Commentary: The making of PGMA’s state visit to New Zealand and Australia
Tacloban City (May 29) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo embarks on a state visit to New Zealand and Australia, believing that open engagement with the region and the world is an essential component of a modern vision for the Philippines.
Her contention is that the Philippine government must continue to aggressively engage the world in order to modernize, bolster its security and attract new investments to lift up its poor.
The Administration’s focus is on continued economic reform: pro-growth, pro-trade and pro-investment strategies, that will help lift up the people from poverty and help the Philippines in its assertion as a real investment destination.
Fresh from her visit to Japan which advanced the interests of the nation and brought in more private investments, more government aid and greater support for peace and security, President Arroyo’s visit to New Zealand is viewed as an opportunity to not only reaffirm the country’s close diplomatic ties, increase security cooperation, closer cultural relations but also a chance to encourage the expansion of investments in the Philippines, especially in the mining sector.
Tooled with the good news that the country’s economy is on a permanent path of growth and stability and the best value in Asia with its strong peso, low inflation, robust stock market, rapid inflows of foreign investment and an educated and hardworking people, the President will meet private investors and businesses interested in locating in the Philippines and promote the benefits of investing in the Philippines.
The President will meet with Prime Minister Helen Clark, a leader in interfaith dialogue and cooperation and a prime catalyst of greater understanding among peoples of all faiths in the region, a vital component of the country’s peace initiatives in Mindanao.
In Australia, the highlight of the President’s meeting with Prime Minister John Howard is the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a defense cooperation agreement between the two nations. The SOFA will help professionalize the Philippine Armed Forces by providing new equipment and strengthening its fight against terrorism.
The SOFA, similar to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, provides the basis for the entry of Australian troops into the Philippines and vice-versa for training and capacity-building and their full participation in the Balikatan joint military exercises.
Australia will also provide the AFP, under the watercraft vessel program, 30 aluminum-hulled fast vessels to be used in the rivers and marshlands of Mindanao to prevent the movement of terrorists. (PIA 8) [top]