MANILA, Philippines -- The United States Embassy in Manila has reiterated that the reported "Philippine flag faux pas" during the recent US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in New York City was not intentional.
"It was an honest mistake," Rebecca Thompson, embassy spokesperson, told the Philippine Daily Inqjuirer on Monday.
Thompson pointed out "what's important is that the US treasures its close relationship and strong partnership with the Philippines."
These, she said, "were demonstrated this past week during President Aquino's trip to the US with the signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, the US-ASEAN meeting and the meeting of our two presidents that followed it."
On Monday, J. Eduardo Malaya, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said it was "perhaps a case of honest mistake of protocol officers."
On Monday, another DFA official who asked not to be named said "Such blunders happen all the time...Even protocol specialists commit errors."
Photos of the working lunch hosted on Friday by US President Barack Obama for Mr. Aquino and other ASEAN leaders showed the flag hanging from a pole in an inverted position: the red field was atop the blue, suggesting the Philippines was in a state of war.
Section 10 of Republic Act No. 8491, also known as the "Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines," states: "The flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war. If in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace and the red field to the right in time of war."
The flag was almost directly behind the President, who was seated next to Obama.
The US-ASEAN meeting was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly that is attended annually by world leaders.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. has congratulated its host government and the Filipino people for the $434 million (about P20 billion) Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) poverty reduction grant to the country.
Mr. Aquino and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presided over the MCC signing rites in New York City last Sept. 23.
Thomas called the event a "historic day in US-Philippine relations."
According to the envoy, "the MCC grant will support President Aquino's efforts to reduce poverty, stimulate economic growth, combat corruption, and ensure a better future for all Filipinos."
In a statement, Thomas noted "through this grant, we will make our strong partnership even stronger."
The grant will fund three major projects here: $54.3 million for the computerization of key business processes at the Bureau of Internal Revenue; $120 million for the expansion of the Kalahi community-based rural development program focusing on small-scale infrastructure and related services; and $214.4 million for the rehabilitation of the 220-kilometer Samar Road that passes through 15 municipalities in the Eastern Visayas province.
"To ensure efficient and transparent implementation, the compact provides approximately $37 million for the administration, financial management, procurement oversight and audit, as well as $8.3 million for monitoring and impact evaluation," said the US embassy.