Obama to check eco-friendly jeepney program
By BING C. BRANIGIN White House Correspondent
WASHINGTON DC – United States President Barack Obama will be personally reviewing the progress of a program which seeks to replace the smoke-belching jeepney with an environment-friendly electric transport that is being supported by a technology maker in the US, during his visit in the Philippines.
According to Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes, President Obama will begin his second day in Manila on Tuesday, April 29 by viewing the City Optimized Managed Electric Transport (COMET).
“Those of you who have may have spent time in Manila know that this is one of the principal means of people getting around,” said Rhodes during a press briefing at the White House.
US-based Pangea Motors, LLC has teamed up with local investors to create an international partnership called Global Electric Transportation with a Philippine franchise named GET Philippines Inc. for the supply and distribution of COMET.
Pangea said that unlike its competitors, its vehicles are designed to be fully electric from the beginning instead of modifying gas vehicles or golf carts.
The vehicle uses lithium iron phosphate batteries that are enclosed in a watertight casing and consists of less than 300 parts instead of the usual 4,000 parts of a typical diesel-run engine, which translates to cost-efficient manufacturing and minimal maintenance, Pangea said.
The COMET can comfortably seat 16 passengers with a height clearance of over six feet. It also charges on a 220-volt outlet with its charging system built into the vehicle requiring only a four-hour charge time, and has a range of 80 to 100 kilometers on a full charge.
Upon his arrival in the Philippines on Monday, April 28, President Obama will have a one-on-one bilateral meeting with President Benigno Aquino III and a joint press conference.
On Monday night, Obama will attend a state dinner hosted by Aquino.
The American President is also scheduled to go to Fort Bonifacio where he will give his remarks to an audience that will include US and Filipino servicemembers and veterans.
Rhodes said the event will “underscore our deep security cooperation over the years, but also our security cooperation in the current environment in the Asia-Pacific as we seek to build out and advance the relationship between our militaries.”
“Then he will have a wreath-laying ceremony at the American Cemetery, which holds such importance to those who fought in World War II,” he said.
This will conclude Obama’s visit to the Philippines as he is scheduled to return to the US on April 29.
Prior to his visit to Manila, President Obama will first travel to Tokyo on April 23 where he will have a private dinner with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The following day, Obama will have an official arrival ceremony at the Imperial Palace to be followed by a bilateral meeting and joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe.
Following the press conference, the President will head to the Miraikan Science and Youth Event.
“Innovation is part of the comparative strength of the US-Japan relationship economically, and we’ll be able to lift up some of that science and technological cooperation and innovation through this event,” said Rhodes. “Afterwards, the President will have a cultural visit to a Meiji shrine.”
In the afternoon, Obama will attend a business roundtable with a variety of business leaders in Japan where he will have an opportunity to promote the SelectUSA Initiative, a new government-wide initiative that promote the US as the premier place to do business globally and help attract business operations to the US, in order to spur economic growth and job creation.
In the evening, the US President will attend a state dinner hosted by the Emperor.
The next morning, President Obama will have a farewell greet with the Emperor of Japan after which he will leave for South Korea.
Upon his arrival in Seoul on April 25, Obama will visit the National War Memorial to attend a wreath-laying ceremony and a cultural stop at the Gyeongbok Palace.
He will later have a bilateral meeting with President Park Geun-hye and a joint press conference with her. The two leaders will also have a working dinner in the evening.
“This visit follows on the trilateral meeting that we had with Japan and the Republic of Korea during the Nuclear Security Summit as we’ve been both investing in these alliances but also the trilateral cooperation in Northeast Asia,” said Rhodes.
The following morning the President will once again have a meeting with business leaders to discuss the US-Korea economic relationship, the SelectUSA Initiative, and also the implementation of KORUS, the free trade agreement between the US and the Republic of Korea.
“Again, throughout this visit the President will be making sure to have these types of engagements with the business community,” Rhodes pointed out.
President Obama is also scheduled to visit the Combined Forces Command where he will have a briefing from the commander on the ground about the efforts of the US to be resolute in support of its Korean ally and also in the face of North Korean provocations.
He will then have an opportunity to give remarks at Yongsan Garrison to an audience of US servicemembers, as well as embassy staff.
After Seoul, Obama will visit Malaysia, the first by a US President since Lyndon Johnson.
After the arrival ceremony, the President will attend a royal audience and state dinner that evening.
On Sunday, President Obama will begin with a cultural visit to the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur. He will then have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak, a working lunch and press conference. Then the two leaders will head to the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Center.
“Malaysia hosted the Entrepreneurship Summit, which grew out of the President’s initiative last year,” said Rhodes. “They did an exceptional job, and are following up with a number of initiatives focused on entrepreneurship that can help grow the Malaysian economy but also serve economic growth in the Asia Pacific more broadly.”
Following that tour, the President will head to Malaya University, where he’ll have a town hall with young leaders from across Southeast Asia.
“So this is a particularly interesting event in that we have invited young people from all 10 of the ASEAN countries to come to this town hall,” Rhodes said. “The President will be speaking--giving a speech there, but also engaging with the young people. We’ll be launching a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, somewhat similar to the initiative we have in Africa, to build relationships across Southeast Asia in coordination with our broader strategy of engaging the ASEAN countries--again, not just at a leader level, but at a young leader level as well.”
In the evening, President Obama will also have a meeting with leaders in Malaysian civil society./PN