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Dpartment of Foreign Affairs-Updates

President Arroyo Arrives with 120 Distressed OFWs from Saudi Arabia

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 03:46 AM PDT

PR-754-09, 24 September 2009 – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived today from her trips to Turkey, United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, bringing with her 120 distressed Filipino workers from Riyadh.

The OFWs, which are all women, were repatriated following strong representations made by the President with Saudi government authorities.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos, Jr. welcomed the President and her party at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.

While in Riyadh, President Arroyo instructed Labor Secretary Marianito D. Roque to expedite the processing of the exit papers of said OFWs so “they can have relief and be brought home as soon as possible.”

She also instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to finalize the arrangements for their repatriation.

President Arroyo has also ordered the facilitation of the exit papers of the remaining stranded Filipino workers who previously stayed under the Kandara bridge in Jeddah.

To date, 97 have already been repatriated by the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah.

The Philippine Government has extended its gratitude to the Saudi government for the immediate processing of the exit papers of the Filipinos. END

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RP Embassy in Bangkok Celebrates International Day of Democracy

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 03:31 AM PDT

PH-159-09,(left photo) Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Antonio V. Rodriguez (middle) speaks before the Filipino community during the commemoration of International Day of Democracy on 18 September 2009 at the Chancery. To his right is Consul General Edgar B. Badajos who briefed the community on consular and other issues, and to his left is ATN Officer Roberto R. Reyes. (right photo) Filipino priest, Father John Tamayo, SDB, announces the Search for the Exemplary Overseas Filipino Worker in Thailand. The winner will be announced on September 27, Feast Day of San Lorenzo Ruiz, and receive a gold-capped statute of the patron saint of OFWs.

(right photo) Mr. Elmer Ursolino, Vice President of the Organization of Filipino Educators in the South of Thailand (OFEST), Pattani, appeals to the Filipino community for donations of second-hand school supplies for the newly-found organization’s education-related projects. (left photo) Some members of the Filipino community who attended the “Day of Democracy” Townhall meeting at the Chancery on 18 September 2009.

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Filipino Student Wins ASEAN-Korea Multimedia Contest

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 01:49 AM PDT

PR-753-09, 24 September 2009 – Filipino student Jophel Ybiosa of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines won the first place honor in the photography category of the 2009 ASEAN-Korea Multimedia Competition. Ybiosa’s winning entries entitled “Giants” feature the Higantes Festival of Angono, Rizal.

At the awarding ceremony held in Seoul on September 23, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis T. Cruz lauded Mr. Ybiosa for its creativity and excellence in photography and further encouraged the student to continue with his involvement in various ASEAN awareness programs.

University of the Philippines student MM Yu was also awarded the honor of “Special Guest Artist” in recognition of her outstanding entries.

The contest, which carries the theme “Cultural Diversity and Harmony,” was divided in two categories namely, video/multimedia and photography, and was participated in by over 350 ASEAN and Korean university and graduate students. Winning entries and other selected works will be displayed at the Seoul Art Space from September 23 to October 10.

The ASEAN-Korea Multimedia Competition was organized by the ASEAN-Korea Center, in cooperation with the 10 ASEAN embassies in Seoul.

ASEAN-Korea Centre is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting economic and socio-cultural cooperation between ASEAN and Korea. END

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RP Embassy in Kuala Lumpur Hosts Iftar Dinner

Posted: 24 Sep 2009 01:39 AM PDT

PR-752-09, 24 September 2009 – In observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur hosted an iftar/buka puasa (or the evening meal when Muslims break their fast) at the Chancery on September 17.

Together with Embassy officers and staff, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Victoriano M. Lecaros welcomed guests from the Royal Malaysian Police, Immigration Office, and Filipino Muslim students from the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

Aside from the food prepared by the caterer, the Embassy’s long-time locally-hired driver/messenger Ahmad Bin Buyong brought a beef rendang to add a Malaysian feel to the iftar.

The hosting of the iftar is part of the Embassy’s cultural diplomacy efforts to foster camaraderie between the Muslim and non-Muslim personnel of the Embassy, as well as with the Embassy’s Malaysian contacts during this important Muslim event.

Malaysia celebrated the Hari Raya Idul Fitri, which marks the end of the Holy Month, on September 20-21. END

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Philippines Opens Honorary Consulate General in Recife, Brazil

Posted: 23 Sep 2009 11:55 PM PDT

PR-751-09, 24 September 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Brasilia reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that, on 18 September 2009, the Philippines opened an Honorary Consulate General in the State of Pernambuco with Mr. Sergio Kano as Philippine Consul General, ad honorem. Based in Recife, the Consulate General will cover the states of Pernambuco, Ceara and Bahia in northeastern Brazil.

Mr. Kano is the Chief Executive Officer and President of Tecon Suape, a container terminal in Suape, which is a subsidiary of the Philippines´ International Container Terminal Services Inc. In such capacity, he has had direct dealings with the Philippines. Mr. Kano is looking at his first Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) task with the arrival last week of 18 Filipino workers at the Suape Shipyard.

The official opening was attended by government officials, including federal Senator Marco Maciel, Ambassador Isnard Penha Brasil, head of the Regional Office of the Ministry of External Relations in the Northeast; other state and municipal officials; members of the consular corps in Recife; and businessmen.

Speaking at the official opening ceremony, Philippine Ambassador to Brazil Teresita Barsana said that the opening of the Philippine Honorary Consulate General in Recife was a concrete step in the commitment of the Presidents of Brazil and the Philippines during the state visit of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to Brazil last June, to strengthen relations between the two countries. The inauguration by President Arroyo of the expanded container terminal of Tecon Suape during her visit was a manifestation of the continuing interest of the Philippines to further develop its relations especially with the state of Pernambuco and an appreciation of the important role Pernambuco plays in the development of Brazil.

The Philippine Honorary Consulate General in Recife, under the supervision of the Philippine Embassy in Brasilia, is expected to promote cooperative endeavors and look after the welfare of Filipino nationals within the consular jurisdiction, among others.

The Philippine Honorary Consulate General is located at Rua Ribeiro de Brito 830-A, Salas 1805/1806 Empresarial Iberbras, Boa Viagem, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. END

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Lea Salonga performs at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok

Posted: 23 Sep 2009 10:30 PM PDT

PR-750-09, 24 September 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Lea Salonga made her return performance to Bangkok a resounding success in a show entitled, “The Magic of Disney and Broadway musicals” on 12 September 2009 at the Queen Sirikit Convention in Bangkok, Thailand. The concert was organized by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra Foundation, in cooperation with B.. Grimm and Co., Credit Suisse and the Philippine Embassy.

Ms. Salonga’s repertoire ranged from songs of famous Disney movies to hits from Broadway musicals, including Miss Saigon. Although she was confined in the hospital the night before due to respiratory illness, the 38-year old Filipina superstar still captivated her audience with her voice and stage presence.

The much-applauded concert was also a tribute to the big number of Filipinos who came over to support her. Also seen among the audiences were members of the Diplomatic Corps and the Thai cabinet, musical artists, film stars, and other host government officials.

The concert was an impressive follow-up to her performance last year in the Bangkok leg of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella event, which included a swing of Asian cities.

Mrs. Janette Rodriguez presented a bouquet of flowers to the Broadway star, who was hailed by Ambassador Antonio V. Rodriguez as “the Philippines’ greatest contribution in the field of musical theater.” END

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Pilar,Sorsogon – DBP-MLC links Bicol Region through moving bridges

DBP-MLC links Bicol Region through moving bridges
Philippine Information Agency
Among the Bicol linkages that the DMLC has identified and prioritized for the RoRo missionary routes are: Pilar, Sorsogon to Aroroy, Masbate with a distance

Filed under: Sorsogon News Updates

CHIZ: NO ONE HAS MONOPOLY ON GOOD INTENTIONS / NOYNOY READY TO DEBATE

CHIZ: NO ONE HAS MONOPOLY ON GOOD INTENTIONS / NOYNOY READY TO DEBATE

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 23, 2009 (STAR) By Christina Mendez – Sen. Francis Escudero, a potential standard bearer of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), said yesterday nobody has “a monopoly on good intentions for our country” as the rival Liberal Party (LP) fielded its top candidates on the platform of good governance and change.

“Nobody can say we are good and all the rest are not good enough. The next government should be inclusive not exclusive,” he said.

“It should embrace every Filipino and exert every effort to tear down the walls of division that have kept our nation from moving forward to greater heights,” he added.

Escudero also said that with the LP’s announcement of Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Manuel Roxas II as its candidates for president and vice president in 2010, opposition unity “now appears impossible.”

“The LP has declared it would push its own candidates without consulting beforehand with any of the other opposition groups,” he said. “It was a decision made among, and between, members of the LP.”

But he also said, “I respect and accept the decision of the Liberal Party in fielding its own candidates for the 2010 elections.”

The NPC has yet to decide who between Escudero and Sen. Loren Legarda will be its standard bearer for next year’s elections.

Legarda has expressed hope that the upcoming elections would be a friendly competition among the candidates.

At the Club Filipino yesterday, Roxas formally accepted Aquino’s offer to be his vice presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Liberal rift

A breakaway faction of the LP represented by Environment Secretary Lito Atienza said there is no need for its members to reapply with LP since their “expulsion” is still being questioned before the Supreme Court.

Eli Quinto, secretary general of Atienza’s LP wing and founder of Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas (KALIPI), said “the small group of former Senator Franklin Drilon within the LP” must be enlightened and made to correct “the lies they have been believing and peddling to the public.”

“Let me just remind you that the expulsion of LP leaders made by your minuscule faction on the eve of our supposed election on Nov. 27, 2007 is still being questioned before the SC,” Quinto said, apparently referring to Drilon and “his gang who have formed the habit of misrepresenting the party to pursue their personal, and not the Liberals’ interests.”

“There is no need for anybody to reapply for LP membership. We are confident that the SC will declare the expulsion done by Drilon’s gang illegal,” he said.

“The LP is not Drilon and his gang. They only represent a mere small group within the party who continuously avoid holding a democratic election to evade an inevitable defeat,” he pointed out.

According to Quinto, the majority of LP is “still solidly” under the leadership of Atienza, who, he claimed, just brought Drilon into the party.

He recalled that the latest LP split began in 2005 when Drilon, then LP president, “used and dragged the party’s name in joining moves to topple the present government without consulting the Liberals which blatantly violated the LP constitution. ”

He said Atienza, then party chairman and Manila mayor, together with the LP majority, immediately denied the “machinated treachery” and bared the truth on the “foiled tyrannical plan of Drilon’s gang.”

Since then, Quinto said, “Drilon and his gang had been misinforming the people and distorting the issues by insisting authority over the LP to justify their violation of the party Constitution. ”

Earlier, Atienza said an SC ruling only indicated that Drilon, being the holdover party president, must call for a national convention to hold an election in accordance with the LP’s Salonga Constitution.

However, instead of following the SC ruling, Atienza said Drilon and his group expelled him and other LP stalwarts on the eve of the supposed election, thus “crowning” Roxas as the next party president.

“The only way to solve the problems in the LP and ensure victory is to have party leaders elected through an open national convention,” Quinto reiterated.

“From there, we can then choose the party’s standard bearer. This is the most democratic process that must be followed according to the LP’s basic principles,” he said.

“Up to now, this has not been followed, effecting a weaker chance for the LP to win the presidency due to a disunited party,” he added.

Over the weekend, LP spokesman Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada said Atienza has to reapply for party membership if he wants to run for Manila mayor under the LP.

Tañada said the party considered Atienza resigned as a member when he and other supporters tried to wrest the party’s leadership from then LP president Franklin Drilon.

“He has to apply for membership again, and the party will study it,” he said in reaction to Atienza’s statement that he still considers himself a party member.

Atienza was unavailable for comment.

Endorsements

Meanwhile, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco de Leon voiced support for the Aquino-Roxas tandem, citing their good family backgrounds.

“These men came from good families and we know their parents to be good politicians, whose names are not tainted by any corruption, especially Senator Aquino who does not want to ruin the reputation of his mother and the legacy left behind by his father,” said De Leon in an interview over the Church-run Radio Veritas.

“We know that our country would be safe from irregularities and I also know that he (Senator Noynoy Aquino) would do his best to lead the country.”

“What is clear is that the country needs leaders with good and clean track records so they could attract investors, unlike other politicians nowadays,” he added.

But he stressed that in order to get the nod of the Catholic Church as an institution, Aquino has to withdraw his support for the Reproductive Health Bill and that he should promote the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).

“He should side with the poor, just like the Church sides with poor,” he added.

For his part, CBCP treasurer and Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco said, “What is more important to me is the true intentions of Senator Aquino and Senator Roxas. They should make sure that they would serve as good examples of change. They should change society by being loyal and transparent to the Filipino people.” – With Aurea Calica, Evelyn Macairan, Katherine Andraneda

Palace to Noynoy: Face off with Gibo By Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) Updated September 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang called yesterday on Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. and Sen. Benigno Aquino III to face off in a debate to show their mettle to the voters.

Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser on political affairs, said the debate would help voters decide whether the Lakas-Kampi- CMD and Liberal Party presidential aspirants have the courage, spirit and strength of character to govern the nation.

“With Noynoy and Gibo among the main protagonists in the presidential polls next year, the country will have a real chance to participate in an election based not on showbiz, popularity and logistics but on issues and principles,” he said.

Claudio, who is also Lakas-Kampi- CMD secretary general, said other aspirants must also take part in the debates to allow voters to evaluate their worth on the basis of their ability to inspire, lead and educate.

As a result, the voters would hear the stand of aspirant on various issues and help them decide who would best serve their interests, he added.

Claudio said aspirants who refuse to participate in the debates would give the impression that they lack substance or are unable to articulate their views.

“Issues about the economy, accountable governance, foreign policy, peace and unity and national security, among other substantive issues, have to be exhaustively and unabashedly debated,” he said.

“This will be consistent with the common advocacy for clean, honest, credible and issues-driven elections.”

Meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez welcomed yesterday the tandem of Aquino and Sen. Manuel Roxas II for next year’s presidential elections.

Alvarez proposes ‘unscripted’ questions

Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez suggested an unscripted question-and- answer format among candidates that would allow the public to know more about the candidates’ program for the country.

“If there is fighting in Mindanao, shouldn’t candidates be talking about how to end this war instead of how to fix their wardrobe?” he asked.

The proposed debates are like the presidential primaries in the United States, Alvarez said.

Over the weekend, Teodoro said there would be no mudslinging between him and his cousin Aquino during the election campaign.

He said politics and the election campaign would not destroy his good friendship and blood relations with Aquino.

The two presidential aspirants are both Cojuangcos on their mothers’ side.

Teodoro is a nephew of billionaire businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., estranged cousin of the late President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, Noynoy’s mother.

Teodoro admitted that their families belonged to the opposite sides of the political fence.

“But that was before. Noynoy and I, though we are cousins, didn’t know each other much. But we became close friends when we were elected to the House of Representatives, ” he said.

The two are both former three-term Tarlac congressmen.

Teodoro to push Cha-cha

Teodoro intends to push for Charter change (Cha-cha) through a constitutional convention (con-con) if he is elected president.

In an interview over the weekend, Teodoro, Lakas-Kampi standard-bearer, told The STAR that he would like to keep the presidential system but with a unicameral Congress.

“There is too much check-and-balance and gridlock in a two-chamber Congress. There is no synergy,” he said.

Responding to questions, he said his envisioned one-chamber legislature would be composed of members elected from congressional districts, much like the present House of Representatives.

He said if incumbent members of the Senate would like to sit in the unicameral Congress, they would have to run in the districts.

Teodoro, a former three-term Tarlac congressman, revealed that if he is elected president, he would immediately propose to the incoming Congress the convening of a con-con to rewrite the Constitution.

He said he prefers a con-con because there would be less suspicion of self-interest on the part of its members than if the body to revise the Charter would be Congress itself sitting as a constituent assembly (con-ass).

“A con-con would be a capital investment for the country’s future,” he said.

Asked what other constitutional changes he is advocating, the defense chief said he would lift the restriction on foreign ownership of land..

“We should allow foreigners to own lands for commercial, industrial and tourism development purposes,” he said.

“They should also be allowed to own residential lands, but I would like to have a threshold amount, say P20 million, so that low-cost housing would be protected.”

Teodoro’s proposal on foreign ownership of land is much like Speaker Prospero Nograles’ Resolution 737, which seeks to amend Sections 2 and 3 of Article Xll of the Constitution to lift the foreign ownership restriction.

The House committee on constitutional amendments had endorsed plenary approval of the Nograles-proposed amendments, but these were overtaken by the much faster Resolution 1109, which proposes to convene “members of Congress” as a con-ass to propose Charter revisions.

Before Congress ended its second regular session in June, the House approved Resolution 1109 in plenary and sat on the Nograles-recommende d amendments.

According to some lawmakers, marching orders for the adoption of the con-ass resolution came from President Arroyo, who gave them to Nograles and other allies after she declared the merger of Lakas and Kampi at the Manila Hotel on May 28.

One source told reporters that the President wanted the Senate bypassed on Cha-cha.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte, former president of Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino), is the author of Resolution 1109. But it was Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and presidential son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo who led the solicitation of House members’ signatures on the resolution.

Romualdez is one of President Arroyo’s favorite companions in her travels abroad. According to Palace officials, he paid $20,000 for the controversial New York City dinner Mrs. Arroyo and her entourage enjoyed during her last visit to the United States.

Nograles and his colleagues are no longer talking about Resolutions 737 and 1109.

The Cha-cha campaign in the House is now dead, according to many lawmakers.

Aspirants urged to bare plans on population

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone has urged all presidential aspirants to bare their plans on how to handle the country’s population growth, as well as their position on the Reproductive Health Bill.

Speaking at a recent forum, Evardone urged reproductive health advocates to invite all the presidential aspirants for a reproductive health debate..

The next president must have an aggressive program on reproductive health to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality rates, he added.

Eastern Samar is one of the provinces with high maternal and neonatal deaths, according to United Nations agencies.

The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. has called on presidential aspirants to make “their positions (on the reproductive health issue) very clear.”

House Bill 5043, The Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood, and Population Development Bill, makes artificial contraceptives more accessible to the public through health programs and calls for sex education in schools.

“Access to contraceptives will make a difference, ” said Australian Agency for International Development minister counselor Titon Mitra. – With Jess Diaz, Helen Flores

Noynoy ready to debate with Gibo By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated September 23, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Benigno Aquino III is ready to engage other presidential aspirants in a debate, including his cousin, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr.

Meanhile, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile warned Aquino against supporters who were the same people behind the ouster of President Joseph Estrada and a plot to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

Aquino said he would like to join the presidential debates proposed by presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio so the elections would focus on issues rather than personalities.

“I’m okay with that,” Aquino said.

Aquino said it would also be good to have a debate with Claudio, even if he is not running for office.

“We will come to that,” he said.

“But maybe it’s better if we will do that after the filing (of certificates of candidacy) so we would not have to debate with those who would not really be in the scene.”

Speaking in defense of Estrada against the allegations of Sen. Panfilo Lacson at the Senate, Enrile said he could see the same people who were involved in Edsa 2 that toppled Estrada in 2001 in the inner circle of Aquino.

“Today, I see these same faces parading themselves as leaders and supporters of the candidacy of my dear colleague (Aquino),” he said.

Enrile said these were the same people who asked Estrada to support them when they wanted to oust President Arroyo.

“Evidently, they have no more use for Erap,” he said.

The leaders of the so-called civil society also asked him for help in their protest actions against the Aquino administration, Enrile said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he would like to watch Aquino and Teodoro engage in debate.

“We will know all these things once debates are held in time,” he said.

“We want major news networks and print (media) to come out with a nationwide debate so we will find out the best among the candidates who deserve our votes.”

Aquino supporters

Supporters are shelling out change for the presidential candidacy of Aquino.

Residents of Lupang Pangako in Payatas, Quezon City each gave a P1 coin for Aquino, who they believe will bring about the change they have always wanted.

Ed Roces, Noynoy Aquino for President Movement spokesman, said it was the local leaders in Payatas who approached their group about their intention of supporting Aquino’s presidential bid.

“They said they would support by giving money and we were so touched,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of the “Piso at Puso sa Pagbabago,” Roces said around 200 residents dropped a P1 coin into cans that would be delivered to Aquino’s residence on Times Street in Quezon City on Nov. 27.

“These people are sharing money for the campaign instead of the other way around. This is a revolution of the masses,” he said.

“This is the real change, very unusual thing.”

Roces said the residents of Payatas are investing in Aquino.

“That’s a different thing because the peso here is very significant, ” he said.

They would be replicating the movement in other areas of the country, particularly in President Arroyo’s bailiwick in Pampanga, Roces said. – With Reinir Padua

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2009 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved

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Department of Foreign Affairs-updates

RP-US MDT and VFA Remain Vital to National Interest

Posted: 23 Sep 2009 03:53 AM PDT

PR-749-09, 23 September 2009—The DFA firmly believes that the RP-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty and the VFA remain important, useful and relevant, not only for Philippine national interest but also for regional peace, security and prosperity.

Benefits from the VFA have been substantial, most especially in the following areas:

• Modernization of the AFP. Ongoing assistance in this area remains critical considering that as a percentage of GDP, Philippine military expenditure is second to the lowest in Southeast Asia. The VFA permits the AFP to access new defense technologies, systems, equipment, best practices, and information that can be adapted to Philippine requirements. From 1999-2009, U.S. military and defense assistance amounted to US$429 million or on average PhP2 billion annually.

• Counter-terrorism and other non-traditional security threats. The Philippines has made positive contributions to global counter-terrorism efforts. The capture and neutralization of Abu Sayyaf Group leaders and members have been due in part to cooperation with the U.S.

• Civil-military and humanitarian action. The VFA directly benefits the Filipino people through civic and humanitarian projects involving medical services and the building of infrastructure, such as schools, wells, roads and bridges, in remote, conflict-affected and poor areas in the country. Disaster relief and other forms of assistance have also been extended by U.S. troops. Local communities have come out in support of the VFA.

• Paradigm for durable peace in Mindanao. U.S. support strengthens the Philippines strategy of using soft and hard power to build long-term peace and development in Mindanao.

The Philippines’ relationship with the United States in general, and its defense and security cooperation in particular, constitute a strategic partnership that is long-standing and mutually beneficial. With no other country does the Philippines have such deep and diversified ties.

Being the oldest democracy in Asia, the Philippines is proud of its independence and of the political and economic progress the country has achieved. As with anything hard-fought, the Department of Foreign Affairs is ever mindful that continued vigilance is required to protect the sovereignty, the freedom and the democracy we now enjoy.

The Department of Foreign Affairs respects the views of the Senate and will consider the comments and concerns they have expressed on the Visiting Forces
Agreement.

It is in response to the concerns raised that the Presidential Commission on the VFA (VFACOM), which is co-chaired by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of National Defense, will initiate a review of the VFA.

The VFACOM shall present in due time appropriate recommendations based on the results of the review. END

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UNDOF Commander Gen. Wolfgang Jilke calls on RP Embassy in Tel Aviv

Posted: 23 Sep 2009 03:11 AM PDT

PH-158-09,23 September 2009 – The Commander of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), Major General Wolfgang Jilke, called on Ambassador Petronila P. Garcia with other Embassy officials to discuss the preparations for the ongoing changeover of the Polish to Philippine peacekeeping contingent in the Golan Heights on October 22.

General Jilke personally delivered invitations to the ceremony to the embassy officials and Armed Forces of the Philippines. The ceremony will be held at Camp Ziouani on the Israeli side.

During the call, he stressed his policy of openness and transparency under his command of the UNDOF. He added that member nations are welcome to visit their respective forces at any time. He said that maintaining this policy adds up to the morale of the contingent in the Golan Heights.

The UNDOF was established through UN Security Council Resolution 350 (1974) and has served in the Golan Heights, the contentious border between Israel and Syria. END

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Statement of Secretary Alberto G. Romulo

Posted: 23 Sep 2009 01:02 AM PDT

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RP Embassy in Manama commemorates International Day of Democracy

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 10:45 PM PDT

PH-157-09,23 September 2009 – Pursuant to Proclamation 1620 and in support of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 62/7, the Philippine Embassy in Manama and members of the Filipino community commemorated the International Day of Democracy on September 15.

Representatives from the academe, religious organizations, youth and professional groups attended the event and shared their view on the topic “Ano ang Kahulugan at Kahalagahan ng Demokrasya Para sa Akin.” A choral rendition by Philippine Embassy personnel was also held during the program.

Ambassador Ma. Corazon Yap-Bahjin to Manama headed the celebration. END

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Consul General Cardenas opens Trade and Investment Workshop in Honolulu

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 10:18 PM PDT

PH-156-09, 23 September 2009 – The Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Consul General Leoncio R. Cardenas delivered the keynote address on “Doing Business in the Philippines,” a workshop organized by the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii on 19 September 2009.

Panelists at the workshop included Harold nd Rochele Macarthur on consultancy, Greg Yamanaka on renewable resources and ethanol production, Nelda Zulueta on outsourcing and Archie Gomez, DTI Trade Representative – LA on Philippine Trade and Investment. Honolulu County and City Mayor Muffi Hannemann delivered the closing remarks.

The workshop is geared to prepare and encourage participation to the 21st Trade Mission to the Philippines scheduled to be held from 6 to 21 November 2009.

The Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has been conducting successful trade missions to the Philippines since 1989 and promoting two-way trade and investment between the Philippines and the State of Hawaii. END

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Philippine Bridges Featured in Singapore Stamps

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 06:15 PM PDT

PR-748-09, 23 September 2009 – The Singapore Postal Office, in collaboration with the Philippine Postal Corporation (Philpost), launched four limited edition postal stamps in Singapore this month which featured Philippine bridges.

The commemorative stamps were launched in commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Philippines and Singapore.

The bridge theme for the commemorative stamps was chosen because the bridges connects both countries symbolically, and is a popular theme amongst stamp collectors.

The Singapore Philatelic Museum worked closely with Philpost in implementing the project, which took almost a year to complete.

One of the two bridges featured is the Bamban Bridge in Pampanga, which links Mabalacat to Tarlac. Destroyed by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991, the Bamban Bridge was rebuilt in 1998 and is one of the longest bridges in the world.

The second bridge featured is the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu City which connects Cebu and Mactan Islands. Opened in 1991, the bridge is named after the late Chief Justice and Senator Marcelo Fernan.

Two other stamps featuring Singapore bridges complete the commemorative issue. They depict the Henderson Waves Bridge and the Cavenagh Bridge.

The commemorative stamps can be ordered at SingPost’s online shopping portal vPost, at http://shop.vpost.com.sg.

The Singapore Philatec Museum is also preparing for a Philippine-themed stamp exhibit in October titled “Bayanihan: Spirit of the Philippines.” END

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DFA warns OFWs Against Text Scams in Austria

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 06:00 PM PDT

PR-747-09, 23 September 2009 – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is warning the Filipino public against a text scam circulating in Austria and other countries.

The DFA discourages overseas Filipino workers from responding to messages claiming they had won a large amount of money in an electronic lottery or raffle.

The DFA learned that those who responded to the message were asked to transmit money as a requirement prior to receiving their so-called prizes. The money will be used supposedly to pay for taxes or remittance charges, or as donation.

The Philippine Embassy in Vienna reported that these scammers use public institutions such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as well as the names of known public officials like the BSP Governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Sixto Esquivias, in order to lure unsuspecting victims.

A lady victim narrated to the Philippine Embassy how she had paid a fee of €4,000 (P 258,809.00) for the release of her prize, which was supposed to be settled through a remittance center (Western Union) to certain “Jerry Rivas Vidal” which turned out to be a fictitious identity. The scammers even asked for an additional P38,900 as donation as soon as the transfer has been made.

The DFA strongly advises Filipinos to be cautious of these malicious schemes and to not respond to such text messages to avoid becoming victims of these scams.

These scams are reported to the National Bureau of Investigation and National Telecommunication Commission for Investigation. END

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Peace Day Celebration in Chicago

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 05:45 PM PDT

PR-746-09, 23 September 2009 – The Philippine Consulate General in participated in the 31st Anniversary of Peace Day Celebration at the Daley Center Plaza on September 18.

Governor Pat Quinn and Mayor Richard Daley proclaimed September 7-21 Peace Days in the State of Illinois and in the City of Chicago honoring the original Peace Day as well as the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Peace Day has been observed annually since 7 September 1978. Its purpose is to bring focus and energy to aspects of peace building.

Cultural Officer Berth D. Salvador joined the members of the Chicago Consular Corps in special World Peace Flag Ceremony and the Call to Peace with each nation’s flag presented on stage while the prayer for peace is said for that country. Each flag-bearer carried one of the flags of the U.N. member countries. The Earth Flag concluded the ceremony to symbolize the unity of all humanity.

Every year, Peace Day has included One Minute of Silence for World Peace as well as musical performances. The Peace School, a non-profit organization, organizes the annual event in cooperation with the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events. END

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Call of Spanish Candidate for Ms. Earth 2009 on Philippine Ambassador Ugarte

Posted: 22 Sep 2009 05:30 PM PDT

PR-745-09, 23 September 2009 – Philippine Ambassador to Spain Ana I. de Sequera-Ugarte reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Ms. Alejandra Echevarría Pedrajas, the Spanish candidate for Ms. Earth 2009, paid a courtesy call on her at the Philippine Embassy in Madrid and at the same time applied for a Philippine visa.

Ms. Echevarría, a native of Jaen, Spain, will travel to the Philippines and participate in the 9th edition of the Ms. Earth beauty pageant which is scheduled to be held on November 22 at the Boracay Ecovillage Resort and Convention Center.

Said pageant is produced by Carousel Productions Inc. and was first launched in 2001 with the objective of becoming a beauty event whose raison d’etre is to have its candidates and winners actively promote and get involved in the preservation of the environment and the protection of Mother Earth.

Apart from a strong emphasis on environmental protection programs, Miss Earth also aims to showcase and promote various tourist destinations. Every year, 80 to 90 candidates from all over the world compete in said pageant. The winner of Miss Earth will serve as the Ambassador to environmental protection campaigns worldwide. END

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