(UPDATE) President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III will push through with a scheduled trip to South Korea, amid a huge quake that struck Bohol and affected several Visayas areas.
The president will still be able to visit quake-hit areas Bohol and Cebu on Wednesday, before flying to South Korea Thursday. Aquino will go to the Northeast Asian country upon the invitation of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and no trip cancellation has so far been reported.
Aquino's trip to South Korea signals his first meeting with Park, where they are expected to discuss political, economic and defense concerns during the state visit scheduled for October 17 and 18.
Aquino will also speak before the Korean business community in a bid to attract investments. He will also meet members of the Filipino community in Korea.
Palace officials however clarified Aquino is closely monitoring the quake’s aftermath and is set to be briefed by disaster management officials in Camp Aguinaldo.
Korea will be the President’s third out-of-the-country trip in October, following his participation in the APEC Summit in Indonesia and the ASEAN Summit in Brunei.
It will meanwhile be the sixth time Aquino will go abroad this year. The President traveled to Switzerland in January, Brunei in April and Myanmar in June.
Korea is among the country’s top partners in trade and investments. In 2012, the Tourism department recorded more than a million tourists from Korea, contributing nearly a quarter of total tourism arrivals.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …