Aquino’s Japan trip costs taxpayers P15-M


A total of P15-million has been allocated for President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-Japan Commemorative Summit, a Malacanang official said.

Aquino left on Thursday morning for Tokyo via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight accompanied by a 57-member delegation that includes his Cabinet officials. He was scheduled to return to Manila on December 15.

The delegation included Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Transportation and Communications Secretary Emilio Abaya, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria and Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said that the budget covers “transportation, accommodation, food and equipment, among other requirements, of the President and his official delegation.”

“The participation of President Aquino in the Asean-Japan Commemorative Summit will further strengthen our relationship with Japan, a long-time ally and strategic partner in trade, tourism and labor,” he said.

During the summit, Ochoa said that the President is set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister’s official residence “for bilateral discussion on disaster management, economic and maritime cooperation, and progress on the Mindanao peace process.”

Both leaders will also witness the signing of three exchange of notes on the post-disaster standby loan worth JP¥ 10 billion or $100 million, a loan for multi-role response vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard worth JP ¥18.732 billion or $187 million, and a revised route schedule for the Philippines-Japan Air Services Agreement.

Aquino’s schedule also includes a social call by Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and a courtesy call by former Japan International Cooperation Agency president Dr. Sadako Ogata, who is now advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a special advisor to JICA President Akihiko Tanaka, he added.

According to Ochoa, the President is also slated to meet two of Japan’s biggest business federations to woo them to invest in the country.

“He will meet with the Nippon Keidanren, Japan’s association of business organizations, representatives from Nidec Sankyo Corp., and a delegation from the Sumotomo Mitsui Banking Corp,” he said

“President Aquino will also witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding for an 850-room retirement community in Cebu City, as well as receive an honorary doctorate law degree from the prestigious Sophia University,” he added

On Saturday, Ochoa said that the President will join fellow Asean leaders for a commemorative summit with Japan in celebration of 40 years of relations.

President Aquino is expected to deliver a statement during the Asean-Japan Commemorative Summit at the Akasaka State Guest House, he said.

The leaders are expected to tackle the future direction of Asean-Japan relations on politico-security, economic and socio-cultural cooperation. CATHERINE S. VALENTE


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