[PHOTO -APEC HOST Russian President Vladimir Putin greets President Aquino at the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok on Saturday. AP]

RUSSKIY ISLAND, VLADIVOSTOK, RUSSIA, SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 (INQUIRER) Russia President Vladimir Putin has bid “dasvidanya” to his guests in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting with President Benigno Aquino III failing to hold a much anticipated bilateral meeting with China President Hu Jintao in this former naval island fortress.

“We saw each other earlier and we didn’t have the chance to converse,” Aquino said of Hu Saturday night.

“The retreat (last Saturday) has already started before we saw each other. I didn’t see him actually at the cocktails before we had dinner. I think he was also busy with his own bilateral meetings,” said the President.

Aquino met with leaders of Chile and Singapore Saturday and Malaysia and Vietnam Sunday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario tried to secure a meeting with Hu before the closing of APEC at 1:00 pm (Vladivostok time) but the Chinese leader’s itinerary, which included a meeting Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper Sunday morning was also loaded.

In a briefing held an hour before Putin’s closing remarks, del Rosario said the President was unable to sit down with Hu in the last day of the APEC meeting.

[PHOTO -Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) listens to Chinese President Hu Jintao ]

“There was agreement on the format (on the bilateral talks). And so it just came to a scheduling challenge but as you can see, the scheduling challenge turned out to be a bigger challenge and we anticipated. Our schedule just didn’t jibe with each other,” said del Rosario.

The President’s chartered flight left for Manila at 4:00 pm (Vladivostok time). Del Rosario said the President was disappointed.

“I think that a lot could have been achieved in terms of a meeting between the leaders for them to be able to share the various points of view and I think that this probably is not only a downside for the Philippines but also for China. I think this is obviously a missed opportunity,” said del Rosario.

In a briefing Saturday night, the President said that he planned to conduct a “frank exchange of thoughts” with Hu in order to “divorce the talks from diplomatic niceties.”

The President’s last meeting with Hu was during his state visit to China in August last year and since then, their exchanges have been coursed through their respective ambassadors.

“I can’t say it’s a warmed up relationship but at least it’s less cold than what it was,”

At this point, the President said he would rather agree to disagree on things that divide the two countries specifically the West Philippine Sea dispute while moving forward on more negotiable matters.

He also said that bringing up the territorial dispute to the United Nations could be risky than it looked because “I was told by all the lawyers I talked that once we enter into litigation, we can win but we can also lose.”

The President said some APEC leaders offered practical advice that no political leader in his right mind would abandon something that their predecessors have claimed as theirs.

“Nobody can give up their sovereignty just like that. The political cost will not be bearable by whoever proposes it,” said the President. “If I gave up even one centimeter of our national territory, I’m sure there will be many who will impeach me.”


PNoy's SWS rating helped by Corona's ouster - Palace ( Updated September 07, 2012 04:48 PMComments (2)

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang attributed President Aquino’s higher satisfaction rating to the the government's reform efforts and the subsequent ouster of Renato Corona (photo) as chief justice.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said Corona’s impeachment was part of Aquino’s campaign against corruption.

“We wanted to impeach Chief Justice Corona because we think he was blocking the needed reforms in the judiciary,” Carandang told reporters Friday.

“I believe that the successful impeachment of the former Chief Justice had something to do with the approval ratings of the President,” he added.

The Senate, sitting as impeachment court, voted to impeach Corona May 29, making him the first chief justice to be removed from office.

Voting 20-3, the senators found Corona guilty of betrayal of public trust for his failure to disclose some of his alleged properties and bank accounts in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth from 2003 to 2010.

Administration allies describe Corona’s ouster as a victory of the people, but Aquino's critics believe the impeachment displayed the president’s dictatorial tendencies.

Carandang claimed the survey also reflected the public’s faith on Aquino.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the strong numbers affirm the president’s mandate for change.

“They (survey results) are tangible indicators of the people’s support for the difficult yet necessary reforms the President has championed since day one,” Lacierda said in a statement.

“Public confidence and trust in the President also suggests high morale in a public increasingly empowered, and itself sustained in its positive feeling about our nation’s direction and prospects for the future,” he added. – Alexis Romero

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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