The government has allotted P6 million for President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s day-long trip to Myanmar for his participation in the 22nd World Economic Forum (WEF) East Asia summit, a Palace official said on Friday.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the President left on Friday morning for Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight.
The President is expected to be back in Manila by 12:05 a.m. on Saturday, Valte added.
In his departure speech, Mr. Aquino said that he expects to bring positive opportunities from his Myanmar trip.
This will be an opportunity to showcase economic progress in the Philippines, hailed as the “brightest spark” in Southeast Asia, he said.
“Sa ganitong mga biyahe, hindi natin kailanman kinakalimutan ang pangunahing pakay namin bilang mga lingkod-bayan: Ang mag-uwi ng mas marami pang makabuluhang pagkakataon para mga Pilipino, at ibandila ang bagong mukha ng Pilipinas—isang bansang handang makipagbayanihan sa ibang nasyon tungo sa maaliwalas na ekonomiya’t pagnenegosyo; isang bansang tunay na nagniningning at tinitingala ng mundo,” Aquino added.
Aquino is also set to meet with Myanmar President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now a parliamentarian and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy, at the sidelines of the forum.
The trip’s significance will pour to the 2014 East Asia WEF, which the Philippines will host.
In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said that the expenses cover the charter lease, accommodations, transportation, food and equipment, among others, for the President and his official delegation.
Mr. Aquino was accompanied by a 57-member delegation, including Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary to the President Jose Rene Almendras, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Andrea Abad and Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria.
Other members of the official delegation are Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Communications and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang, who all left ahead of the Chief Executive.
“The WEF on East Asia in Myanmar will gather over 900 participants, mostly key decision-makers, from 55 countries to discuss the challenges facing the region,” Ochoa added
This is the first trip of President Aquino to Myanmar and also a first by a Philippine leader since former President Fidel Ramos, who visited the Asean neighbor in 1997. It is also the third foreign trip of the President this year after Davos, Switzerland in January and Brunei Darussalam in April.