PGMA returns from Vietnam with good news for war vets

April 9, 2010 10:35 pm 

MANILA, April 9 — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived from the 16th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit in Vietnam at 4 p.m. today with a package of good news for Filipino war veterans on "Araw ng Kagitingan."

On her arrival statement, the President said she has directed the Department of Budget and Management and the Philippine Veteran Affairs Office to pay this month the P1.2 billion worth of benefits due to war veterans in payment of arrears of their total administrative disability.

She then stressed the need to fortify cooperation to ensure that the region remains resilient to any economic and financial crisis.

ASEAN leaders, according to her, adopted the Leaders’ Statement on Sustained Recovery and Development.

“We affirmed our determination to enhance regional financial stability through the Philippine-initiated Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, the Credit Guarantee Investment Facility and the ongoing enhancement of the ASEAN Surveillance Office,” the President said.

The summit, she said, also stressed the need to develop by October this year the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity through regional infrastructure and ICT (information and communication technology) connectivity.

During the summit, the Philippines pushed for freer flow of goods and services among ASEAN countries through the following:

1. Signing of the ASEAN Memorandum of Understanding on Rice between Thailand and the Philippines.

2. Signing of Amendment on the ASEAN Agreement in Harmonization of Tariff Nomenclature.

3. Ratification of six protocols on air services.

The President said climate change topped the summit agenda resulting in the adoption of an ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Joint Response to Climate Change, bringing to the fore the vulnerability of the Southeast Asian region to climate change as well as the need for strong cooperation on adaptation and mitigation efforts.

On cultural cooperation, the Philippines was recently inaugurated as the first ASEAN Culture Capital for two years (2010-2011), “linking our wealth of cultural diversity with the dynamism of cultures of member states to help forge a strong ASEAN regional identity, highlighting the promotion of creative industries, heritage conservation, fusion of social content with artistic excellence and providing cultural care-giving to vulnerable groups for capacity and confidence building, effective communications about one caring, sharing community, “ the President said.

As current chairman of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management, the Philippines assured the completion of the Standby Arrangement on Standard Operating Procedures for Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Management, she noted.

“I also took the opportunity to meet my counterparts from Vietnam and Malaysia, respectively, to foster closer bilateral relations on human resource development,” the President said.

As a follow up to her meeting with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, “both our countries look forward to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields like defense cooperation and increased trade,” she said.

Both sides, according to her, concluded a memorandum of understanding on education cooperation due for signing soon, specifically in the training in English and higher education programs, including nursing. (PNA) RMA/OPS/rsm

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