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Department of Foreign Affairs-30October2009-updates

9th Philippines-India Policy Consultations and 3rd Philippines-India Security Dialogue

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 04:02 AM PDT

30 October 2009 – The Philippines and India recently held their 9th Policy Consultations and 3rd Security Dialogue on October 29-30 at Diamond Hotel, Manila. It was the first time such talks were held since 2005, when the 8th Policy Consultations and 2nd Security Dialogue were held in New Delhi.

Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo and Secretary (East) Neelakantan Ravi of India Co-Chaired the meeting.

Secretary Ravi, who is also concurrent Ambassador of India (non-resident) to ASEAN, led the Indian delegation which also included Dr. Neena Malhotra, Director (South) of the Ministry of External Affairs of India; and India’s Ambassador to the Philippines, Rajeet Mitter.

Undersecretary Manalo, who led the Philippine Delegation, also received on behalf of Secretary Alberto G. Romulo a check worth US$100,000 (about P5 million) as a donation from the Indian Government for the victims of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. Secretary Ravi handed over the check in a brief ceremony right after the conclusion of the talks.

During the talks, the Philippines and India recalled three preliminary working groups for the Inaugural Session of the Philippines-India Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation namely: the 1st Joint Working Group on Tourism Cooperation (04 July 2008); the 1st Joint Working Group on Agricultural Cooperation (21-22 August 2008); and the 10th Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment (21-22 November 2008).

Preparations for the inaugural session of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in 2010 are under way. They also agreed that these talks come at an auspicious time, since the Philippines and India will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations on 16 November 2009.

Both countries aim to bring their engagement to a much higher plane. They acknowledged that more avenues of cooperation will be opened up, particularly in facing the challenges of climate change and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, among other issues and concerns.

They also recalled that at the 8th round of the Policy Consultation Talks in New Delhi on 7 July 2005, they agreed to increase the multi-dimensional and comprehensive relations evolving between the Philippines and India.

During the latest round, there was discussion on several areas of cooperation as follows: political cooperation, economic cooperation, agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, maritime shipping, education, and culture.

India noted the exponential increase in mutual trade – US$600 million in 2004-2005 to almost US$1 billion in 2008-2009, an increase of 60 percent over the past two years alone, following the mutual visits by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Secretary Ravi also mentioned specific pending bilateral issues between the two countries.

International and regional Issues of mutual interest were also discussed. The subject of ASEAN-India cooperation, cooperation in the United Nations including on climate change and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and emerging regional economic developments were raised. Relations with other bilateral partners in the region were also discussed.

The Philippines and India acknowledged that the security dialogue, which last met in July 2005, serves as the policy forum for sharing security assessments and for reviewing and setting direction to cooperation in bilateral/regional security and defense matters.

During the Security Dialogue portion of the talks, which was Co-Chaired also by Undersecretary Antonio Santos of the Department of National Defense, areas discussed were the RP-India Defense Cooperation Agreement, transnational crimes, drug trafficking and terrorism and the Implementation of Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism.
Prospects for future maritime security cooperation were also briefly discussed.

The Philippines and India agreed to maintain close contact including the convening of bilateral working groups, as appropriate, in preparation for the inaugural session of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation.

Both countries adopted a Joint Statement and agreed to formalize an Agreed Summary in the weeks to follow. END

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Joint Statement on the 9th Philippines-India Policy Consultations and 3rd Philippines-India Security Dialogue, 29-30 October 2009, Diamond Hotel, Manila

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 03:53 AM PDT

1. We, Undersecretary Enrique A. Manalo of the Philippines and Secretary (East) Neelakantan Ravi of India convened the meeting of the Philippines-India 9th Policy Consultations and 3rd Security Dialogue on 29-30 October 2009 in Manila.

2. Undersecretary Manalo thanked the people and government of India for the donation to the flood victims of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng. He also expressed condolences to the people in Karnataka province who suffered from deaths and damage to their property because of floods. Secretary Ravi handed over a donation of US$ 100,000 for the flood victims of Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng.

3. We recalled that three (3) preliminary working groups for the Inaugural Session of the Philippines-India Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation have been held: the 1st Joint Working Group on Tourism Cooperation (04 July 2008); the 1st Joint Working Group on Agricultural Cooperation (21-22 August 2008); and the 10th Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment (21-22 November 2008).

4. We noted that preparations for the inaugural session of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in 2010 are under way. We both agreed that these talks would come at an auspicious time, as we will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations on November 16, 2009.

5. We both also recalled that at the eighth (8th) round of the Policy Consultation Talks, in New Delhi, on 7 July 2005, both countries agreed to increase the multi-dimensional and comprehensive relations evolving between the Philippines and India. We also noted the exponential increase in mutual trade over the past two years alone, following the mutual visits by President Arroyo and Prime Minister Singh.

6. We thus acknowledged our respective aims to bring our engagement to a higher level. We both acknowledged that more avenues of cooperation be opened, particularly political cooperation and economic cooperation in areas such as agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, maritime shipping, as well as in education, and culture. In this regard, we identified new activities as well as outstanding matters which still need to be addressed.

7. The Philippines and India acknowledged that the security dialogue, which also last met in July 2005, serves as the policy forum for sharing security assessments and for reviewing and setting direction to cooperation in bilateral/regional security and defense matters.

8. During the Security Dialogue portion of the talks, areas discussed were the respective national security outlook for both countries, the Philippines-India Defense Cooperation Agreement, cooperation in transnational crimes and terrorism, and the Implementation of Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism.

9. International and regional Issues of mutual interest were also discussed. The subjects of ASEAN-India cooperation, cooperation in the United Nations, including climate change and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and emerging regional economic developments were also covered during the consultations.

10. The Philippines and India agreed to maintain close contact, including the convening of bilateral working groups, as appropriate, in preparation for the inaugural session of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation. END

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Filipino Communities in Gauteng, South Africa Hold Fund-Raising Activity for Victims of Typhoons

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 03:50 AM PDT

30 October 2009 — Philippine Ambassador to South Africa Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr. reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that the Filipino communities in South Africa’s Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located, held a fund-raising event for the victims of typhoons ‘Ondoy’ and ‘Pepeng.’

The fund-raising effort was spearheaded by Messrs. Ariel Ricasata, Jhun Calara, and Manny Villaflores, and Mesdames Neomi Handloegten, Everly Cirineo, and Bambina Olivares Wise, all from the Filipino communities in Gauteng province.

The event was able to raise ZAR 18,000 (around US$2,465) in cash donations alone. The donations will be deposited to the Philippine National Red Cross account.

Moreover, Consul Etienne Brechet of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Luanda, Angola, stated that the Filipino community in Angola also made contributions which they are directly giving to Caritas. END

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RP Delegation play active role in Macau’s biggest MICE event

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 03:44 AM PDT

30 October 2009 – The Philippines sent its very first official delegation to the Macau International Trade and lnvestment Fair (MlF) where it played an active part in what was the biggest edition yet of the internationally-renowned exhibition.

Philippine Consul General Jaime Victor Ledda said that the Philippines’ participation in the 14th MIF signifies the country’s desire to further expand economic relations with Macau SAR. The 14th MIF was held at The Venetian Convention Center on October 22-25 October.

DTI Senior Undersecretary Thomas G. Aquino led the Philippine delegation and was the highest ranking foreign official to grace the event. Members of the delegation included the Philippine Consulate General; DTI-BETP officials; food processors and exporters focusing on seafood, tropical fruit juices, coconut and related products.

Dr. Aquino was a guest speaker at the MIF Forum on October 22 and a seminar on Philippine business opportunities on October 23 where he emphasized that the Philippines has numerous trade and investment opportunities; that the Philippines economy has remained stable even in the midst of the global financial crisis; and that businesses or investment in the Philippines would be strategically placed for the larger ASEAN market.

“The delegation had a full schedule at the 14th MIF and they were able to engage in several fruitful and mutually beneficial exchanges,” according to Consul General Ledda. In addition to Dr. Aquino’s official functions at the 14th MlF, the Philippine delegation met with Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam and officials from the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion lnstitute (lPlM), linked up with local and Filipino businessmen, exhibited some of the country’s top food exports, conducted a business seminar and signed a cooperation agreement with lPlM.

The Philippine Consulate General in Macau collaborated with DTI and the lPlM in organizing a seminar entitled “The Philippines: Your Business Destination and Gateway to ASEAN” which was held on October 23 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Florence Room of The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel.

The seminar presented the country’s trade promotion initiatives, incentive schemes and the latest growth areas for business and investment, such as Agribusiness, IT-BPO, Infrastructure and Construction and Services. Local enterprises were invited to participate in the business matching and networking sessions with the Philippine delegation and to visit the Philippine booths at the 14th MIF Exhibition Area.

The seminar was highlighted by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the DTI-CITEM of the Philippines and the lPlM where the Manila F.A.M.E. and the MIF are established as partner fairs.

lt provides that both parties would work together to mutually promote the two fairs and explore opportunities to strengthen their respective exhibition industries. The agreement was signed by Dr. Aquino and lPlM President Lee Peng Hong.

The Philippines has developed a close relationship with the Macau SAR especially in the areas of trade, tourism, culture and human resources. Bilateral trade has grown significantly at an average rate of 49.97 percent from 2004-2008. Total trade reached US$16,842,467 in 2008 with Philippine exports to Macau amounting to US$8,131,788.

Consul General Ledda expressed sincerest thanks to the tPlM and the DTI for the strong support and cooperation in preparing the Philippine delegation’s program at the 14th MlF. END

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Philippine Embassy in Abuja Participates in Asohom

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 03:27 AM PDT

30 October 2009 – Mr. Alex Lamadrid, Charge d’ Affaires, a.i. of the Philippine Embassy in Abuja (center), witnessed the presentation of the souvenir gift to the First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Her Excellency Hajia Turai Yar’Adua (extreme right), by Mrs. Felisa Ramos (1st left), Cultural Officer, and Mrs. Rosemarie Akah (2nd left), Trade & Tourism Officer of the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, during the 2009 International Food Fair and Bazaar organized by the Association of Spouses of Heads of Missions (ASOHOM), at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Abuja.

The First Lady of Nigeria graced the International Food and Bazaar, a yearly charity program of the ASOHOM in Abuja.

The event was aimed at encouraging cultural exchange, trade and tourism promotion. It also enhanced the camaraderie among the members of the diplomatic community in Nigeria.

Hajia Yar’ Adua went round the stands of the participating countries and had a taste of their mouth watering dishes and viewed sample products typical to each participating countries. The event was well-attended by the diplomatic and expatriate communities, as well as by a huge number of Nigerians. END

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Philippine Embassy in Berne Collaborates with Swiss Red Cross Officials

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 01:35 AM PDT

30 October 2009 – The Philippine Embassy in Berne reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs that, in the aftermath of the two devastating typhoons in the Philippines, the Swiss Red Cross (SRC) has focused its efforts on post disaster reconstruction. Upon the urging of Senator Richard Gordon of Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC), SRC will construct transitional shelters in Calamba, Laguna to around 700 affected families in the Philippines. SRC is now in the process of buying land in Laguna for the site construction.

The funding for this project came from the Swiss Government, particularly from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the Swiss Solidarity and from their own funds.

Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro conveyed the heartfelt gratitude of the Filipino people and Government to the Swiss Red Cross, for the support and assistance they have been extending to the country.

The SRC is a private organization that also carries out public tasks on a mandate from the Swiss Government or the cantonal authorities. It is a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, with its headquarters in Geneva and part of a worldwide network of 186 national societies. Its counterpart in the Philippines is the PNRC chaired by Senator Gordon.

Internationally, the SRC is active on development programs such as health care and supports rescue operations on emergency situations.

Swiss Solidarity Foundation is Switzerland’s humanitarian solidarity and fund raising platform. It is led by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation together with the public and private print media. In the event of a catastrophe in any part of the world, the major part of donations received from the Swiss people are used for rehabilitation and rebuilding.

Swiss Solidarity raised almost 4 million Swiss Francs during its Donation Day last 9 October for the Philippines, projects of which to be executed by its partner NGO’s such as SRC and Caritas . The Philippine Embassy in Berne and the Swiss Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC) in Zurich collaborated to raise funds for the typhoon victims from the Swiss business community and was able to raise 100,000 Swiss Francs, which were all contributed to the Swiss Solidarity. END

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15th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits

Posted: 30 Oct 2009 01:27 AM PDT

30 October 2009 – The 15th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits was held in Cha-am, Hua-Hin, Thailand from 23 to 25 October 2009. Key Meetings at the Summit level include:

• 15th ASEAN Summit
• 12th ASEAN-China Summit
• 12th ASEAN-Japan Summit
• 12th ASEAN-ROK Summit
• 7th ASEAN-India Summit
• 12th ASEAN Plus Three Summit (with China, Japan and ROK)
• 4th East Asia Summit (with China Japan, ROK, India, Australia and New Zealand)

The 15th ASEAN Summit provided ASEAN Leaders with an opportunity to discuss current progress on how ASEAN can achieve an ASEAN Community by 2015; and the direction and future cooperation amongst ASEAN’s dialogue partners.

The official theme of the Summit, “Enhancing Connectivity, Empowering Peoples”, underlines the importance attached to the improvement of connectivity, both physically and culturally ASEAN Leaders adopted the Declaration on ASEAN Connectivity for the aspired betterment of the lives of all ASEAN people.

The Philippine priority interests in the 15th ASEAN Summit were:

• ASEAN Human Rights: Reiterate the Philippine offer to host the office of the AICHR in Manila at the appropriate time, and reaffirm the decision by Member States to contribute US$20,000 by the end of the year to the AICHR’s start-up fund to ensure that it will have the necessary support to begin its work to promote and protect human rights in the region.

• Disaster Management: Enhance cooperation on disaster risk reduction under the ASEAN Agreement on the Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) in the light of the recent calamities that hit the region;

• Climate Change: Support ASEAN’s common position on climate change;

• Global Financial Crisis: Welcome the results of the Ministerial meetings for the expeditious launching and operationalization of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilaterlisation (CMIM) in order to restore market confidence in ASEAN and boost regional efforts to address the global economic and financial crises; and Call for support of the call for ASEAN-led consultations among other regional groups in Asia and Asia Pacific in a coordinated response to the global economic and financial crises.

• Disarmament and Nuclear non-proliferation: Solicit support from ASEAN and dialogue partners for the success of the Philippine Presidency of the NPT Review Conference in New York in May 2010.

Highlights for the Summits include the inauguration of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), the adoption of a declaration on climate change to reaffirm ASEAN position in the negotiation under the UN Frameworks Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as the adoption of a declaration on education cooperation to achieve an ASEAN Community. Other issues affecting the well-being of the peoples including food and energy security, financial stability, pandemics as well as disaster management were also discussed.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reiterated the Philippine offer to host the office of the AICHR in Manila at the appropriate time. She also thanked ASEAN and dialogue partners for their assistance to the victims of recent calamities. The Philippines encouraged more cooperation on disaster management and climate change in view of the recent disasters that hit several ASEAN Member States.

During the Summits, President Arroyo also encouraged ASEAN and Dialogue Partners to support the Philippine Presidency of the 2010 Review Conference at the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). END

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GRP Welcomes U.S. State Department’s Commendation on Philippine Interfaith Initiatives

Posted: 29 Oct 2009 10:16 PM PDT

30 October 2009 – The Philippines welcomed the commendation by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on the country’s international interfaith initiatives, particularly the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace.

Secretary Clinton cited the Philippines in a speech announcing the publication of the U.S. State Department’s 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom on 26 October.

The commendation serves as a validation of the work being done by the Philippines in the promotion of interfaith dialogue as an engine for peace and development at the national, regional and international levels, the Department of Foreign Affairs stated.

State Secretary Clinton remarked that this year’s review is focused on the promotion of interfaith dialogue and tolerance. She emphasized the importance of interfaith initiatives such as those undertaken by the Philippines and Jordan, as they “build on the shared values and common concerns of faith communities to sow the seeds of lasting peace.”

Cognizant of the vital role of interfaith dialogue in promoting peace and the general well-being of its people, the conduct of community-based interfaith dialogues is a key strategy under the Philippines’ Medium-Term Development Plan. Interfaith dialogue also plays an integral role in the quest for lasting peace in Mindanao and is part of a framework for the conduct of healing and reconciliation programs.

The Philippines has maintained a lead role on interfaith initiatives in the international community. Its resolutions and initiatives on interfaith dialogue are well-entrenched in the United Nations (UN). Interfaith dialogue in the UN stems from a Philippine tabled resolution entitled “Promotion of Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue, Understanding and Cooperation for Peace that was unanimously approved by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in November 2004.

In addition to the Tripartite Forum on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace which is a partnership between governments, UN agencies and civil society organizations that work outside the UN mantle, the Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace (MMIDCP) is a high-level meeting founded and convened annually by the Philippines since 2006 at the sidelines of the UNGA.

During the 4th MMIDCP on 25 September 2009, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo emphasized the role of interfaith dialogue as a complementary approach to preventing conflict by sowing the seeds of mutual understanding, mutual respect, tolerance, reconciliation and cooperation.

As a concrete manifestation of the Arroyo Administration’s continuing commitment to the cause of peace and building bridges between communities of different cultures and ethnicity, the Philippines is scheduled to host the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development in 2010. This will mark the first time that a meeting on interfaith dialogue will be held under the auspices of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

The Annual Review of International Religious Freedoms is submitted by the U.S. State Department to the U.S. Congress in compliance with the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. The review serves as the basis for policy, conduct of diplomacy, assistance, training, and resource allocation of US government departments, agencies, bureaus, and offices. END

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Philippines and Japan Sign Agreement for the Improvement of the Meteorological Radar System

Posted: 29 Oct 2009 09:27 PM PDT

30 October 2009 – The Japanese Government is extending JPY 3.350 billion in grant aid to the Philippines to enhance the capability of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) in weather monitoring and weather information/warning dissemination as a way to help avoid damages caused by tropical cyclones and other severe phenomena.

In a ceremony held this morning at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto G. Romulo and Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura signed and exchanged the Notes for the Project for Improvement of the Meteorological Radar System.

The project, to be implemented by the PAGASA-DOST, will involve among others, the replacement of the three existing Meteorological Radar Systems in Aparri, Cagayan; Virac, Catanduanes; and Guian, Samar, with new Doppler (S-band) radar systems.

The Philippine Government welcomed this latest Japanese assistance package as timely and useful for the country, especially in light of the widespread destruction wrought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, and ongoing efforts to improve local meteorological capabilities.

Last March 30, Secretary Romulo and Ambassador Katsura also exchanged the Notes on the Project’s detailed design, worth JPY 23 million (around P12 million).

The signing ceremony was witnessed by officials from DFA, NEDA, DOST, PAGASA and the Embassy of Japan. END

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