Aquino talks OFW, disaster with Euro leaders
MANILA, Philippines – The welfare of overseas Filipino workers, disaster risk reduction, and maritime security were the center of President Benigno Aquino III’s meetings with European leaders.
Aquino met separately with leaders of Norway, Switzerland, and the European Commission and European Council in Ventiane, Laos on Monday, November 5. The meetings were held on the sidelines of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9).
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said the meetings were aimed at increasing opportunities and strengthening cooperation between the Philippines and the European countries and groups.
Aquino first met with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, discussing the working conditions of migrant Filipino workers, especially those in the healthcare sector.
“Norway confirmed its assurance for support in our efforts to land better jobs for Filipino migrant workers particularly in the healthcare sector in Norway and the easing or procedural improvements to create better opportunities for qualified Filipino workers,” Coloma said.
Norway is home to over 12,000 Filipinos, according to the website of the Philippine Embassy in Norway. Filipinos work as nurses, engineers, and government workers, among others.
Norway is also a third party facilitator in the talks between the Philippines and the National Democratic Front. Coloma, however, did not say if the negotiatons were discussed in Aquino’s meeting with Stoltenberg.
In all his meetings though, European leaders congratulated Aquino for the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Mutual support for global bids
Aquino met with Swiss Confederation President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf to thank her for Switzerland’s help in disaster risk reduction and management.
The President also held a trilateral meeting with European Council President Herman Von Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
The meeting focused on improving maritime security in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) to ensure the safety of goods and people passing through the area.
Coloma said Norway, the European Commission and the European Council pledged their support for the Philippines’ bid to retain its standing in the white list of the International Maritime Organization.
“This means that we will keep complying with all the requirements of the standards for training and certification watch-keeping of seafarers,” Coloma said.
The Philippines in turn expressed support for the bid of Norway and Switzerland to become members of the ASEM. Aside from the two countries, Bangladesh will also be admitted into the forum at the ASEM 9 in Laos.
ASEM kicks off
Following the 3 meetings, Aquino attended the ASEM group photo session, and the ASEM opening ceremony.
Aquino is also set to attend the plenary session focusing on economic and financial issue, to be followed by dinner for the heads of state.
Established in 1996, ASEM is described as a dialogue process that aims to forge ties between Asia and Europe. It is composed of 48 partners – all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), 9 other Asian countries, the 27 member states of the European Union, the European Commission, and the ASEAN Secretariat.
The Philippines is a founding partner of ASEM. – Rappler.com