Aquino trip to US a mix of nostalgia and triumph
MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino’s trip to the United States will be a mix of nostalgia and triumph, as his visit will not just be that of the only son of the Philippines’ democracy icons but as the leader of a country that matters in the region.
“(T)he primary objectives of the visit will be to continue to project the Philippines as an emerging economy and investment destination in Asia; to promote the country as having an economy with sound credentials built on the back of good governance principles; and to highlight the country’s role as an archipelagic and maritime nation with key advocacies in maritime security, maritime safety, promotion and growth of the blue economy and sustainable development,” said Assistant Foreign Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria.
After a grueling four-nation swing in Europe, Aquino is expected to arrive on Sept. 20 in Boston, the second home of the Aquino family that gave them a respite for those years from the brutality of martial law.
Aquino’s “first few activities” in Boston would be meeting “with old family friends of his parents when they were there. I think there’s just one event where he will have a chance to say hello to all of them and catch up,” Austria, assistant secretary for American affairs, said at a briefing in Malacañang.
The President will proceed to Boston College in the afternoon where he will be honored, starting with a special Mass to be followed by a convocation and a reception with members of the Filipino-American community in the New York-Boston area.
Aquino will get to meet with the students under Boston College’s scholarship foundation named after his late parents, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.
At Boston College, the President will talk about how his family’s community in Boston “inspired and supported the restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986.”
On Sept. 22, he will meet with Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, followed by business calls by three big American companies, which Austria did not identify.
The Chief Executive will also be interviewed over the National Public Radio.
Speech at Harvard
The President will cap his stay in Boston with a policy speech at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He is expected to speak on how “good governance is good economics in the Philippines, the challenge of inclusive growth, the Mindanao peace process, the rule of law and the state of play in the South China Sea.”
From Boston, Aquino will fly to New York City to start Day 4 of his US trip.
UN climate change summit
In New York on Sept. 23, he will join other world leaders for the United Nations Climate Change Summit at the UN headquarters.
However, Austria said while the President may have “chance meetings” with US President Barack Obama and other heads of state at the UN summit, he was not scheduled to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the Filipino peacekeeping operations in the Golan Heights.
Austria said it would be Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario who will meet with Ban Ki-moon.
The President will have a “series of media interviews with major print and TV companies,” as well as a business roundtable with the US Chamber of Commerce, the US-Asean Business Council, and the US-Philippines Society,” the assistant foreign secretary said.
Aquino will also be the speaker at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum, the Ivy League school’s prestigious year-round gathering that features not only heads of state but also thought leaders who share their ideas and take part in a lively and in-depth discussion.
The President’s speech is titled, “Pursuing the Path to Peace and Progress in Asia: the Philippine Perspective.”
“He will talk on the opportunities and challenges, Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as a driving force, the US as a Pacific power, China as the influential neighbor and emerging world power, and the basics of peace and progress,” Austria said.
He will leave New York for San Francisco the next morning.
Austria said what was supposed to be only a technical stop in San Francisco now included two business meetings after “we have had requests from big business companies to meet the President.”
The President will have at least two business meetings in San Francisco before he flies back to Manila and arrive on Sept. 25, capping a two-week working visit in Europe and the United States.
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