HANOI, Vietnam – Save for a Palace aide’s “wine sucks” tweet, President Aquino’s participation in the 17th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and related summits here has been successful, netting P21.4 billion in road assistance from Japan.
Aquino conveyed the good news to Manila-based reporters, through Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, right after the chief executive’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan at the National Convention Center here late Friday.
“They (Japanese government) approved a P21.4-billion loan for the upkeep and upgrade of (Philippine) roads. It’s a Department of Public Works and Highways project that Secretary (Rogelio) Singson has been working on,” Carandang told newsmen. The ASEAN leaders summit ended yesterday. The Philippine government had bilateral meetings with six of its neighbors, with the exception of Indonesia whose leader had to leave the summit to attend to the country’s tsunami and earthquake victims, along with Russia and China.
Aquino is slated to arrive today from a two-day state visit here and attendance to the ASEAN Summit, from Oct. 28 to 30.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had also attended the convention, being members of the East Asia Summit.
Financial assistance from Japan will come in the form of official development assistant for the improvement and maintenance of Philippine roads, which Singson promised to complete before Mr. Aquino’s six-year term ends in 2016.
Saying Japan was “very supportive of our infrastructure projects,” Carandang also revealed the country’s commitment to find “ways to make it easier for our nurses to come to Japan” through the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement.
Aquino is expected to be in Japan for the APEC Summit in mid-November.
Carandang said both the Japan and Philippine governments had agreed to “explore ways where we can help nurses improve their passing the national exams.”
“One thing they are considering is to teach our nurses (the) Japanese (language) even before they go to Japan so a lot of proposals are on the table, but they want to make it easier for our nurses to have access to their labor force,” Carandang said.
He also pointed out that Japan wanted nothing in return for the generous grant but “we offered to “support them in their bid to join the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member for 2016 to 2017.”
“So we will vote for Japan. Our vote will go to Japan,” he said.
Earlier, Assistant Secretary Mai Mislang got herself in the news after she revealed in a Twitter message her dislike for the wine served by their Vietnamese hosts during toasts by Aquino with Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet.
In her Twitter message, Mislang also said Vietnamese males were not very attractive and that the streets in the country were dangerous.
“Mai is one of the hardest working people in our office she is trusted by the President and this is just a minor issue. So, I don’t think it’s going to become anything more. As far as we are concerned tapos na iyun (it’s over), it’s a closed book,” Carandang said in defending Mislang.
“No offense meant to anybody. It was something that was spontaneous. We talked about it and we’re all being careful now about tweeting,” he said.
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star