After the US, China and Japan envoys visit Noynoy Aquino

May 27, 2010 8:36 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, May 27 — Ambassadors Liu Jianchao of China and Makoto Katsura of Japan on Thursday paid courtesy visits on Sen. Benigno Simeon Aquino III at his private residence in Quezon City in Metro Manila, the latest ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary to congratulate him on his presumed victory in the May 10 presidential elections.

The first to do so was U.S. ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. on May 21.

Liu's visit came in the shadow of a lower court decision on Wednesday which named two alleged major players in the controversial NBN-ZTE case — then Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin S. Abalos and current SSS president Romulo Neri — respondents in criminal charges related to the botched I.T. deal.

In fact, the Liu-Aquino meeting touched on the aborted NBN-ZTE project that was to have been financed by the Chinese government. Liu and Aquino agreed that the NBN-ZTE issue is a thing of the past and should now be put to rest.

The Chinese embassy would not give details of the visit, but it was reported that since Aquino is a fifth-generation Chinese on his mother side, the so-called “Fujian connection” was also mentioned between the two. Fijuan is a province in southeastern China where Aquino's maternal ancestors originated.

As for Japan, a bilateral meeting this week of a committee under the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) pronounced that their trade relations have improved considerably since before JPEPA came into force in December 2008, and called for more programs to enhance the ‘strategic partnership.”

At their meeting, Katsura expressed “his strong wish to continue to work closely with the next administration in order to further enhance the strategic partnership” between Tokyo and Manila, the Japanese embassy said.

Katsura reiterated his view that Japan and the Philippines “share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and respect for human rights.”

The Japanese envoy also extended his “heartfelt congratulations to the Senator on the strong support for and trust in him of the people of the Philippines as demonstrated in the recent elections” and for the “success of the country's first automated national elections.”

Unofficial canvassing shows Aquino leading by a wide margin over closest rival, former President Joseph Estrada. But he could not be proclaimed the winner yet due to procedural issues at the Philippine Congress.

The new President must be in his post by noon of June 30.

The long wait till Aquino is proclaimed President-elect by Congress leads diplomatic missions to fidget.

At this point in time, diplomatic missions in Manila have been preparing statements expressing the directions of their respective bilateral relationships with a new Philippine government.

Two major players in the NBN-ZTE controversial issue, Jose de Venecia III and Apolinario Lozada Jr., ran for senators in the May 10 polls on the platform of government corruption but lost badly.

With their courtesy visits, the Philippines’ three greatest allies who are also the world’s three major economies have met with Aquino just days before he is due to be proclaimed and succeed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (PNA)

DCT/GJB

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