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Department of Foreign Affairs-updates

Reports from Philippine Embassies and Consulates (As of 8 October 2009)

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 02:33 AM PDT

PHILIPPINE POST UPDATES ON INLFUENZA A(H1N1) VIRUS

(AS OF 08 October 2009)

Kuala Lumpur PE
  • Post reported that 65 cases of A(H1N1) patients had been discharged from the hospitals, 177 patients have been confirmed and 26 of them are being treated at intensive care units.
  • There are no reported cases of Filipinos being infected by the virus.
Budapest PE
  • Post reported that no Filipino contracted the virus. In Hungary, there are 205 cases of A(H1N1) and 2 deaths.
Ottawa
  • Post reported that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Canada conducted the “Information Session on Canada’s Ongoing Preparedness for the H1N1 Flu Virus Pandemic” on 01 October 2009.
  • The session provided the participants of Canada’s planning guides in response to the pandemic and information on the availability of vaccine and antivirals to foreign nationals in Canada.
Oslo PE
  • Post has not received any report that a Filipino has been infected with the A(H1N1) virus. It will continue to monitor the developments under its jurisdiction.
Riyadh PE
  • A Circular was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia requesting International and Domestic HAJJ Missions to create medical teams that will provide medical care to their pilgrims for any untimely event and to promote precautionary measures and to be informed of the functions of the health care system of the country.
Hong Kong PCG
  • Post reported that the Centre for Health Protection of the Hong Kong Department of Health recently adopted a new series of surveillance indicators for H1N1.

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Ambassador Mercedes Arrastia- Tuason Presents Her Credentials to Pope Benedict XVI

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 02:26 AM PDT

PR-821-09, 8 October 2009 – The Philippine Embassy at the Vatican reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason presented her credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on 2 October, during solemn ceremonies at the Papa I Residence in Castelgandolfo. She was accompanied by her family and Philippine Embassy personnel.

During her meeting with the Holy Father, the Ambassador conveyed the greetings of President Arroyo and the love of the Filipino people. She highlighted the gift of faith of the Filipinos, a gift which gave them the resilience to live with joy and hope in the midst of difficulties.

Ambassador Tuason expressed to the Holy Father her commitment to deepen the bilateral ties between the Philippines and the Holy See, particularly expressing the desire to strengthen collaboration on the area of interreligious dialogue and cooperation. Along this line, she expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for his special concern for peace in Mindanao and briefed him on the momentum gained in the peace process.

The Ambassador – who is a fervent “pro-life” advocate – gave emphasis to one value that strongly binds the Philippines and the Holy See: the respect and reverence for life.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his address, asked the Ambassador to convey to President Arroyo and “to all the beloved Filipino people” the assurance of his “spiritual closeness and prayers, especially for the victims of typhoon Ketsana.”

As he pointed to the “excellent diplomatic relations” between the Philippines and the Holy See, the Holy Father expressed the hope that the “spirit of goodwill … will enkindle a fresh desire to work together so that justice and freedom go hand-in-hand, and that democratic principles be grounded in truth.”

The Holy Father noted the various development initiatives in the Philippines and expressed confidence that our country “will draw upon all her resources – spiritual as well as material- so that her citizens may flourish in body and soul.” He further stated that “the struggle against poverty calls far honesty, integrity, and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those directly entrusted with the offices of governance and public administration.”

In commending the steps being taken in the Philippines to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding, the Holy Father stated that the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation far Peace and Development which the country will host in December “holds out the promise of advancing peace in Mindanao and throughout the world.”

After her presentation to the Holy Father at Castelgandolfo, the Ambassador and her entourage proceeded to Vatican City to meet with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. Then she visited the St. Peter’s Basilica, where she prayed in the chapels of the Blessed Sacrament and of the image of the Blessed Virgin, and before the tomb of St. Peter. END

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Livelihood Program Launched for OFWs in Brunei Darussalam

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 02:21 AM PDT

PR-820-09, 8 October 2009 – The Department of Foreign Affairs received a report from Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Alexander B. Yano that the Philippine Embassy recently launched a series of Livelihood Program for OFWs, notably “Sushi and Salad Making” aimed at providing skills to OFWs that would enable them to prepare/cook for their families or even venture into food business like “sushi”.

This program was initiated by the Welfare Section of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office of the Philippine Embassy, and funded by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

Ms. Anna Rhodora Sta. Maria Quiambao acted as the resource person during this training where a total 37 participants registered, which included professional teachers, architect, business managers, construction workers, kitchen and household workers, among others, Welfare Officer Zenaida Ramos reported. The course methodologies adopted were basic lecture on how to make sushi and salad, video presentation and hands-on sushi making, Ramos added.

Likewise, the module on “Financial Literacy toward Starting a Business” was presented by Labor Attaché Elizabeth O. Recio aimed at imparting some basic theories, tools and techniques in managing the income of OFWs, promoting savings toward financial independence for setting up a business like restaurant/food business.

This activity is in support to the Philippine Government’s Reintegration program for OFWs, Ambassador Yano cited. END

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57 Children Complete RP Embassy’s Language and Cultural Enrichment Program in Brunei

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 02:13 AM PDT

PR-819-09, 8 October 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Brunei Darussalam reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that a total of 57 children completed a two-week Filipino language and cultural enrichment program offered by the Embassy during the school holidays.

The culmination of the program was the graduation ceremony held at the Embassy last September 25.

A total of 22 junior class students and 35 senior class students enrolled in the program, which the Embassy had launched in September 2008.

In his speech, Ambassador Alexander B. Yano thanked the 14 Filipino volunteer teachers for contributing their talents, time, and energy in ensuring the success of the program. He also thanked the parents for entrusting the children to the Embassy’s care, and urged them to continue Embassy’s work by ensuring that their children grow up with an awareness of the Filipino language, history, and cultural heritage.

Speaking on behalf of the parents, Ms. Carolyn Cruz revealed that their children showed a noticeable improvement in their use of the Filipino language, which she attributed to the Embassy’s program.

She also lauded several of the program’s activities intended to enhance their children’s knowledge of the country’s rich historical and cultural heritage such as:

 A story-telling session on popular Filipino myths and stories such as Ibong Adarna and Juan Tamad;
 Kite flying and Filipino outdoor games held at the Bukit Shahbandar Forest Recreational Park;
 Baking pan de sal as a hands-on activity
 A session on ASEAN and its member-countries, with resource persons from the various ASEAN Embassies/High Commissions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports; and
 An inter-faith/inter-religion dialogue with representatives from the Catholic, born-again Christian, and Islamic faiths.

She expressed optimism that the program will soon be an official course and be an accredited subject by the DECS in the Philippines.

The highlight of the program was a drama presentation by the students, inspired by “Maalaala Mo Kaya” TV show. The presentation featured Philippine folk dances, a medley of Filipino folk songs, and Filipino values and traditions in a globalized world.

In her closing remarks, Minister and Consul Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat reiterated her appreciation for the Embassy personnel, volunteer teachers, parents, resource speakers, media partners, students, and sponsors for their support. She urged members of the Filipino community to continue partnering more closely with the Embassy, particularly by volunteering as teachers in next year’s program. END

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St. John Ambulance Malaysia Donated 52,500 Water Purification Tablets for Typhoon Victims

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 01:55 AM PDT

PR-818-09, 08 October 2009 – Dato’ Dr. Low bin Tick (4th from left), Commander-in-Chief of St. John Ambulance, presents to Ambassador Victoriano M. Lecaros (4th from left) 52,500 pieces of water purification tablets for the victims of typhoon “Ondoy” at a ceremony held at the Embassy on 06 October 2009. The donated tablets which costs RM20,000 (approximately US$5,800) can provide safe drinking water to about 50,000 families for a week.

Ambassador Lecaros, on behalf of the Philippine Government, expressed his appreciation to the officers of St. John Ambulance Malaysia and told Dato’ Dr. Low that the donated items will be sent to the Department of Health for distribution to affected families.

Established in 1908, St. John Ambulance Malaysia is a humanitarian organization rendering first aid and home. It is an affiliate of the centuries-old medical service organization St. John Hospitallers in the United Kingdom. It also provides community service such as haemodialysis centers and a 24-hr emergency service.

Witnessing the donation ceremony were Mr. Hoh Hee Ooi (third from left), Honorary Treasurer, and other volunteers of St. John Ambulance Malaysia. END

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Executive Secretary Ermita Signs RP-EU Justice Support Programme

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 01:43 AM PDT

PR-817-09, 8 October 2009 – The RP-EU Justice Support Programme, commonly known as the EPJUST was signed today by Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita for the Philippine side and, on behalf of the European Union, EC Ambassador Alistair McDonald.

Present to witness the signing were Philippine Ambassador to the European Commission Cristina Ortega, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Anthony Golez, Spanish Ambassador Luis Arias Romero (representing the Presidency of the European Union), and Mr. James Moran, Director for Asia in the Directorate-General of External Relations, European Commission, Brussels.

In his opening remarks, Executive Secretary Ermita stated that the EPJUST will not only “support the Government’s ongoing efforts in addressing the issue of extralegal killings but also provide the Government with long-term capabilities at addressing this phenomenon”. Likewise, Ambassador MacDonald stated that “the EU has been happy to respond positively to the Government’s request to provide technical assistance to help the Philippines address the question of extra-legal or extra-judicial killings”.

The EPJUST is a cooperative venture entered into by the Philippines with the European Union to improve functional mechanisms and cooperation on human rights matters. The program is a 30-month long program with an approved budget of 3.9 million Euros, under which the EU will provide technical assistance to the Philippines in the form of an EU expert team who shall provide advice on enhancing the capacity and effectiveness of the Philippine criminal justice system, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, and civil society organizations. The program also aims to strengthen the ability of the uniformed services to train their personnel in relevant international human rights standards.

A steering committee, which will meet every two months, will be established to review and guide the overall direction of the program’s work and to coordinate the activities of the agencies concerned. It will be chaired by a senior official of the Philippine government and will comprise of senior representatives of the judiciary, government agencies involved in the program’s work and the CHRP. The Head of Delegation of the European Commission in Manila and the Ambassador representing the EU Presidency in Manila together with the Team Leader will compose the EU side of the Steering Committee.

The implementation of the EPJUST is projected to begin in November 2009 and the program will be completed by March 2011. END..

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Symbolic Turn-Over of Brazilian Donation of US$70,000 for “Ondoy” Victims

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 01:33 AM PDT

PH-173-09, 8 October 2009 – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo acknowledges the Brazilian government’s donation of US$70,000 during a call by the Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Philippines, H.E. Ambassador Alcides Prates. Brazil responded to the UN Secretary-General’s call for international humanitarian aid for the victims of typhoon “Ondoy.”

The donation is being coursed through the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Country Director in the Philippines. The Brazilian Embassy in Manila is coordinating with these offices on the nature of assistance to be earmarked from the donation. END (photo by: Benjamin Remo, DFA-PISU)

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PCMB Donates US$5,000 to Victims of Typhoon Ondoy

Posted: 08 Oct 2009 01:15 AM PDT

PH-172-09, 8 October 2009 – Upon instructions from the Chairman of the Philippine Center Management Board (PCMB) and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa, the PCMB issued a resolution allocating the amount of US$5,000.00 as a corporate donation to the victims of Typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines.

Photo shows PCMB Business Manager Roberto de Lara handing the check donation for the National Disaster Coordinating Council of the Philippines (NDCC) to PCMB Vice Chairman and Consul General to San Francisco Marciano A. Paynor, Jr. Also in the photo are Deputy Consul General Wilfredo Santos, Consul Alfonso Ver, Police Attache Edwin Erni, PCMB Director and DOT Director Rene de los Santos, and Ms. Rosalie Say representing PCMB Director and DTI Commissioner Josephine Romero. END

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RP Embassy in Madrid Closely Monitoring Francisco Larranaga’s Detention in Spain

Posted: 07 Oct 2009 12:23 AM PDT

PR-816-09, 7 October 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Madrid reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) today the arrival in Madrid of prisoner Francisco Juan Larrañaga to serve the remainder of his life sentence there.

The Embassy reported that Larrañaga, who was turned over by NBI-Interpol agents to the custody of Spanish National Police-Interpol officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, arrived at the Madrid Barajas International Airport on October 6 at 11:34 p.m. (Madrid time) via Amsterdam.

Still under escort by Spanish Police officers, he was brought to the National Police station at the airport’s Terminal T4 and then taken to the Central Registry in Moratalaz, where his fingerprints and other data were taken.

Larrañaga was later transferred to the Centro Penitenciario Madrid 5 in Soto del Real, a maximum security prison, where he will continue to serve the sentence imposed by a Philippine court. Sotoreal is about 45 minutes away from the Spanish capital.

The Regional Trial Court of Cebu City convicted Larrañaga and others in 1999 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, and imposed on him the penalty of death. The Philippine Supreme Court later affirmed the sentence. With the abolition of the death penalty, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The DFA has instructed the Philippine Embassy to closely monitor Larrañaga’s imprisonment in Spain to ensure that the terms of the sentence imposed on him in the Philippines will be observed.

The Spanish government has assured the Philippine Government that there will be no conversion of the sentence imposed by the Philippine court on Larrañaga. It added that it is “bound by the terms of the judgment of conviction, and no justification whatsoever exists to revise the decision handed down by the Philippine judicial authorities.”

Larrañaga has family members in the Guipuzcoa and Catalonia areas in Spain.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has announced that it is working on the request of two Filipino prisoners in Spain, who have expressed desire to be transferred and repatriated to the Philippines under the Philippine-Spain Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA).

The TSPA provides the legal framework for the transfer of sentenced individuals, for humanitarian reasons, to their home countries in order to serve the remaining portion of their sentence. END

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Philippines Condemns Attack on WFP, Remembers Humanitarian Heroes

Posted: 06 Oct 2009 10:59 PM PDT

PR-815-09, 7 October 2009 – The Philippines condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack perpetuated against the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) agency and its employees last October 5 in Islamabad.

Together with the international and humanitarian communities, the Filipino nation extends its deepest sympathies to the people of Pakistan and to the families, friends and colleagues of the WFP workers who perished in the attack.

In particular, the Philippines recognizes the vital humanitarian role played by the WFP around the world, where its workers provide crucial assistance to people and communities in dire need.

The loss of such humanitarian heroes in a cowardly terrorist atrocity is incalculable, not just for Pakistan, but for all nations.

The Philippines, therefore, calls on all countries to express their collective outrage against this terror attack and to resolve to protect all humanitarian aid workers from similar assaults in the future. END

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