Aquino leaves for 4-nation Europe trip

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Aquino leaves for 4-nation Europe trip
It will be President Benigno Aquino III's first trip to the region since he assumed office in 2010


MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III left late Saturday night, September 13, on a chartered flight to Spain – the first leg of a 4-nation trip that will also bring him to Belgium, France, and Germany.

The President boarded a PAL chartered flight at 9:45 pm.

The Cabinet Secretaries who left with the President are Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma, Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Abad, among others.

During his 8-day trip to Europe – his first to the region since he assumed office in 2010 – the President will apprise potential investors of positive economic developments in the Philippines which has received a series of credit ratings upgrades during his watch.

Foreign Assistant Secretary Zeneida Angara-Collinson said in a recent news briefing  that Aquino will discuss with his counterparts developments in the West Philippine Sea, where tensions have risen over territorial disputes between  China and the Philippines, and other claimant-countries.

Aquino will also take up with them the Philippines’ Generalized System of Preferences application, the welfare of Filipino seafarers, and the peace process in Mindanao.

In Madrid, Aquino will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and His Majesty King Felipe VI to thank Spain for keeping the Philippines as a priority country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

In Brussels, Belgium, he will meet with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, His Majesty King Philippe, and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo.

He will also deliver a policy speech at the Egmont Institute in time for the 50th anniversary of the Philippine-EU relations.

In Paris, Aquino will have separate meetings with President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls to discuss bilateral issues, including the reactivation of the joint economic committee. 

He will also witness the signing of the Philippines-France Defense Cooperation Agreement and the air services agreement; and deliver a policy speech at a forum organized by the French Institute for International Relations.

In Berlin, Germany, the President will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Joachim Gauck. He will also deliver a policy speech at a forum organized by the Körber-Stiftung and the Asia Pacific association.

The President is also expected to meet with the Filipino community in all 4 countries. 

From Germany, the President will head to New York City to attend the United Nations Global Climate Change Summit.

FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE. This will be his first trip to the region as Philippine president. Photo courtesy of Malacañang

No need for ‘caretaker’

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview with state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday that the President, as has been his practice, did not designate a government “caretaker” during his overseas trip.

Valte said Vice President Jejomar Binay could convene Cabinet meetings, if necessary, in an August 2010 memorandum from the President, which she said “still stands.”

The memo states that the Vice President will represent the President in chairing Cabinet meetings, and that the Executive Secretary will convene such meetings – if needed.

Valte said technological advances will allow constant communication between Philippine officials and the President.

Aquino is scheduled to return to Manila on September 25. –

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