Ochoa: President Aquino’s final decision on IIRC report will be fair

President Benigno Aquino III will make his final decision on the recommendations of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) based purely on merits.

Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr. made this assurance in the course of studying the recommendations of the IIRC, which was formed by President Aquino to look into the August 23 hostage-taking incident.

“Everyone has access to the report, but in the end the President will decide on this. Until then, let’s not preempt the President,” Ochoa said.

According to Ochoa, personalities and politics will not influence the Chie Executive’s final decision.

“The President has always been fair and he will decide on the merits of this case, and not on the personalities or politics involved. He will make a decision that will satisfy the demands of justice, not the demands of political expediency,” Ochoa said.

President Aquino has tasked the Executive Secretary and his Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Eduardo de Mesa, to assist him in the review of the recommendations of the IIRC panel which identified government officials and media men and organizations who should face sanctions.

According to Ochoa, the role of the Palace lawyers is to help the President understand the legal nuances of the IIRC report and recommendations. “It may or may not sit well with everyone, but the President is a man who is more concerned with truly doing the right thing, not the perception of doing the right thing.”

“Our people have entrusted the President with the task of upholding the Constitution and enforcing our laws. His job in this case is to see to it that justice is done, and unjustly sanctioning people left and right to satisfy the public’s desire to see heads roll is as big an injustice as letting those responsible for this tragic incident go scot-free,” he added.

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Aquino sees need for global engagement in R.P. development

President Benigno S. Aquino III recognizes the importance of strengthened global engagement in the country’s development.

In his message at the forum organized by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) held at the CFR Auditorium in New York on Thursday (Friday in Manila), the President said strong relations with other countries and partnership with the international financial community will help realize his administration’s goals and objectives.

“Our engagements with the rest of the world will always be at the service of our aspiration to build a vibrant nation,” the President said.

At the forum, the President discussed the Philippines’ relations with its neighbors in the ASEAN, the US and development partners and the Pacific Rim and his government’s vision and platform of government, including the creation of an investor-friendly environment and the peace talks.

“Indeed we have high aspirations in our foreign relations,” the President said even as he quoted US President Barack Obama’s observation that “the Philippines punches above its weight in the international arena.”

The CFR is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the US and other countries.

Founded in 1921, the Council takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.

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RP to seek US support for Trans-Pacific Partnership entry

The Philippines is seeking the support of the United States in its bid to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral free trade agreement formed with the objective of creating a platform for promoting economic integration among nations in the Asia-Pacific region, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday afternoon in New York (Friday morning in Manila).

In his speech at the Council of Foreign Relations at the CFR Auditorium in New York City, President Aquino said the country is “positioning” itself to join the TPP by laying out the tenets that will mark the new Philippines: good governance, employment generation, quality education, improved public health and a home for every family, within safe communities.

President Aquino is in New York for a weeklong visit.

“With keen interest, we note the Obama administration’s focus in negotiating a regional Asia-Pacific trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement,” President Aquino said.

“Envisioned as a platform for economic integration across the region, the TPP countries would be in a best place to become the region’s leading hub for trade, investment and growth,” he added.

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