Gov’t. allots P8.9-M for PNoy’s participation to ASEM 9 in Lao PDR

The government has set aside around P8.9 million for President Benigno S. Aquino III’s participation to the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) which will be held in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) from November 5 to 6, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. said on Sunday.

The Chief Executive left Sunday afternoon for Vientiane to attend the ASEM 9, his first since assuming the presidency in 2010, and pursue stronger political and economic ties with other leaders from Asia and Europe.

He is accompanied by a 60-member official delegation that includes Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, incoming Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, PCOO Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

Philippine Ambassador to Lao PDR Maria Lumen Isleta and Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Elizabeth Buensuceso are also part of the presidential delegation attending the two-day forum with the theme “Friends for Peace, Partners for Prosperity.”

“President Aquino hopes to further strengthen our exceptional partnership with Europe by reaffirming the significance of the long-standing economic and political ties between our country and the region,” Ochoa noted.

Ochoa said the estimated expenses for President Aquino’s participation to the ASEM 9 covers the entire delegation’s chartered flight to Lao PDR, accommodation, transportation, food, and equipment and telecommunications requirements, among others.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), President Aquino is expected to “exchange views with counterparts from the two regions on the Eurozone crisis, trade and investment facilitation, energy and food security, disaster management, counter-terrorism, migration and regional issues.”

The Chief Executive will also highlight the government’s anti-corruption programs and accomplishments in good governance, as well as underline the importance of upholding the rights of migrant workers.

According to official data from the foreign affairs department, there are more than 700,000 Filipinos living and working in Europe as of 2011.

Europe is the Philippines’ third largest trade partner after North America and Asia, with trade pegged at $13 billion or about 12 percent of the country’s total trade to the world last year, the DFA said.

During the same period, the DFA added, some P33.3 billion worth of investments came from the European Union, primarily from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. #