo, watched “Ninoy Aquino, The Movie” at Bahay Pangarap late last night.

With the First Couple were several members of the Cabinet and Director Lupita Aquino-Kashihiwara, sister of the late senator.

Then considered as the top rival of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino was among those incarcerated at the imposition of martial law in 1972.

On August 21, 1983, he was gunned down at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport (now Ninoy Aquino International Airport), minutes after he arrived from the United States.

Discussions underway for 1st Asean-US Summit By Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) Updated August 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Initial discussions are underway for the first ASEAN-US Summit that the Philippines will host sometime this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

The Philippines will host the Special ASEAN-US Directors General Meeting and the Special ASEAN-US Senior Officials Meeting in Manila during the latter part of 2009.

The Philippines assumed the role of country coordinator for ASEAN-US Dialogue relations last July, following the practice of rotation.

The DFA earlier issued a clarification in view of reports that US President Barack Obama designated the Philippines as coordinator between his country and the regional inter-government organization.

In his remarks, President Obama said: “I am looking forward to my travels to Southeast Asia, and the Philippines will be the coordinating country in the US relationship with ASEAN, the primary organization – strategic organization for Southeast Asian countries.”

DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said Obama’s remarks were just an acknowledgement of the Philippines’ current role as country coordinator rather than a designation.

The Philippines took over the three-year rotating responsibility from Singapore during the 42nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Phuket, Thailand last July 22.

As country coordinator, the Philippines will be the conduit for the ASEAN member states in its interaction with the US.

The Philippines’ three-year action program as country coordinator will be discussed during the meetings in Manila.

During the Post Ministerial Conference with the US in Phuket, the US acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Southeast Asia of 1976, a key regional agreement on peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation.

Countries that acceded to the TAC should adhere to the principle of non-aggression and non-interference in the domestic affairs of each member.

The TAC, a regional code of conduct, is encouraging peaceful resolution of regional conflicts.

A senior DFA official, who asked not to be named, said the Philippines expects and will receive suggestions from member countries on how to enhance relations with the US, increase economic and business dialogue, discussions on regional and security issues and cooperation in various activities.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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