Asean’s 50th Founding Anniversary
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Ambassadors of the ASEAN Committee in Washington, D.C. (ACW), together tendered a diplomatic reception at the Philippine Embassy on 13 September 2017 to celebrate the 50th Founding Anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Speaking on behalf of the ASEAN Ambassadors, Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Minister Patrick A. Chuasoto in his remarks said ASEAN’s establishment had much to do with realization that, “sustained peace and stability as well as meaningful socio-economic development must also be sought through regional cooperation and solidarity.”
Minister Chuasoto also highlighted ASEAN’s steady progress in the past 50 years – greater integration efforts, increased political and economic cohesiveness, widespread engagements and strategic partnerships – while underscoring the principle of ASEAN centrality as an effective enabler for regional cooperation.
“Strategic diversity thus should not be regarded as something that threatens to overwhelm the Community and its efforts towards greater integration. We know this because the past 50 years have already validated ASEAN’s economic and strategic logic. Through perseverance and resolve, ASEAN now sits as a respected and important member of the global community,” he further said.
He also emphasized ASEAN’s strategic partnership with the United States strengthened by mutual trust and confidence and reinforced by people-to-people exchanges. “YSEALI is an outstanding example of how today’s millennials will drive ASEAN-US relations and develop ASEAN’s next generation of leaders”, Minister Chuasoto said.
In her remarks, Guest of Honor Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), who is also the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN, further emphasized the dynamic partnership between ASEAN and the United States in the past 40 years.
“Our Caucus believes that ASEAN should be the United States’ go-to partner for trade and investment,” said Congresswoman Wagner. With the help of people here tonight, our Caucus promises to build the next generation of leaders who will sustain and grow our cherished relationship,” she concluded.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton, another Guest of Honor, also spoke on the 40 years of rich relations between ASEAN and the United States. She called the relationship a compelling and strategic partnership on important issues.
Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton also expressed optimism at the Philippines’ successful chairmanship of ASEAN 2017, to be capped off by the upcoming Leaders’ meetings in November 2017.
“Since the first ASEAN-US Dialogue in Manila in 1977, we have partnered to improve the lives of citizens on both sides of the Pacific. Now we have a robust, strategic partnership through which we will also cooperate with ASEAN and its member states on security, rule of law, human rights, and people to people engagement,” she said.
US-ASEAN Business Council President and CEO Alex Feldman talked about the ASEAN Economic Community and its progress, and the importance of ASEAN to the United States.
“We are the very first organization outside of ASEAN to adopt the ASEAN name. We are the first and only American organization to be formally recognized in the ASEAN Charter and our purpose then as is our purpose today is to help American business grow in ASEAN, and grow it has,” Mr. Feldman said.
“American business has clearly bet on ASEAN today and on its future,” he further emphasized.
Following the official reception program, guests partook of a sumptuous buffet of different cuisines from each of the ten ASEAN countries.
Members of the Northern Virginia Rondalla provided the pre-program entertainment.
President Duterte Expects the Marawi Conflict to End Soon
President Duterte expects the Marawi conflict to end soon President Rodrigo Duterte, that he expects the conflict in Marawi City to end soon as government security forces continue to gain ground against the Maute terrorist group. The way the situation evolves in the city, the President said he thinks that the conflict will end “in a matter of days” or “before the end of the month.” “We are winning the war. Do not worry,” he said in his speech during his visit to Camp Quintin M. Merecido in Davao City.
Duterte said among the indications that the Marawi crisis would soon be over is that “there is less enemy to contend with, less resistance and less fighting.” Duterte noted that what is prolonging the conflict is the superior position of the enemy having occupied vantage positions, adding that most buildings are occupied by snipers resulting to casualties on the government side. At the same time, the President expressed his gratitude to the policemen, stressing that he will provide all their needs to do their job effectively. “I give you the assurance that you will be protected and I will be there to help you,” Duterte said. “The government is ever thankful for the service that you selflessly give to our country,” he said. “In this light, logistical support has been given to our police forces to ensure they have adequate provision to perform their duties as well.” The President said the wounded will be treated in military hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment, adding that he already allows the use of the Presidential aircraft to transport injured soldiers and policemen fighting in the frontline. “Mas kailangan ng mga sundalo natin. But you can rest assured that you will have the best. You will have the best of everything,” the President said. He also promised to build a hospital in Camp Quintin Merecido.
The President meanwhile informed that there will be an increase in the salaries of soldiers and policemen. “By next year, December malaman na ninyo ‘yan, next year January doblado na ang sweldo ninyo. Nag-i-increase kayo... Tingnan niyo ‘yung paycheck ninyo, every month nagtataas-taas. Pagdating ng January niyan, the whole amount, covered na,” he said. President Duterte also reiterated his promised of providing a P50 billion education trust fund for the children of service personnel. “Patay ka, buhay ‘yung para lang sa edukasyon sa mga bata. Just to make sure kung kulangin…‘yung mga benefits ninyo after you retire, you can apply… dito sa ano, ‘yung mga kulang,” he noted. And if they have concerns that are beyond their means, the President advised the policemen to inform their commanders or his office in order to address their problems. ###PND
Jamaican National Sentenced to Prison in Connection with Lottery Fraud Scheme Based in Jamaica
A Jamaican citizen charged in connection with the operation of a Jamaica-based fraudulent lottery scheme was sentenced to two years in prison by the federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Department of Justice announced today.
Shashana Stacyann Smith, 34, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. Smith was also ordered to pay $167,532.95 in restitution.
Smith pleaded guilty on March 31, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in the Western District of North Carolina. As part of her guilty plea, Smith acknowledged that from in or about early 2015 through at least in or about August 2016, she was a member of a lottery fraud conspiracy that targeted victims in the United States.
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to combatting foreign-based lottery fraud schemes targeting individuals in the United States,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Financial schemes designed to defraud unsuspecting victims will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Fight Against Anti-personnel Mines: the Brussels Declaration is 20 Years Old
Exactly 20 years ago, from 24 to 27 June 1997, the International Conference on Anti-Personnel Mines was held in Brussels. 97 states then signed the Brussels Declaration. They supported a comprehensive ban on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. They committed themselves to their destruction and to the establishment of international cooperation and assistance in mine clearance in the affected countries. Belgium was already advocating for victim assistance to be seen as an essential element in the fight against anti-personnel mines.
The Brussels Declaration of June 1997 marked a decisive step in the process of adoption and signing of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Oslo on 18 September 1997 and in Ottawa on 3 and 4 December 1997.
Today, 162 States are Parties to the Ottawa Convention. 85 States have completely destroyed their stocks and 30 of the 61 States that have recognized the presence of mined areas have finalized their de-mining. Victim assistance was introduced for the first time as an obligation in such a Convention.
20 years later, the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines is a success. However, the number of victims of anti-personnel mines,
especially improvised anti-personnel mines, continues to be worrying. Belgium again condemns the use of anti-personnel mines and improvised anti- personnel mines by anyone. To take into account the fate of victims, their family and community is also a priority for our country. Together with the civil society Belgium will retain its commitment.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders, we must stand up more than ever for a mine-free world by 2025, but also for a world without victims of mines. We must also continue to strive for the widest possible application of the Treaty. As always Belgium presents itself as an advocate for the universalization of the treaty along with the support of special envoys HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium and HRH Prince Mired of Jordan and along with the current Austrian Presidency of the treaty.
PRRD Leads National Heroes' Day Commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, August 27, 2018
Emulate National Heroes — President Duterte
TAGUIG CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, August 27, exhorts the Filipinos to honor the national heroes by following in their footsteps.
In his National Heroes’ Day speech at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani in Taguig City, President Duterte paid tribute to Filipinos who breathe extraordinary heroism in facing the insurmountable odds in defense of this nation and the values it stands for.
Duterte said, “We are gathered here today not just to commemorate their sacrifices and remember their exploits but, more importantly, to emulate their selflessness and to live up to their example as we go about our daily lives.”
Furthermore, Duterte stated that, as Filipinos, we should also honor not just those heroes whose statues proudly stand along hallways and pedestals, or whose portraits were embedded in our currency and history books.
He also urged everyone to pay respect to the everyday heroes who helped us in bringing this nation together, such as the volunteers, police officers, educators, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and ordinary Filipinos, who strive to make a difference.
“These are our [every day] heroes that we need our youth to emulate and look up to,” Duterte said.
Subsequently, the Chief Executive also commended the Filipino soldiers who fought courageously to protect the public against various threat groups. “We honor our brave troops who gallantly sacrificed their lives to defeat communist insurgents, Islamic separatists, and other threats to our sovereignty, especially those who took part in the successful liberation of Marawi from the clutches of terrorism and extremism.”
President Duterte further expressed his sincere hope that, as the country celebrates National Heroes’ Day, we also embody the ideals and values this nation’s heroes stood up for.
“Let us all become worthy heirs to their legacy so that we may leave behind to the succeeding generations of Filipinos a nation that they will also proudly give up their lives for, “ he added.
Before his speech, President Duterte led the wreath-laying rites at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.
Then, during the event, the Chief Executive was joined by National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman Dr. Rene Escalante and Taguig Mayor Ma. Laarni Cayetano. ### PND