MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III left for Bali, Indonesia Sunday morning to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders forum, radio reports said.
Radyo Inquirer 990AM said cabinet members were already waiting in Indonesia as Aquino left Manila through a flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
Among those who saw the President off were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Public Works and Highways Rogelio Singon, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas and Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
The President’s expected time of arrival at Bali is 11:45 a.m.
On Saturday, Communications Secretary Ramon “Ricky” Carandang said Aquino was hoping to encourage the international business community to invest in the Philippines.
“We’re going to be talking about inclusive growth. President Aquino is going to talk to the international business community and other world leaders. We are going to be showing that the reforms we have undertaken over the last three years have borne a lot of fruit in terms of increased confidence in the Philippine economy and the management of the economy,” Carandang said.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate criticized the administration’s stand on foreign affairs, specifically United States forces in the country.
Zarate, in a statement, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) admitted during budget deliberations that the US was operating at least three military facilities in the country even without a new bases treaty.
“While many suspected the US military of maintaining military facilities in the Philippines, the admission of the DFA during plenary deliberations of its existence came as a complete surprise, especially the one in Camp Bautista in Sulu which they admit was constructed ‘in early 2002,’” he said as Aquino left for Indonesia.
The lawmaker said the Aquino administration has become “complicit in [the] duplicity and lack of transparency” of the US in its negotiations for the use of Philippine facilities.
US President Barack Obama will not attend the summit because of the partial shutdown of the government. Reports said this might affect the US state’s strategic “pivot” to Asia, with the Philippines among those expected to play a key role.
Meanwhile, China’s leader Xi Jinping has been making rounds in Malaysia and Indonesia to supposedly improve relations in the area as its territorial disputes with Philippines and Vietnam continue.