[PHOTO AT LEFT - A presidential photo taken at the ASEAN-US leaders' meeting in New York shows the Philippine flag inverted, with the red field atop the blue. The photo was still online at the Official Gazette website as of 7 p.m. Sunday.]

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 30, 2010 (GMANEWS TV) Malacañang will not demand an apology from the United States government because an inverted Philippine flag was displayed during a recent meeting of US and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders in New York.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the Philippine government is satisfied with the US Embassy's explanation that the error in the display of the Philippine flag was an "honest mistake."

The Philippine flag should always be displayed in such a way that the blue field is above the red field. The red field only goes above the blue field — similar to how the Philippine flag was displayed at the ASEAN assembly — when the country is in a state of war.

"We are satisfied that they recognized it was an honest mistake. What is important is that our relations continue to be friendly. I know that it was not an intentional faux pas on their part," Lacierda said in a press briefing.

Lacierda said Malacañang believes that the incorrect display of the flag was "not an intentional insult" to the Philippines.

A presidential photo taken at the ASEAN-US leaders' meeting in New York shows the Philippine flag inverted, with the red field atop the blue. The photo was still online at the Official Gazette website as of 7 p.m. Sunday.

Lacierda said Philippine protocol officers noticed that the flag was inverted and informed the protocol officers of the US State Department.

However, the error was not corrected because security was "very tight" at the meeting of US President Barack Obama and heads of the ASEAN countries, including President Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office informed the US Embassy in the Philippines of the incident. The embassy then promptly issued its statement explaining that the display of the inverted flag was an "honest mistake" although it did not explicitly apologize for the incident.

"This was an honest mistake. The US treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines which were demonstrated this past week during President Aquino’s trip to the US, with the signing of the MCC Compact, the US-ASEAN meeting, and the meeting of our two Presidents that followed it," US Embassy in Manila spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson said in a short statement.

At the Philippine military headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo, Armed Forces spokesperson Brig. Gen. Jose Mabanta said they believed the display of an inverted Philippine flag was an "honest mistake."

"We believe it is an honest mistake and apparently, the organizers themselves immediately came out with the sorry and excuses (statement)," Mabanta told reporters.

Mabanta said the incident will not strain relations between the Philippines and the US, particularly the assistance and training being given to Philippine troops in addressing terrorist threats in southern Philippines. "[The United States] remains a strong ally," he said.

Aquino arrived in the US on Tuesday morning last week for the US-ASEAN meeting, signing of the $434-million Millennium Challenge Corporation grant to the Philippines, the United Nations general assembly, and various business conferences, among others.

Lacierda said instead of dwelling on the incorrect display of the Philippine flag, the government prefers to focus on the "good news" Aquino will bring when he returns to Manila early on Tuesday, which includes the $2.7 billion in investment pledges from US firms. –VVP/RSJ, GMANews.TV

US: Inverted Philippine flag was `honest mistake' AP – Sun Sep 26, 4:06 pm ET

[PHOTO AT LEFT - UPSIDE DOWN. President Benigno Aquino III and US President Barack Obama in a press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Saturday. - Jay Morales / Malacañang Photo Bureau]

MANILA, Philippines – The U.S. government said Sunday it made an "honest mistake" when it displayed an inverted Philippine flag — which wrongfully signified that the Southeast Asian nation was in a state of war — in a meeting hosted by President Barack Obama.

The Philippine flag was displayed upside down behind President Benigno Aquino III when leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met Obama in New York on Friday.

"This was an honest mistake," U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Rebecca Thompson said in a statement, adding, "the U.S. treasures its close relationship and close partnership with the Philippines."

The American embassy will find out how the "unfortunate" incident happened, she said.

Philippine foreign affairs department spokesman Ed Malaya said the government understood that it was "an honest error" that "should not detract from the true significance of the summit, which showed the unprecedented cooperation between the ASEAN and the U.S."

It was not immediately clear who pointed out the mistake. A photograph of Aquino sitting beside Obama with the inverted flag behind them was displayed on a government website Sunday but its caption did not point out the error.

During the summit, Obama discussed ways of bolstering economic ties between the U.S. and Southeast Asia as well as Asian regional concerns such as territorial disputes in the South China Sea and Nov. 7 elections in military-ruled Myanmar.

Palace creates crisis war room By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated September 30, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (0) View comments

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino has created the Presidential Situation Room (PSR), a command center that will give the chief executive intelligence support during emergencies or crisis situations.

Through Administrative Order 2, Mr. Aquino allocated an initial amount of P5.5 million to form and equip the office. The PSR will be run by an executive director who will report directly to National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and Presidential Management Staff Secretary Julia Abad.

The initial budget for the PSR would come from the budget of the Office of the President. The National Security Council Secretariat was also directed to include in its annual appropriations succeeding budgetary support for the PSR.

Malacañang said that as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Mr. Aquino should have immediate access to information on events affecting national security so he could respond immediately.

The PSR would be responsible for monitoring events that threaten national security, as well as diplomatic and political ties. It would likewise be the primary monitoring and communications center in Malacañang on classified information.

It would also provide current intelligence support to the President, the Executive Secretary, the National Security Adviser and the Secretary of the Presidential Management Staff.

The PSR will likewise coordinate the collection, verification, and evaluation of highly sensitive information affecting national security.

Other agencies tasked to provide support to the PSR are the intelligence units of the AFP and the Philippine National Police, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency and representatives from Mr. Aquino’s Communications Group, who will help in manning the PSR.

The President had been criticized for being out of reach during the Aug. 23 hostage-taking incident that claimed the lives of eight Hong Kong tourists.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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