President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Tuesday Morning

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III on Tuesday morning left for his two-day state visit to Vietnam to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Hanoi.

President Aquino boarded a commercial flight of Philippine Air Lines (PAL) PR 591 which took off 7:20 a.m. Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 2.

Malacanang sent a lean delegation to Vietnam, with only 53 members, including the President himself.

Joining him are some Cabinet members: Trade Secretary Greg Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan and Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning head Ricky Carandang.

Also joining P-Noy’s delegation was Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin who went ahead of the President in Vietnam.

The Philippine government is set to sign four agreements with Vietnam on defense, education, response and search rescue at sea and oil spill prevention.

President Aquino is also expected to bring up the issue on the hotly contested Spratly islands in the South China Sea and seek an agreement with other ASEAN countries claimants on the islands.

Aside from the Philippines, among other ASEAN countries claiming the Spratly islands are Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and China.

Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President will return to the country on November 1, All Saints Day, to visit the grave of his parents, former President Corazon Aquino and martyred Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., in Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.

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