President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 28th annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas Party at the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Friday (December 05). The Bulong Pulungan media forum started 28 years ago on the onset of People Power by the country’s leading lifestyle journalists. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the 28th annual Bulong Pulungan Christmas Party at the Luzon Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City on Friday (December 05). The Bulong Pulungan media forum started 28 years ago on the onset of People Power by the country’s leading lifestyle journalists. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — President Benigno S. Aquino III left Thursday morning for Busan, South Korea to attend the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK) Commemorative Summit on December 11 to 12.

In his pre-departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, the President said he decided to push through with the trip to South Korea after assessing that Typhoon ‘Ruby’ (Hagupit) was not as devastating as Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ (Haiyan).

He said he has full confidence that his Cabinet Secretaries could handle the relief efforts.

“Ngayon nga pong umaga, tuloy na ang paglipad natin patungong South Korea para dumalo sa naturang Commemorative Summit. Magandang pagkakataon po ito para diligan at patuloy pang palaguin ng inyong pamahalaan ang ugnayang Philippines-South Korea,” he said.

President Aquino noted that high on his agenda at the summit are economic growth, intensifying national defense, tourism, strengthening the cooperation among citizens of both countries, and global climate change.

“Nananabik po tayong muling makausap si Presidente Park (Geun-hye). Kukunin natin ang oportunidad na ito upang lalong mapalawak at mapaigting ang kooperasyon ng Pilipinas sa kanila, at maisulong ang estabilidad at kaunlarang kapaki-pakinabang sa ating mga bansa,” he said.

He further said that this will be his last foreign trip for this year.

“Tulad ng dati, makakaasa po kayo: Susulitin natin ang bawat sandali upang mapaigting ang pakikipagtulungan sa ibang bansa; kukunin natin ang bawat pagkakataon para makapaghatid ng mas maraming oportunidad sa pag-asenso sa ating mga Boss, ang sambayanang Pilipino,” said the President.

Among those who sent the President off were Vice President Jejomar Binay, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Environment Secretary Ramón Jesús Paje, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de Los Reyes, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., and Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto.

“Tunay po na hakbang sa bawat hakbang, nakikita na natin at ng buong mundo ang kakayahan ng Pilipinas na makamit ang makabuluhang pagbabago. Kaya naman, tuloy-tuloy lang tayo sa pagtahak sa tuwid na daan; patuloy tayong mag-ambagan at magmalasakit sa isa’t isa, at tiyak ko po, tuloy-tuloy lang din ang kolektibo nating pagsulong tungo sa isang mas maunlad at mas masaganang kinabukasan,” President Aquino added.

After his speech, the President boarded Philippine Airlines flight PR001 at 8:50 a.m. He is expected to arrive in Busan at about 2 p.m., Manila time. (MNS)