P-NOY SEEKS SPAIN'S SUPPORT IN CHINA SEA DISPUTE 

SEPT 16 --PHOTO: President Aquino greets the Filipino community during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal monument in Madrid on Sunday. MADRID – President Aquino brought up yesterday the West Philippine Sea issue before Spanish leaders and sought their support for Manila’s position on tackling China’s aggressive acts in the region through legal and peaceful means. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President expressed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy his concern over China’s continued provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea, particularly Chinese reclamation activities on some reefs and shoals as well the continued presence of Chinese vessels in areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China is claiming almost the entire South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, using as basis what it calls historical records and ancient maps. Manila is contesting Beijing’s claims before The Hague-based international arbitral tribunal of the United Nations. In its Triple Action Plan (TAP), Manila’s approach to the problem is cessation of activities that escalate tension in the West Philippine Sea. For an intermediate approach, Manila is pushing for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC). As a final approach, the TAP underscores the need for a settlement mechanism anchored on international law. Coloma said the Philippines hopes that other claimant-states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN would consider Manila’s proposals contained in TAP. “The international community must uphold the rule of law for the sake of global peace, security and stability,” Coloma said. * READ MORE .... Facing Filipino community  --A pumped up President Aquino faced the Filipino community here Sunday night and told them about positive developments back home. He did not lash out at critics nor mention anything about the controversial term extension issue.......CONTINUE READING...

ALSO: Aquino in Madrid-- "The Philippines is not only open for business—it’s more fun to do business there." 

SEPT 16 --PHOTO: President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Slinas and Juan Sunye Deputy Chief of Protocol of the ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation upon arrival at Torrejon Airbase in Madrid Spain. Photo By: Gil Nartea/ Malacanang Photo Bureau. MADRID—The Philippines is not only open for business—it’s more fun to do business there. With these words, President Aquino began his European roadshow showcasing the country’s fast-rising economy before Spanish political leaders, investors, and members of the Filipino community here.

In speeches that sounded like a State of the Nation Address for a European audience, the President trumpeted the road networks, bridges and other infrastructure projects built under his watch, the country’s improved credit ratings, and better business climate, all to lure more potential investors. “We are determined to prove to the world an important truth about our country: In the Philippines you will find a place where the government is focused on investing on its greatest resource, its people; a nation where entrepreneurs are viewed as partners, and where everyone works to prove that, for tourists and businesses alike: Es más divertido en las Filipinas [It’s more fun in the Philippines,” he told Spanish businessmen and members of his business delegation on Sunday, Sept. 14.

But by Mr. Aquino’s own admission, the rosy picture he painted of the Philippines came at a price—horrendous traffic.
“Even traffic has changed—it has worsened today,” he acknowledged in jest in a speech before a gathering of Filipinos at the Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.But the President said the monster gridlock should instead be seen as the “mark of a robust economy,” repeating the same argument that brought him under heavy criticism last year. Among the Cabinet members in Mr. Aquino’s delegation is Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who is under fire as well over worsening conditions at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3. Transportation problems aside, the President spoke of a “transformation” that could be seen “everywhere you look” in the Philippines.
“To those of you who have not visited the Philippines in a long time, perhaps you would be surprised with the big changes,” he said, citing the “whole new different skyline” of Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao among other fast-rising regions.

“Even I seem to be getting lost myself because of the big changes we are now experiencing in infrastructure.”
The President highlighted his campaign against corruption, the centerpiece of his administration’s reform agenda, saying it ensured that the corrupt would go to jail “even if you are rich or powerful.” “Perhaps you have seen the pictures of those who are now in jail,” he told his Filipino audience in apparent reference to the three senators detained for allegedly pocketing millions in pork barrel.*READ MORE...

ALSO: Paris welcomes Aquino; Cory got same red carpet reception 25 years ago 

SEEPT 16 --PHOTO: C’EST MAGNIFIQUE President Aquino walks on a red carpet—80 meters long—upon arrival at the Orly International Airport in Paris on Wednesday for his official two-day visit to France. RYAN LIM/MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU. PARIS—Twenty-five years after the historic visit of the late President Corazon Aquino, her only son got his own taste of a Parisian welcome. France rolled out the red carpet—80 meters to be exact—when President Aquino arrived Wednesday at 10 a.m. (4 p.m. Manila time) at Orly Airport from Brussels, on his way to its Salon d’Honneur. He proceeded on board a presidential car to the presidential suite of the Hotel InterContinental Paris Le Grand, which offers a stunning view of the Paris Garnier Opera House. The President was given military honors at Arc De Triomphe, the iconic structure built in honor of soldiers who fought during the Napoleonic Wars, where he also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Judging by how the French prepared for Aquino’s official visit, he was no ordinary guest. Both French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls were scheduled to meet separately with Aquino on the first day of his visit. Aquino’s grand reception included a luncheon hosted by Hollande at the Palais de l’Elysée. It was not usual for both the French president and prime minister to meet a visiting head of state or government, Philippine Ambassador to France Maria Theresa Lazaro told the Inquirer via e-mail. Joint statement --The Philippines on Wednesday got a strongly worded statement of support from France in its effort to come up with a peaceful resolution of its territorial dispute with China. Presidents Aquino and Hollande issued a joint statement rejecting “any acquisition or claim, by coercion or force, of any or all territory of a State by another State, in violation of international law, especially the Charter of the United Nations.”

With Hollande attaching special importance to the visit of Aquino, both leaders “emphasized the importance of the full and effective implementation” of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
They also called for the “early conclusion” of a binding Code of Conduct to promote “peace and stability” in the region. The joint statement pretty much adopted the Philippines’ proposed Triple Action Plan to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea, around 90 percent of which is being claimed by Beijing. Hollande noted the importance of Aquino’s official visit, which came 25 years after France had rolled out the red carpet for his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1989. ‘You are her continuity’ --“You are not just her son—you are her continuity,” Hollande told Aquino through a translator. “You embody democracy in the Philippines.” *READ MORE

ALSO: ‘There’s still time for Charter change’; If there’s a will, there’s a way, Aquino says of second term 

SEPT 17 --BRUSSELS, Belgium—President Aquino believes there is still time to amend the Constitution to lift the provision limiting him to a single term, if he should decide to seek a fresh mandate.
Aquino said Tuesday (Manila time) it was too early to talk politics but did it just the same when he was met by flag-waving Filipinos who gathered at the 11th-century Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in the Belgian capital. He said Filipino voters would be choosing between two kinds of candidates in the 2016 presidential election, one who would continue “all the reforms that we have started” and another who has been opposing them but might later claim to embrace continuity.
Speaking of the latter, he asked: “Are we ready to gamble on them? Isn’t continuity assured if we would side with the one, who, this early, is clearly contributing?”

Aquino endorsed no specific candidate, but left open the possibility that that person might ultimately turn out to be himself.  Two years remaining ---Speaking with reporters on board a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from Madrid to Brussels, he said he could still make a second run for the presidency even if that would require amending the Constitution with less than two years remaining before the next elections. “Don’t we have a saying that if one wants something, nothing is impossible, but if he doesn’t, nothing is possible?” he said. “So, if the vast majority think that this is the route that has to be taken, then there will be a way based on the Constitution to afford that opportunity,” he said. Clash with Binay ---A second Aquino run for the presidency would collide with the political ambitions of Vice President Jejomar Binay, an Aquino family friend who has long announced that he would seek the highest office in 2016. Aquino said Binay “has committed to me to be supportive until the last day of my term and I appreciate that.”

ALSO: Not enough time for Cha-cha – Drilon  

SEPT 18 Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday that amending the Constitution for the purpose of extending the term of President Aquino is not a priority of the Senate. Interviewed over radio station dzRH, Drilon said the Senate is focused on two bills at this time – the 2015 national budget and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law. Congress must also tackle President Aquino’s request for emergency powers to deal with a power shortage in the summer of 2015. “That is why I don’t see that and we don’t have time for that,” Drilon said, referring to Charter change (Cha-cha). “These laws will occupy the calendar of the Senate.”

In previous statements, Drilon said the agreement he had with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Charter change was that the Senate would take it up once the House of Representatives has passed its proposed amendments. However, the agreement was that the amendments would cover only certain economic provisions and nothing political, Drilon said. “In the Senate, there are only proposed bills that we have to prioritize and pass right away. There’s the Bangsamoro bill that we have to approve by the first quarter of next year and the national budget for 2015 that we have to finish by December,” he said. Drilon also cited the joint resolution requested by the President from Congress so that he could contract additional generating capacity in anticipation of a power supply shortage next summer. No to Cha-cha  --Yesterday, Vice President Jejomar Binay reiterated his strong opposition to Charter change amid efforts to extend the term of Aquino beyond 2016.

In an interview at the sidelines of the Mining Philippines 2014 conference and exhibition at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Binay said he would only support Cha-cha if it would exclusively touch the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution. “I am against Charter change, unless it is on economic provisions,” he said. *READ MORE...

ALSO: P-Noy Cha-cha hint while on way to Brussels, stirs LP caucus bid 

SEPT 18 --The ruling Liberal Party and its coalition partners were urged Wednesday to come together to decide on the party direction on whether or not it will pursue political reforms in the 1987 Constitution to allow President Benigno Aquino III to seek reelection in 2016. LP stalwart and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he would propose that the party would hold a meeting “to agree on the term extension” for the President. “Its time that the LP and its coalition partners hold a party caucus to determine if we will agree on term extension,” Erice told the Manila Standard, adding that the proposed meeting should be held by Sept. 25 as soon as the President arrived from his Europe trip. Should the party agree on his proposal to tinker with the political provisions of the Constitution, Erice said, then he will file it when Congress resumes session in October.

Erice’s statement came after President Aquino once again hinted at his openness to seek a second term if only to continue the reforms that have been initiated under his administration. Erice said that any effort to amend the political provisions of the Constitution in the House should happen between October and November of this year, otherwise it will no longer prosper. Erice said he was confident that President Aquino would heed his call through a resolution to be filed in Congress seeking a second term for the President “to ensure continuity” of the reforms he had initiated under his administration.

The LP leadership, in its recent party meeting, said it would not impose a party stand on constitutional amendments the way the President would have wanted it. Even House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. earlier said the political Charter Change would take the backseat as the House leadership would have to finish first its deliberations on the Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 of Belmonte that seeks to amend specific economic provisions of the Charter. Erice who is spearheading the political Cha-cha in the House seeks to give president and vice president of the Republic of the Philippine “two consecutive terms of four years each” from one year term of six years. Erice’s proposal gave administration critics an opening to challenge President Aquino to categorically say ‘no’ to a second term to put an end to endless speculation that he will not step down come 2016. *READ MORE...

ALSO by Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva:  European tour  

SEPT 15 -- It’s travel time. It is the right season for junkets. President Noynoy Simeon Aquino
embarks on a
four-nation European swing to drum up support for the West Philippine Sea issue
and European investments in the Philippines.  It is reminded that Paris, “a moveable feast,” according to Ernest Hemingway, is at its loveliest and gayest at this time of the year, or the beginning of autumn.

It is also noted that President Aquino, coincidentally, tends to schedule and time his foreign trips whenever it becomes stressful and disorderly in Manila, and leaves the damage control and denials to his Cabinet spokesmen and congressional allies. In fact, the timing of the proposed visits to Spain, France, Belgium, and state visit to Germany is ill-advised and an unnecessary waste of funds. In nearly 40 foreign trips in three years of President Aquino, new inflows of foreign fixed investments have been measly compared to neighboring countries, notwithstanding the fact that the raison d’etre of these foreign visits is invariably to generate investments and tourism.

It is opined that this particular trip of President Aquino to Western Europe is ill-timed as far as the European Union is concerned. On the other hand, it is timely and an appropriate opportunity to commune and dialogue with his “bosses,” the OFWs, especially in Spain, France, and Germany, where there are many Filipino workers, and many pending issues related to human trafficking, abuses, drugs, and others. The EU itself, of which Germany and France are the major players, is under severe strain. Its plate is full with problems ranging from the political disintegration of Libya to the ISIS crisis in Syria and Iraq, and deepening civil war in the Ukraine.

The headaches of the European Union are further exacerbated by the slow and sluggish economic recovery that is compounded and complicated by the “war of sanctions” between the United States and EU, on one hand, and Russia’s Putin, on the other, with gas and oil supplies, and pipeline restrictions at the center of the conflict which Russia is using to retaliate against the West as Russia is the main gas supplier to Western Europe, and aggravated by the separationist movement and conflict in eastern Ukraine. In other words, the EU has little time for President Aquino’s European tour. For these reasons, after the torrid summer heat of Madrid, and showery Brussels and romantic Paris, President Noynoy Aquino and his usual entourage might as well enjoy the bright lights of Berlin, and perhaps catch up with the “Oktoberfest” in Munich. *READ MORE...
 


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P-Noy seeks Spain’s support in sea dispute



President Aquino greets the Filipino community during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal monument in Madrid on Sunday.

MADRID, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Aurea Calica - MADRID – President Aquino brought up yesterday the West Philippine Sea issue before Spanish leaders and sought their support for Manila’s position on tackling China’s aggressive acts in the region through legal and peaceful means.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President expressed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy his concern over China’s continued provocative actions in the West Philippine Sea, particularly Chinese reclamation activities on some reefs and shoals as well the continued presence of Chinese vessels in areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

China is claiming almost the entire South China Sea and West Philippine Sea, using as basis what it calls historical records and ancient maps.

Manila is contesting Beijing’s claims before The Hague-based international arbitral tribunal of the United Nations.

In its Triple Action Plan (TAP), Manila’s approach to the problem is cessation of activities that escalate tension in the West Philippine Sea. For an intermediate approach, Manila is pushing for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC).

As a final approach, the TAP underscores the need for a settlement mechanism anchored on international law.

Coloma said the Philippines hopes that other claimant-states in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN would consider Manila’s proposals contained in TAP.

“The international community must uphold the rule of law for the sake of global peace, security and stability,” Coloma said.

* On the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), Coloma said the President thanked the Spanish government for its support in the peace initiatives of the government.

“We also value the insights on the existing Autonomous Communities in Spain gained through the study visits of our delegates to your country. This will help our government officials and legislators who will be involved in the creation of the Bangsamoro political entity,” Coloma quoted the President as saying.

Coloma said the President also expressed hope that Spain would continue to be “our partner in the development of Mindanao.”

Aquino, according to Coloma, also thanked Rajoy and the people of Spain for their generous assistance to the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda and of other calamities.

The President invited Spain to become part of the Philippines’ efforts to “build back better, faster and safer,” Coloma said, emphasizing that the country is open to development partnerships, either with the public or private sector.

Firmer trade ties

On the economy, Coloma said the President told Rajoy he is looking forward to closer cooperation between the two countries with the signing of the extension of bilateral development partnership until 2017.

“We greatly appreciate being the only priority country in Asia under the Master Plan of Spanish Cooperation in 2013 to 2016,” Coloma said.

He pointed out that the Philippine economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2013 and six percent in the first half of 2014 despite the uncertain global environment and the impact of Yolanda and other natural disasters.

The President, Coloma said, likewise welcomed efforts to finalize an air transport agreement that could lead to direct flights between Manila and Madrid soon.

The President, Coloma said, also noted the milestone cooperation agreement between the Philippines and Spain on fighting transnational crime. The agreement was initialed in Manila last March.

“With the security challenges that our countries face these days, such a partnership proves crucial to our law enforcement agencies in protecting our citizens from transnational threats,” Coloma quoted Aquino as saying.

Facing kababayans

A pumped up President Aquino faced the Filipino community here Sunday night and told them about positive developments back home.

He did not lash out at critics nor mention anything about the controversial term extension issue.

Aquino said his dream is to see a Philippines where opportunities abound and where government is truly deserving of the people’s trust.

He pointed out that those working to improve their talents must be recognized and given opportunity to further improve their lives.

The President said perseverance and integrity must result in progress for Filipinos.

“All I can say is... the Philippines is getting there,” Aquino said.

The President even managed to joke about his “change” mantra affecting everything even the traffic, which he said had gotten worse.

He also quipped that his bouts of coughing would be the ones reported in the media instead of his speech. When his coughing became severe, he again joked that somebody was casting a spell on him. But with prayers from supporters, things won’t get any worse, he said.

Aquino said more people could afford to buy their own cars now and that road construction and infrastructure development could not match the pace of vehicle sales.

The President also cited the close to 500,000 jobs in business process outsourcing. He also said the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority was able to provide employment opportunities to hundreds.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino: It’s more fun to do business in the Philippines By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine economy3:31 pm | Monday, September 15th, 2014


President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Spain Carlos Slinas and Juan Sunye Deputy Chief of Protocol of the ministry of foreign affairs and cooperation upon arrival at Torrejon Airbase in Madrid Spain. Photo By: Gil Nartea/ Malacanang Photo Bureau

MADRID—The Philippines is not only open for business—it’s more fun to do business there.

With these words, President Aquino began his European roadshow showcasing the country’s fast-rising economy before Spanish political leaders, investors, and members of the Filipino community here.

In speeches that sounded like a State of the Nation Address for a European audience, the President trumpeted the road networks, bridges and other infrastructure projects built under his watch, the country’s improved credit ratings, and better business climate, all to lure more potential investors.

“We are determined to prove to the world an important truth about our country: In the Philippines you will find a place where the government is focused on investing on its greatest resource, its people; a nation where entrepreneurs are viewed as partners, and where everyone works to prove that, for tourists and businesses alike:

Es más divertido en las Filipinas [It’s more fun in the Philippines,” he told Spanish businessmen and members of his business delegation on Sunday, Sept. 14.

But by Mr. Aquino’s own admission, the rosy picture he painted of the Philippines came at a price—horrendous traffic.

“Even traffic has changed—it has worsened today,” he acknowledged in jest in a speech before a gathering of Filipinos at the Colegio Nuestra Señora de las Maravillas.

But the President said the monster gridlock should instead be seen as the “mark of a robust economy,” repeating the same argument that brought him under heavy criticism last year.

Among the Cabinet members in Mr. Aquino’s delegation is Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, who is under fire as well over worsening conditions at the Metro Rail Transit Line 3.

Transportation problems aside, the President spoke of a “transformation” that could be seen “everywhere you look” in the Philippines.

“To those of you who have not visited the Philippines in a long time, perhaps you would be surprised with the big changes,” he said, citing the “whole new different skyline” of Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao among other fast-rising regions.

“Even I seem to be getting lost myself because of the big changes we are now experiencing in infrastructure.”

The President highlighted his campaign against corruption, the centerpiece of his administration’s reform agenda, saying it ensured that the corrupt would go to jail “even if you are rich or powerful.”

“Perhaps you have seen the pictures of those who are now in jail,” he told his Filipino audience in apparent reference to the three senators detained for allegedly pocketing millions in pork barrel.

* In a separate event with Spanish businessmen later in the evening, the President said now was “an opportune time to invite you to invest in a resurgent economy.”

He noted that the Philippine economy grew by an a average of 6.3 percent since he assumed office in 2010 until 2013, compared to the “primarily consumer-driven” 4.3-percent improvement three years before that.

In a bilateral meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Monday, Mr. Aquino cited his host country’s own “positive economic news.” Europe’s economy has generally performed poorly but the President noted that Spain was showing “encouraging signs of recovery.”

“I hope that the economic gains in both our countries would translate into increased bilateral trade and investments,” he told Rajoy.

Mr. Aquino told Spanish businessmen that the Philippines was “working from strength to strength,” citing efforts to invest more in infrastructure, develop other industries like manufacturing, and provide more social services “so that more Filipinos can take part and contribute to this economic resurgence.”

“We are also cutting red tape, to make it easier for businesses to set up shop at home, and we are pushing for needed reform to liberalize industries that will invite greater enterprise, such as those in banking,” he said.

The President said the Philippines was just getting started.

“All of this, we have to stress, is only the beginning. Our focus has always been on inclusive growth, which necessarily means prioritizing our greatest resource, the Filipino people,” he said.

“To my ‘bosses,’ this is reform: the system is fixed, the economy improves and moves forward to build a society teeming with opportunities,” he said.

FROM THE INQUIRER

Paris welcomes Aquino By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer12:45 am | Thursday, September 18th, 2014


Aquino arrives at the Orly Airport in France to begin his two-day official visit MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU. C’EST MAGNIFIQUE President Aquino walks on a red carpet—80 meters long—upon arrival at the Orly International Airport in Paris on Wednesday for his official two-day visit to France. RYAN LIM/MALACAÑANG PHOTO BUREAU

PARIS—Twenty-five years after the historic visit of the late President Corazon Aquino, her only son got his own taste of a Parisian welcome.

France rolled out the red carpet—80 meters to be exact—when President Aquino arrived Wednesday at 10 a.m. (4 p.m. Manila time) at Orly Airport from Brussels, on his way to its Salon d’Honneur.

He proceeded on board a presidential car to the presidential suite of the Hotel InterContinental Paris Le Grand, which offers a stunning view of the Paris Garnier Opera House.

The President was given military honors at Arc De Triomphe, the iconic structure built in honor of soldiers who fought during the Napoleonic Wars, where he also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Judging by how the French prepared for Aquino’s official visit, he was no ordinary guest.

Both French President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls were scheduled to meet separately with Aquino on the first day of his visit. Aquino’s grand reception included a luncheon hosted by Hollande at the Palais de l’Elysée.

It was not usual for both the French president and prime minister to meet a visiting head of state or government, Philippine Ambassador to France Maria Theresa Lazaro told the Inquirer via e-mail.

Joint statement

The Philippines on Wednesday got a strongly worded statement of support from France in its effort to come up with a peaceful resolution of its territorial dispute with China.

Presidents Aquino and Hollande issued a joint statement rejecting “any acquisition or claim, by coercion or force, of any or all territory of a State by another State, in violation of international law, especially the Charter of the United Nations.”

With Hollande attaching special importance to the visit of Aquino, both leaders “emphasized the importance of the full and effective implementation” of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

They also called for the “early conclusion” of a binding Code of Conduct to promote “peace and stability” in the region. The joint statement pretty much adopted the Philippines’ proposed Triple Action Plan to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea, around 90 percent of which is being claimed by Beijing.

Hollande noted the importance of Aquino’s official visit, which came 25 years after France had rolled out the red carpet for his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, in 1989.

‘You are her continuity’

“You are not just her son—you are her continuity,” Hollande told Aquino through a translator. “You embody democracy in the Philippines.”

* The President’s arrival came more than two decades after France first rolled out the red carpet for his mother in 1989, three years after the Edsa People Power Revolution. She has since become a towering icon of democracy.

How the French valued Corazon Aquino was documented by the Presidential Management Staff in 1992. Among the world leaders invited to the Bicentennial Celebration of the Fall of Bastille in 1989, she was “bestowed the singular honor of being the only state visitor,” it noted.

“This rare honor was given prominence along Champs-Elysees where the Philippine flag was flown alongside the French tricolor during the peak of the celebrations,” it recalled.

“Hundreds of French Republic Guards on horseback were a magnificent sight to behold as they cantered forward, blowing on trumpets as they escorted President (Cory) Aquino to the State Guesthouse. All roads leading to Marigny were closed to traffic to accommodate the Presidential entourage.”

Message, symbolism

Years later, the younger Aquino got his turn, his visit “important in both the message it sends and its symbolism,” Lazaro said.

She noted how the Philippines turned from a “pariah state” of France during martial law, to its “darling” when democracy was restored in 1986.

France was the first country to recognize the Cory Aquino government.

Lazaro recalled that at the state dinner for Cory Aquino, then French President François Mitterrand explained why she was a special guest.

“The commemoration of the Bicentenary of the French Revolution… is, for us French, somewhat exceptional. I wanted to invite, for this occasion, a few of those people who are working to create a more just and more generous world in the spirit of the universal values of human rights and democracy that France proposed to the world in 1789,” Mitterrand had said.

Two Frenchmen present during the first Aquino visit—business leader Thierry Courtaigne and journalist Michel De Grandi—were scheduled to see Aquino during the Philippine-France Business Council gathering Thursday. De Grandi was to interview Aquino, Lazaro said.
“Twenty years later, bilateral relations between the Philippines and France have evolved,” Lazaro said. “While cooperation in culture as well as in official development assistance remains, foremost in President Aquino’s agenda with President François Hollande are economic and trade relations, including defense cooperation.”

‘Shared values’

Aquino cited the “shared values” between Paris and Manila, noting that France was “among the first in the community of nations to recognize the revolutionary government of my mother,” following a bloodless revolt in 1986.

“France, at a critical juncture in my nation’s history, stood by us, as we worked to rebuild our democratic institutions.

Then as now, France has been a close friend and a reliable partner of the Filipino people,” he said.

Hollande and Aquino witnessed the signing of three agreements: Updated Air Services Agreement, the 2014-2016 Executive Program of the Cultural Cooperation Agreement, and a Memorandum of Understanding between the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the French National School for Administration (ENA).

A fourth agreement was signed between Globe Telecom and French telecommunications company Alcatel-Lucent over the Filipino firm’s move from 3G to 4G technology.

The Air Services Agreement will pave the way for direct flights between Manila and Paris, which “will boost tourism and economic trade,” Lazaro told the Inquirer.

The ambassador said the cultural cooperation agreement would “provide for visiting artists, heritage restoration and conservation and cultural management, among others.” “The MOU between the DAP and ENA will provide for academic exchanges, particularly in the field of the training of public servants,” Lazaro added.

Aquino said he was looking at France as a “reliable partner” in the ongoing modernization of the Philippine military.

France and the Philippines are set to sign later this year an updated defense cooperation agreement, renewing the one signed in 1994. The new deal would cover defense equipment, logistics and defense industries, the two leaders said.

Hollande said he and Aquino agreed to place political cooperation between their two countries at an “exceptional level.”

Originally posted at 5:24 pm | Wednesday, September 17, 2014

‘There’s still time for Charter change’; If there’s a will, there’s a way, Aquino says of second term
By Christian V. Esguerra |Philippine Daily Inquirer2:58 am | Wednesday, September 17th, 2014


AQUINO

BRUSSELS, Belgium—President Aquino believes there is still time to amend the Constitution to lift the provision limiting him to a single term, if he should decide to seek a fresh mandate.

Aquino said Tuesday (Manila time) it was too early to talk politics but did it just the same when he was met by flag-waving Filipinos who gathered at the 11th-century Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in the Belgian capital.

He said Filipino voters would be choosing between two kinds of candidates in the 2016 presidential election, one who would continue “all the reforms that we have started” and another who has been opposing them but might later claim to embrace continuity.

Speaking of the latter, he asked: “Are we ready to gamble on them? Isn’t continuity assured if we would side with the one, who, this early, is clearly contributing?”

Aquino endorsed no specific candidate, but left open the possibility that that person might ultimately turn out to be himself.

Two years remaining

Speaking with reporters on board a chartered Philippine Airlines flight from Madrid to Brussels, he said he could still make a second run for the presidency even if that would require amending the Constitution with less than two years remaining before the next elections.

“Don’t we have a saying that if one wants something, nothing is impossible, but if he doesn’t, nothing is possible?” he said.

“So, if the vast majority think that this is the route that has to be taken, then there will be a way based on the Constitution to afford that opportunity,” he said.

Clash with Binay

A second Aquino run for the presidency would collide with the political ambitions of Vice President Jejomar Binay, an Aquino family friend who has long announced that he would seek the highest office in 2016.

Aquino said Binay “has committed to me to be supportive until the last day of my term and I appreciate that.”
* In his meeting with members of the Filipino community here, the President spoke of the type of candidate who “does nothing but oppose all the reforms that we have been fighting for.”

“Because they oppose what we are doing, they are also against the ‘righteous path’ [tuwid na daan],” he said.

In a second term, Aquino said he would be “more efficient without a learning curve.” But he said he was also considering the toll on his personal life and on those of his Cabinet members.

Conscience will tell me’

In the end, Aquino said he would decide based on “what would be in the best interest of the state.”

“My conscience will tell me, after listening to everybody—this is the course to take,” he said.

In his speech before Filipinos here, the President vowed to continue running after the “big fish” in his campaign against corruption, using as an example the three senators now detained in connection with the pork barrel scam.

“If it is proven that they had sinned against the people, they will be made accountable. Clearly, we are casting a wide net of justice and we will not let [the corrupt] off the hook, especially the big fish,” he said.

In Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte on Tuesday said the President and his reform agenda have “upset a lot of people’s rice bowls” and they are the ones wanting to make him look like a lame duck less than two years before his term ends.

“It’s not a secret that we did upset a lot of people. I used the word ‘upset’ to try to be polite… You hear this from him (President Aquino) most of the time that since his assumption into office, he has upset a lot of people’s rice bowls and that’s not a small thing. That is a very serious thing,” Valte said in a media briefing.

A lame duck

Valte was asked on how concerned Malacañang was that there are forces—as the President himself told the Inquirer last week—that want to render him already ineffectual as he approaches the end of his six-year term.

“The President has always acknowledged that there are those who would want to return to the norm of business as usual, that we go back to how it was before. I can tell you that it is in the interest of these people to go back to business as usual to make it seem that the President is a lame duck,” she said.–With Nikko Dizon
Originally posted: 3:00 pm | Tuesday, September 16th, 2014


FROM PHILSTAR

Not enough time for Cha-cha – Drilon By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 18, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


DRILON

MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Franklin Drilon said yesterday that amending the Constitution for the purpose of extending the term of President Aquino is not a priority of the Senate.

Interviewed over radio station dzRH, Drilon said the Senate is focused on two bills at this time – the 2015 national budget and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

Congress must also tackle President Aquino’s request for emergency powers to deal with a power shortage in the summer of 2015.

“That is why I don’t see that and we don’t have time for that,” Drilon said, referring to Charter change (Cha-cha). “These laws will occupy the calendar of the Senate.”

In previous statements, Drilon said the agreement he had with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Charter change was that the Senate would take it up once the House of Representatives has passed its proposed amendments.

However, the agreement was that the amendments would cover only certain economic provisions and nothing political, Drilon said.

“In the Senate, there are only proposed bills that we have to prioritize and pass right away. There’s the Bangsamoro bill that we have to approve by the first quarter of next year and the national budget for 2015 that we have to finish by December,” he said.

Drilon also cited the joint resolution requested by the President from Congress so that he could contract additional generating capacity in anticipation of a power supply shortage next summer.

No to Cha-cha

Yesterday, Vice President Jejomar Binay reiterated his strong opposition to Charter change amid efforts to extend the term of Aquino beyond 2016.

In an interview at the sidelines of the Mining Philippines 2014 conference and exhibition at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Binay said he would only support Cha-cha if it would exclusively touch the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

“I am against Charter change, unless it is on economic provisions,” he said.

* He added that he is for the 60-40 sharing on mining “so there is really a need to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution.”

He noted that there is a need to reconcile the negative effects of mining with the gains that the country will get from it.

“That is what we are saying. The negative of it must be reconciled with its positive aspect. From the very start, I have been supporting revenue sharing between the government and the mining firms,” Binay said.

He welcomed the call to harmonize the national and local mining industry.

“We will have them face each other. That is one of the challenges that I face as vice president – the monitoring and coordination of all departments in the government,” he said.

Binay said local government has to be monitored if it is going beyond its job.

“Coordination, you have to put them together. The national laws must be harmonized with the local laws based on the needs of the community. That is coordination and monitoring.

“Let’s hope and pray that (mining firms) will get the necessary documents so that they will be able to operate,” he said. – With Jose Rodel Clapano

FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

P-Noy Cha-cha hint stirs LP caucus bid By Maricel Cruz | Sep. 18, 2014 at 12:01am

The ruling Liberal Party and its coalition partners were urged Wednesday to come together to decide on the party direction on whether or not it will pursue political reforms in the 1987 Constitution to allow President Benigno Aquino III to seek reelection in 2016.

LP stalwart and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said he would propose that the party would hold a meeting “to agree on the term extension” for the President.

“Its time that the LP and its coalition partners hold a party caucus to determine if we will agree on term extension,” Erice told the Manila Standard, adding that the proposed meeting should be held by Sept. 25 as soon as the President arrived from his Europe trip.

Should the party agree on his proposal to tinker with the political provisions of the Constitution, Erice said, then he will file it when Congress resumes session in October.

Erice’s statement came after President Aquino once again hinted at his openness to seek a second term if only to continue the reforms that have been initiated under his administration.

Erice said that any effort to amend the political provisions of the Constitution in the House should happen between October and November of this year, otherwise it will no longer prosper.

Erice said he was confident that President Aquino would heed his call through a resolution to be filed in Congress seeking a second term for the President “to ensure continuity” of the reforms he had initiated under his administration.

The LP leadership, in its recent party meeting, said it would not impose a party stand on constitutional amendments the way the President would have wanted it.

Even House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. earlier said the political Charter Change would take the backseat as the House leadership would have to finish first its deliberations on the Resolution of Both Houses No. 1 of Belmonte that seeks to amend specific economic provisions of the Charter.

Erice who is spearheading the political Cha-cha in the House seeks to give president and vice president of the Republic of the Philippine “two consecutive terms of four years each” from one year term of six years.

Erice’s proposal gave administration critics an opening to challenge President Aquino to categorically say ‘no’ to a second term to put an end to endless speculation that he will not step down come 2016.

* Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate, member of the Makabayan Bloc which is allied with the House minority bloc, said that it would presumptious for the President to say that he is open to the idea of seeking election if the Filipino people asks for it and so to continue the reforms that has been initiated under his administration.

“For the president to believe that the people still wanted him beyond 2016 is truly presumptuous, even bordering on being delusional,” Zarate said.

Zarate said it would be best for the President to declare now what his political plans after he finishes his term in 2016 so as not to confuse the people.

“How presumptuous of him to think that the people will be deceived again to reelect him? With his flipflopping statements, [President Aquino] is actually causing not only confusion but even destabilization in our muddled political situation now,” Zarate said.

Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, member of the House independent bloc, said President Aquino should stop the striptease and be categorical about his desire to seek a second term.

“He is already flirting with the Constitution and it is not prosper for the Chief Executive to insist in testing the limits of the Constitution,” de la Cruz said.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, an opposition congressman, also member of the House minority, said President Aquino should not anymore entertain the thought of seeking a second term because the Filipino people will oppose it.

“He cannot have the Constitution amended because he does not have the vote of three-fourth vote in the Senate,” Albano said.

But Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal defended Aquino, saying that the President’ statement about his plan after his presidency was based on questions being posed to him that are “hypothetical and speculative.”

MANILA BULLETIN OPINION

European tour by Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva September 15, 2014 Share this:

 “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese.” — Charles de Gaulle


Former Press Secretary Hector R. Villanueva

It’s travel time. It is the right season for junkets. President Noynoy Simeon Aquino embarks on a four-nation European swing to drum up support for the West Philippine Sea issue and European investments in the Philippines.

It is reminded that Paris, “a moveable feast,” according to Ernest Hemingway, is at its loveliest and gayest at this time of the year, or the beginning of autumn.

It is also noted that President Aquino, coincidentally, tends to schedule and time his foreign trips whenever it becomes stressful and disorderly in Manila, and leaves the damage control and denials to his Cabinet spokesmen and congressional allies.

In fact, the timing of the proposed visits to Spain, France, Belgium, and state visit to Germany is ill-advised and an unnecessary waste of funds.

In nearly 40 foreign trips in three years of President Aquino, new inflows of foreign fixed investments have been measly compared to neighboring countries, notwithstanding the fact that the raison d’etre of these foreign visits is invariably to generate investments and tourism.

It is opined that this particular trip of President Aquino to Western Europe is ill-timed as far as the European Union is concerned.

On the other hand, it is timely and an appropriate opportunity to commune and dialogue with his “bosses,” the OFWs, especially in Spain, France, and Germany, where there are many Filipino workers, and many pending issues related to human trafficking, abuses, drugs, and others.

The EU itself, of which Germany and France are the major players, is under severe strain.

Its plate is full with problems ranging from the political disintegration of Libya to the ISIS crisis in Syria and Iraq, and deepening civil war in the Ukraine.

The headaches of the European Union are further exacerbated by the slow and sluggish economic recovery that is compounded and complicated by the “war of sanctions” between the United States and EU, on one hand, and Russia’s Putin, on the other, with gas and oil supplies, and pipeline restrictions at the center of the conflict which Russia is using to retaliate against the West as Russia is the main gas supplier to Western Europe, and aggravated by the separationist movement and conflict in eastern Ukraine.

In other words, the EU has little time for President Aquino’s European tour.

For these reasons, after the torrid summer heat of Madrid, and showery Brussels and romantic Paris, President Noynoy Aquino and his usual entourage might as well enjoy the bright lights of Berlin, and perhaps catch up with the “Oktoberfest” in Munich.

* By the way, it is hoped that President Noynoy Aquino will not again meet in secret with the MILF Chairman Ibrahim Al-Haq Murad in Europe without informing the Filipino public.

Anyway, compared to the enormity and abuse of the PDAF and DAP scandals, the expenses for these foreign trips fall under petty cash.

When all is said and done, while it is given that foreign visits are necessary and are an integral responsibility of the Chief of State, the foreign forays should at least be more productive, fruitful, and rewarding, and not an escape from the woes and travails in the domestic front.

You be the judge


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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