Press Release
June 21, 2006

Former President Aquino to address gathering of
international liberals at PICC Thursday

Former President Corazon Aquino will address over 100 top liberal leaders from over 30 countries during the opening session of the joint Liberal International (LI), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) at 9:30 am, Thursday morning.

Senate President and Liberal Party of the Philippines head Franklin Drilon, principal host of the affair, said Aquino, whose late husband former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. is one of the martyrs of the LP, was expected to dwell on the role of liberal democrats throughout the world in the face of economic and security challenges in the 21 st century.

Mrs. Aquino, whose only son, Tarlac Rep. Beingno "Noynoy" Aquino III, is currently LP Vice Chairman, will also talk about the plight of millions of Filipino overseas contract workers and the issue of international migration in the global scene. The event is the joint CALD-ALDE-LI Meeting focusing on Population, Migration and the Globalization of Labor, Drilon added.

The visiting liberals, including 30 Members of Parliament and Senators, five incumbent ministers and a number of national and local officials, are in the Philippines to attend the CALD-ALDE-LI Meeting in Manila, Cavite Province and Tagaytay City starting Thursday, June 22 until Saturday, June 24, Drilon said.

Among the prominent Liberal leaders present are The Lord Alderdice, President of the Liberal International and member of the British Parliament, Member of the European Parliament Graham Watson, who is also ALDE leader; Dr. Wolfgang Gerhart, former leader of the German Liberal Party and current Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Chair; former International Labor Organization (ILO) Chairman Chung Eui-yong, MP and Dr. Yoo Jay Kun, MP of the ruling Uri Party of Korea; Malaysian Senator Dr. S. Vijayaratnam; Italian MEP Lappo Pistelli; and MP Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodian National Opposition and President of the Cambodian Sam Rainsy Party.

While in the Philippines, the international liberal leaders will discuss not only the strengthening of ties among Liberals worldwide but will also tackle the alarming and unabated killings of militant political leaders and journalists in the Philippines under the Arroyo administration, according to Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta, concurrent LP and CALD Secretary-General. Drilon is the current CALD chairman.

"Obviously, any Liberal Democratic party will really look at this with great alarm because it goes fundamentally against all basic principles of liberal democracy, which is upholding civil rights, say, primacy of individual freedom," said Acosta, referring to the rash of political killings in the Philippines allegedly by death squads.

Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001, hundreds of militant political leaders and journalists have been killed by suspected death squads. The latest killings claimed the lives of Mindanao couple George Vigo and Maricel Alave-Vigo on Monday.

The International Federation of Journalists on Tuesday decried the killings. IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, reported that Vigo was a contributor to the Union of Catholic Asian News. His wife, Alave-Vigo hosted a program at the local radio station DXND.

Acosta said the international liberal leaders have expressed their grave concern over the unabated killings, noting that the Liberals' position was that "everything has to be resolved in the political area through dialogue not by killing or taking of human life."

"This is the reason why we are against death penalty and any baseless action that infringes on that very basic right of the individual and the individual's liberty," Acosta said.

He said terrorism and civil liberties will be the subjects of discussion by the leaders of CALD-ALDE-LI during the international academic conference at the Yuchengco Center of the De La Salle University in Manila on Friday, June 23. The conference is organized by the Philippine liberal think tank, the National Institute for Policy Studies (NIPS) and the La Salle Institute for Governance (LSIG).

Terrorism and civil liberties, however, are just two of the issues to be discussed during the three-day gathering hosted by the LP, the current Chair, with the support of the German liberal foundation, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), according to Acosta.

The main focus of the joint CALD-ALDE-LI meeting are population, migration, globalization of labor and all issues related to these concerns, Acosta informed. "We added terrorism as a panel because that's also migration, the movement of physical terrorism across boundaries with the Internet, with various Islamic cells not only in Southeast Asia but in Europe," he said.

Acosta said the CALD-ALDE-LI put population, migration and globalization on top of their agenda in this year's meeting in view of many issues arising from these areas of concern.

Issues related to the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), particularly in Europe, are the main focus in so far as the Philippines is concerned, Acosta said. In Europe, he said, it is the influx of Muslim population and the different issues that go with it including citizenship and the wearing of veil in school.

In terms of religion, Acosta said CALD-ALDE-LI will see how organized religions like Catholicism in the Philippines or Islam in Indonesia and other countries play a role in influencing social policies not just in population but also in education, health and other social issues. Brain drain will be discussed as well, it being connected with the globalization of labor, Acosta said. "The focus, however, is not on brain drain per se but its benefit to both continents," he explained.

"The European parliament as well as Asian parliaments and political parties will discuss how to deal with the movement of migrants, relocating to different countries, taking or new citizenships or permanent residency," Acosta said.

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