Manila (13 August) -- The Democratic Republic of Timor Leste (East Timor) and the Philippines signed three agreements on education, marine and fisheries, and diplomat training and development.
The agreements were signed in the presence of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta, in simple ceremonies held in Malacaņang Palace yesterday morning.
The first accord was a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on Academic Cooperation that will strengthen cooperation and mutual assistance between the Philippines and Timor Leste in the provision of education and professional training.
Exchange of information on education and training systems.
The signatories to this agreement were Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Nona Ricafort for the Philippines and Ambassador Francisco Cepeda for Timor Leste.
The second MoA was on Marine and Fisheries Cooperation which was signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap for the Philippines and Timor Leste Foreign Affairs Minister Zacarias Albano de Costa.
Under the MoA on Marine and Fisheries Cooperation, the two countries shall promote cooperation in the sustainable development and responsible management of marine life as well as encourage consultation and greater cooperation on agreed areas of fisheries.
The third agreement was between the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines through the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of Timor Leste on the Training and Development of Timor Leste Diplomats at the FSI.
This MoU provides for the acceptance of junior diplomats of Timor Leste into the FSI's Foreign Officers' Cadetship Program and FSI's other training programs.
The MoU also requires the FSI to prepare and implement programs customized to the training needs of diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Timor Leste.
The MoU was signed by DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo and Timor Leste Foreign Affairs Minister Zacarias Albano de Costa.
Prior to the signing of the three agreements, President Arroyo accorded President Ramos-Horta full military honors upon his arrival in Malacaņang at around 10 a.m.
She escorted Ramos-Horta inside the Palace after which the two leaders held a bilateral meeting.
According to Romulo, the two leaders engaged in "friendly discussion" as President Arroyo and President Ramos-Horta "are old friends from way back."
Romulo said that in the expanded bilateral meeting, the two leaders pledged their countries' support for each other in their different undertakings.
He pointed out that Timor Leste has thrown its allout support behind Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago's bid to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) while the Philippines will support the bid of Timor Leste for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by 2012.
"Timor Leste, through President Jose Ramos Horta, has reiterated to the President its support for Senator Santiago's bid to the ICJ," Romulo said.
"We (Philippine government) continue to support them and hope that by 2012, they can be a member of ASEAN," he added. (PIA-MMIO) [top]