• Aquino toasts unity in final Vin d’honneur

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd has raised a toast to unity and cooperation as he hosted his final annual Vin d’honneur in Malacañang on Thursday.

    In his speech, Aquino thanked the diplomatic community for their continued support to his Administration.

    The President cited how, with the help of the international community, the Philippines has “come so far” during his term, citing improved economic growth.

    “This time of year also lends itself to nostalgia, which is why this will be a longer toast than normal and I hope you can forgive me. This is, after all, my final New Year’s toast as President, and I find that there are so many things to recall and be thankful for,” Aquino said.

    “Today, in marking the New Year with you for the last time as President, I could not be prouder, or more thankful for everything we have achieved together. One hundred million Filipinos began the virtuous cycle of change in 2010 and worked with us to ensure its progress, aided by so many partners and friends from the world over, like all of you here,” he added.

    Aquino acknowledged the assistance of foreign allies, as he cited one by one the contributions of different countries in the various fields including agriculture, aviation, trade, defense and security and the peace process.

    The President said the Philippines’ bilateral ties with other countries have been possible because of “commitment and action” of nations.

    “As members of the diplomatic community, you know that forging stronger bilateral ties requires more than words and wishful thinking. To produce actual results, there must be commitment and action. During my time in office, I have had the good fortune to work with so many of you in whom I saw a deep desire to help Filipinos and, by so doing, help your own people. You have done your countries proud,” he added.

    Aquino said he hopes that diplomats will “maintain, and even enhance, the already good relationships we hold, for the benefit of all.”

    “This is the key to overcoming the rest of the challenges facing us: from the rising number of refugees seeking sanctuary, to the evil of extremism, and to the ever-present battle against inequality and corruption. These are massive, daunting undertakings, that much is true,” he noted.

    “Yet they also represent opportunities for us to help millions of people to live peaceful, secure, dignified lives, to put enough food on their tables, to live free from fear and to pull their weight, as we all do our part in building a better world,” Aquino said.

    With all this, he said he hoped the diplomatic community would join him in treading the “straight path”—his Administration’s good governance and anti-corruption battlecry—in 2016, when a new set of national leaders will be elected.

    “Come May, the Filipino people will choose my successor, displaying the same commitment to positive transformation that they have shown over the past five and a half years. The straight path will open farther and wider well into the horizon of our nation’s future. I know you will continue to journey with us along this very path,” according to Aquino.

    In light of recent global events, the President urged nations to strengthen their links and unite toward inter-regional growth and stability.

    “It is my hope that we can maintain, and even enhance, the already good relationships we hold, for the benefit of all,” Aquino said.

    “To the unity that binds all of us today, a unity that has allowed us to work under the guidance of the Almighty, toward promoting inclusive growth, safety and stability across our borders,” he added.

    Aquino said this is the key to solve global issues today such as the refugee crisis, terrorism, inequality and corruption.

    “These are massive, daunting undertakings, that much is true. Yet they also represent opportunities for us to help millions of people to live peaceful, secure, dignified lives, to put enough food on their tables, to live free from fear and to pull their weight, as we all do our part in building a better world,” he added.

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