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Department of Foreign Affairs-23October2009-updates

Songs of Hope Charity Concert held in Beijing for Typhoon Victims

Posted: 23 Oct 2009 03:42 AM PDT

23 October 2009 – When there are songs, there is hope. Hope brought about by an outpouring of support from Beijing-based Filipino artists and musicians, who staged a three-hour concert to raise funds for typhoon victims in the Philippines.

In a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Cataumber Brady said that the Philippine Embassy in Beijing arranged the “Songs of Hope: Joining Hands for the Typhoon Victims in the Philippines” charity event on October 18 at Salsa Caribe music lounge in Beijing in partnership with the Filipino community.

“The aftermath of the devastating typhoons and floods has prompted us to organize the charity concert,” Ambassador Brady said, adding that the charity concert raised almost 60,000 renminbi (US$8,888). The proceeds will be donated to Gawad Kalinga and Caritas for their rehabilitation and reconstruction projects for the typhoon victims.

“We would like to thank the Chinese people, our friends in the international community in Beijing, and the Filipino community for their generosity in lending a hand for the typhoon victims in the Philippines,” Ambassador Brady said.

The Embassy organized the concert, which was attended by almost 500 people, in cooperation with the Couples for Christ Beijing and the Pinoy Overseas Photographers in Beijing, who donated some of their best photos of China for the charity event. Four Beijing-based Filipino bands and a husband-and-wife dancing team performed during the concert for free.

Before the performance, the audience stood in silent tribute to the victims of the typhoons.

Meanwhile, Filipino children, along with their foreign friends, sold their old toys, books and DVDs at an international fun and food fair held at Beijing’s South Cathedral on October 18 and raised 3,304 renminbi (US$485), which they added to the pool of donations raised that evening.

“I commend these children for this simple but wonderful gesture,” Ambassador Brady said. “Their donation will certainly go a long way for the typhoon victims.” END

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Malaysian King confers Military Award on AFP Chief General Victor Ibrado

Posted: 23 Oct 2009 03:37 AM PDT

23 October 2009 – His Majesty Al-Wathiqu Billah Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin ibni Sl-Marhum Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Bilah Shah, The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) XIII of Malaysia, conferred the Order of Gallantry and Military Service Award, or the Darjah Panglima Gagah Angakatan Tentera (Knight Grand Commander – Honorary), on General Victor Ibrado, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in ceremonies held at Istana Negara (National Palace) in Kuala Lumpur last October 21.

The award is one of the more prestigious decorations of the Royal Malaysian Armed Forces and is given to the highest ranking officers of the Malaysian Army and the Chiefs of the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Air Force. The award is also given to foreign generals, admirals and air mashalls.

The award is in recognition of General Ibrado’s meritorious service and contribution in promoting defense cooperation between the Philippines and Malaysia. In 2008, the Malaysian King also conferred the same award on General Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr.

Founded by King Abu Bakar Ri’syst ud-din Shah al-Mustain on 16 September 1983, the award is given in recognition of acts of heroism or exceptional services in the armed forces in five classes (1) Panglima Gagah (PGAT) or Knight Grand Commander; (2) Panglima Setia (PSAT) or Knight Commander; (3) Pahlawan (PAT) or Commander; (4) Ksatriya (KAT) or Officer; and (5) Bentara (BAT) or member. END

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Ambassador Buensuceso Presents Credentials to Queen Margrethe II of Denmark; Meets with Business Leaders and Filipino Community in Copenhagen

Posted: 23 Oct 2009 12:22 AM PDT

23 October 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Oslo, Norway reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that Ambassador Elizabeth P. Buensuceso presented her credentials to Her Majesty, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark at the historic Fredensborg Castle in Copenhagen on October 16.

Prior to presenting her credentials to the Queen, Ambassador Buensuceso was welcomed at the Royal Waiting Room of the Fredensbord Railway Station by Baron Iuel-Brockdorff, Master of the Royal Hunt, and taken to the Queen’s palace by a state coach accompanied by a horse-mounted royal cavalry. Together with the Lord Chamberlain, she reviewed the Royal Guards and the Hussars Regiment before proceeding to her audience with Queen Margrethe II.

During her audience, Ambassador Buensuceso discussed with the Queen the burgeoning economic relations between their two countries. Queen Margrethe II expressed her sympathies for the victims of the twin typhoons and sent her best wishes to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The presentation was followed by a vin d’honneur attended by more than 200 guests consisting of members of the diplomatic corps, business leaders and travel/tour operators and leaders of the Filipino community in Denmark.

While in Copenhagen, Ambassador Buensuceso also met with business leaders, government officials, and the officers and members of the Filipino community in Denmark to discuss issues of interest to the Philippines.

Among the many issues of bilateral concern, the matter on au pairs going to Denmark was given top priority, with the Danish Ministry of Refugees, Immigration and Integration pledging to study and respond to Ambassador Buensuceso’s proposals on the matter.

Ambassador Buensuceso also met with officials from the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group of Companies, one of the biggest, most respected names in the world in the area of container shipping and logistics, energy exploration and production, ship-building, retail and manufacturing.

In the course of their discussions, A.P. Moller-Maersk Director for Recruitment Leif Nielsen informed Ambassador Buensuceso that their company is extremely satisfied with the proficiency, skill and discipline of Filipino seafarers and that despite the global economic crisis, crewing of Filipino seamen has not slackened.

The company is poised to replace their Danish captains (around 100 in the immediate term), with Filipino skippers. They also plan to relocate their logistical operations in Singapore in 2010 making it easier for our workers to find employment and are planning to relocate their training centers for their worldwide logistics requirements in Manila.

Accompanied by two of Oslo PE’s consular staff, Ms. Annie Caraig and Ms. Rita Tan, Ambassador Buensuceso conducted a consular outreach at the St Anne’s church in Copenhagen during which they were able to issue 437 passports, 38 reports of marriage and births and answered various queries from their nationals residing in Denmark.

On Saturday and Sunday, 17 and 18 October, respectively, the Ambassador met with leaders of various Filipino organizations in Denmark to listen to their problems and suggestions and to plan future projects of the community. The leaders updated her on the various relief efforts being undertaken by their groups to help the victims of Ondoy and Pepeng. END

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Association of Spouses of Malaysian Cabinet Members Donates to Typhoon Victims

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 11:58 PM PDT

23 October 2009—Datin Paduka Seri Rosmah Mansor (right), wife of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and President of the Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-isteri (BAKTI) or the Welfare Body of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Vic Lecaros (left) walk through a virtual maze of boxes filled with food items and household linen from corporate and individual donors in Malaysia for victims of calamities in the Philippines and Indonesia, and of the conflict in Palestine.

Also in the photo are BAKTI members Datuk Noorhayati Kamaluddin (left) and Datin Masnah Muhamat (right), wife of Datuk Seri Utama Dr. Rais Yatim, former Foreign Minister and now Minister of Information, Communications, Culture and Arts.

The relief goods will soon be flown to the recipient countries aboard Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 heavy-lift transports. END

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RP Flag Flies Proudly Over Golan as Poland ends 35-Year Peacekeeping Presence

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 11:45 PM PDT

23 October 2009 – The Philippine flag was raised for the first time over the Golan Heights yesterday as Manila formally established its peacekeeping presence in this part of the Middle East, taking over from Poland which concluded its 35-year involvement with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

In ceremonies held in New York on October 22, Poland lowered its national colors while the Philippines raised its own to signal the formal assumption by the 1st Philippine Battalion of peacekeeping responsibilities in the southern sector of a United Nations-controlled zone that has kept Israeli and Syrian forces apart since the end of the Arab-Israeli War in 1974.

Lt. Col. Mariusz Jurek, commander of the Polish Battalion, also handed over to Lt. Col. Milfredo Melegrito, commanding officer of the Philippine Battalion, the symbolic key to Camp Ziouani in the ceremonies that were presided over by UNDOF Force Commander Maj. Gen. Wolfgang Jilke and attended by UNDOF officials as well as members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from Israel.

The Philippine Mission to the United Nations said there will be a total of 336 Filipino troops in the Golan Heights by the end of the month when Poland completes its withdrawal from UNDOF, which it has been a part of since it was established in 1974.

The Philippine Contingent will form part of the 1,023-strong UNDOF peacekeeping force that also includes troops from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India and Japan who have been tasked by the Security Council to maintain the ceasefire and supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and the so-called Areas of Separation and Limitation between the two parties.

Philippine Ambassador to Israel Petronila Garcia, who represented Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo and Defense Secretary Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. in the ceremonies, said that the deployment to the Golan Heights is the biggest and most challenging peacekeeping operation for Manila in almost a decade and is in line with the country’s obligations as a charter member of the United Nations.

“We also see our presence here in the Golan as our own little way of contributing to peace in the region,” Ambassador Garcia said. “As a friend to both Israel and Syria, it would be to the interest of the Philippines that peace reigns in all of the Middle East where many of our countrymen are based.”

Ambassador Garcia said that in making its decision to accept the UN invitation to deploy an infantry battalion to the Golan, Manila also took into account the fact that in the 35 years of UNDOF’s existence, the ceasefire and disengagement between Israel and Syria has been observed and not a single serious incident has shattered the peace in the area.

“For this, we are thankful not only for the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by UN peacekeepers but also for the excellent cooperation exhibited by both Israel and Syria,” she told her audience who included Maj. Gen. Carlos Holgaza, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; First Secretary Elmer Cato, Peacekeeping Officer of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York; Col. Gregory Cayetano, Commanding Officer of the AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center, and officers of the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Ambassador Garcia also paid tribute to Poland, saying that “the success story that is UNDOF would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of men and women of the various Polish contingents that have been at the forefront of the UN peacekeeping effort here during the past 35 years.”

“Poland’s contributions to the cause of peace will never be forgotten and the Philippine Contingent can be expected to continue and build on the good work Warsaw has started here in the Golan,” the lady envoy said. “Although the Philippines is a small country with limited means, it takes its responsibility in United Nations peacekeeping very seriously.”

“Like Poland, the Philippines is proud of its strong peacekeeping tradition that dates back to the 1960s when the Philippines first sent an Air Force squadron to support UN operations in the Congo,” she said, adding that Filipino peacekeepers have since served in Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Cote d’ Ivoire, Darfur, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Kashmir, Kosovo, Nepal, Sudan and Timor Leste.

When the rest of the Philippine Battalion arrives at the end of the month, Philippine presence in the Golan Heights will bring to almost 1,000 the total number of military and police personnel serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions. END

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U.S. Agri chief, American Businessmen Visiting Manila for Trade and Investment Mission

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 11:18 PM PDT

23 October 2009 – Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States’ Department of Agriculture (USDA) is arriving in Manila this weekend with top executives of 20 U.S. agribusiness companies for a four-day mission geared to further strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries in the areas of fisheries, biofuel, livestock, poultry and dairy production.

Highlighting the Philippine trip of the U.S. Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission are separate meetings of this top-level delegation with President Arroyo and Cabinet executives, led by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, along with officials of almost 200 local companies and of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Secretary Yap said the itinerary of the Vilsack-led mission includes a business forum at the Shangri-La Hotel in Makati City ; agricultural briefings, laboratory tours and a palay-harvesting activity at the IRRI headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna; a milk and biscuit distribution in a public elementary school as well as a tour of a private flour mill.

According to the USDA, this mission’s goal is “to promote trade and investment, particularly in the fisheries, biofuels, processed goods, beverages, meat and poultry, dairy products, agricultural machineries and equipment sectors.”

“Participating U.S. companies will have the opportunity to form partnerships and joint ventures with Philippine companies,” the USDA added in a report.

Manila-Washington trade in agricultural products went up by 23.22 percent to $971,676,804 last year from $787,931,812 in 2007 (based on BAS data).

The agribusiness companies represented in the U.S. mission are: Agri-Ima GIS Technology; American Trading Services, LLC; Cargill, Inc.; EcoVative Resources; Garuda International; Hima International; Intervision Foods; Kraft Foods; Land O’Lakes; Novick Industries Ltd.; The Alan Group; US Fed Group; Valmont Industries, Inc.; and Verdant Ocean, Inc.

On Sunday, Vilsack’s group will go to IRRI with US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney along with Secretary Yap and other Department of Agriculture (DA) officials among them Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano; Undersecretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat; Assistant Secretary Preceles Manzo; Director Ronilo Beronio of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice); and Marriz Agbon, president of the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation (PADCC).

The IRRI activities include presentations by Secretary Yap on the global rice stockpile station; by IRRI director-general Dr. Robert Ziegler on the institute’s agenda and goals; by Beronio on PhilRice activities; and by Gil Villancio, who is project leader of the Integrated R and D program on Jatropha curcas for biodiesel.

These presentations will be followed by tours of IRRI’s International Rice Genebank, GAMMA Laboratory and plant growth facilities, and capped by a palay -harvesting participated in by Ambassador Kenney, Secretary Vilsack, Dr. Zeigler, Dir Beronio and Secretary Yap.

Vilsack’s group and Ambassador Kenney will go to Malacañang on Monday, October 26, to meet with President Arroyo, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Secretary Yap, and other DA officials. They will then proceed to the Shangri-La Hotel for the business forum. END

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Sotero Lee Education Fund Established

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 11:13 PM PDT

23 October 2009 – Filipino-Chinese Businessman Sotero Lee turned over a ceremonial check in the amount of RMBY2 million to the Xiamen Education Foundation as the first tranche of the recently established Sotero Lee Education Fund.

The total fund will eventually reach RMBY10 million to be held in trust by the Xiamen Education Foundation.

In attendance during the simple ceremony held at the Xiamen Millennium Harbour View Hotel was Consul General Raul S. Hernandez and other representatives of Philcongen Xiamen, as well as local Xiamen officials, including the Chairman of the Xiamen Municipal People’s Political Consultative Conference Chen Xiumao, Vice Mayor of Xiamen City Zhan Cangzhou, and Chairman of the Xiamen Education Foundation Wang Rong.

Filipino-Chinese businessman Sotero Lee hands over a ceremonial check in the amount of RMBY2 million to Xiamen Education Fund Chairman Mr. Wang Rong.

Mr. Lee recently set up the Sotero Lee Education Fund that will handover a total of RMBY10 million to the Xiamen Education Foundation to be held in trust.

The Foundation will be able to use 20 percent of the trust fund’s interest earnings for its project that will benefit the Xiamen education sector. The other 80 percent of the fund’s profits will be managed by a group of nine people who will decide on which education-related projects would be benefited by the fund in various areas in southern Fujian including Quanzhou, Shishi and Mr. Lee’s hometown of Jinjiang. END

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OPEC Fund Approves US$30 Million Loan for Maintenance of 10 National Roads in RP

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 08:55 PM PDT

23 October 2009 – the Philippine Embassy in Vienna reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) approved last week a US$30-million loan for the Road Sector Institutional Development and Investment Program in the Philippines.

The overall objective of the program is to preserve and maintain 356 kilometers of 10 national roads located in the west coast of central Luzon, southwestern Visayas, and northern coast of Mindanao.

The program supports the Philippine Government’s efforts to rehabilitate and upgrade the country’s main transport corridor, which would then provide access to markets especially in isolated regions to alleviate poverty, enhance peace and order through transport and trade, strengthen national unity and promote tourism.

The program’s components include civil works, capacity development and program implementation support, for implementation in three years.

OFID is co-financing the program with the Asian Development Bank as the lead financing agency.

OFID is an intergovernmental development finance institution that seeks to promote cooperation between the member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other developing countries. It does this by mainly providing financial resources to assist the latter group of countries in their economic and social development. END

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ASEAN Human Rights Commission Launched, President Arroyo Appoints Ambassador Rosario Manalo to Represent RP

Posted: 22 Oct 2009 08:08 PM PDT

23 October 2009 – Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) launched today the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand.

A major initiative of the Philippines, the AICHR is the first regional human rights body in the Asia-Pacific.

The Philippines is a strong advocate of the establishment of a credible and effective regional mechanism on human rights. It consistently pushed for its creation to promote and protect the human rights of the peoples of ASEAN in the (1) Eminent Persons Group (EPG) which made recommendations for the ASEAN Charter; (2) the High Level Task Force (HLTF) which drafted the ASEAN Charter; and (3) the High Level Panel (HLP) on an ASEAN Human Rights Body which drafted the body’s terms of reference.

The Philippines also successfully negotiated a compromise which led to the adoption of the present name of the body, i.e., the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

As a leading democracy in the region, the Philippines is especially invested in the establishment and progressive development of a credible and effective regional body dealing with human rights protection and promotion. It therefore views the AICHR’s launch as the most significant highlight of this year’s summit.

To represent the Philippines in the AICHR, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has appointed Ambassador Rosario G. Manalo. Ambassador Manalo assisted former President Fidel V. Ramos in the EPG, as well as led the Philippine delegation in the HLTF and HLP. END

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