Prime Minister Harper of Canada leads wreath-laying rites at Rizal Monument in Manila
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper paid his respects to the country's national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal on the second day of his official visit to the Philippines which is aimed at further strengthening the long-standing bilateral relations between the two countries.
In simple yet solemn ceremonies, Prime Minister Harper led the wreathlaying ceremonies at the foot of the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park, Manila where he was welcomed by Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino, and Philippine Navy Flag Officer in Command Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, the event’s military host.
The Canadian leader was accompanied by his wife Laureen Harper and other members of his official delegation.
Prime Minister Harper arrived in Manila on Friday evening for a three-day official visit. Also part of his official delegation were Canadian Minister for International Trade Ed Fast, Minister for Natural Resources Joseph Oliver, Senator Tobias Enverga Jr., who is the first Filipino-Canadian senator, and 10 Filipino-Canadian community leaders.
The Prime Minister’s visit to the country is the highest-level visit of a Canadian official in the last 15 years. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that the last Canadian leader to visit the country was Prime Minister Jean Chretien who brought a business delegation in the country in 1997.
Canada is one o the most active trading partners of the Philippines which is considered as the major source of its immigrants and overseas workers. To date, there are at least 800,000 Filipinos residing in Canada.
Following the wreath-laying ceremonies, Prime Minister Harper was set to meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III and members of the Cabinet to discuss the “upward trajectory” of the Philippines-Canada bilateral relations which was established back in 1949.
The two leaders are also scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding between the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Commercial Cooperation on government-to-government transactions in defense and military-related procurements.
Prime Minister Harper is on the second leg of an Asian trip following his visit in India. His group will be leaving on Sunday morning for Hong Kong. PND (jcl/11:00 a.m.)
President Aquino welcomes visiting Prime Minister Harper of Canada to Malacanang
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomed visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper with arrival honors in Malacañang on Saturday.
A 19-gun salute was rendered to officially honor Prime Minister Harper’s visit during the playing of the national anthems of both countries.
Canadian Prime Minister Harper, who is in Manila for a three-day official visit, arrived at the Malacañang Palace grounds at around 10:30 a.m.
Other members of the Cabinet who joined President Aquino in welcoming Prime Minister Harper and his wife included Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Arsenio Balisacan, Metropolitan Manila Development Chairman Francis Tolentino, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma Jr., and among others.
The President then ushered Harper, who was accompanied by his wife Laureen Harper, into Malacañang Palace for the traditional signing of the Palace Guest Book.
The visit of Prime Minister Harper marks the highest-level visit of a Canadian official in the last 15 years. In 1997, then Prime Minister Jean Chretien brought a business delegation to the Philippines.
In an earlier statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the two heads of government are expected to discuss the upward trajectory of Philippines-Canada bilateral relations. Among the issues that are expected to be on the table are the deepening of people-to-people ties, increasing commercial relations, and progress in the governance agenda of the Aquino Administration.
President Aquino and Prime Minister Harper may also discuss the gains in the Philippine peace process, particularly the newly signed Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, the DFA said.
During the visit, President Aquino and Prime Minister Harper will also witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Philippine Department of National Defense and the Canadian Commercial Cooperation on government-to-government transactions in defense and military-related procurements.
The MOU will ensure the smooth and expeditious procurement transactions with the Canadian government’s assurance on the quality of equipment from and compliance with procurement contracts by Canadian companies. PND (js)
President Aquino fetes visiting Prime Minister Harper of Canada to a luncheon at Malacanang Palace
President Benigno S. Aquino III hosted a luncheon for visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Malacanang on Saturday as he expressed hope that the Canadian leader's visit would further strengthen the relations between the two countries.
In his message during the luncheon at Malacanang, the President said that despite the limited contacts between the two countries in previous years, the Philippines and Canada were able to achieve and maintain their strong relations.
The last time a Canadian leader visited the Philippines was in 1997, the President said.
The President noted that when his late mother, former President Cory Aquino assumed office in 1986, Canada was one of the first countries that supported the post martial law era leadership. He added that President Cory Aquino was also the first Philippine president who made an official visit to Canada.
According to the President, Canada is a consistent Philippine partner through the years most importantly in people-to-people exchanges.
“Excellency, we in the Philippine government welcome this chance to deepen our engagement between our countries,” he stressed.
“There is much that we can do together for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” the President said adding that both countries could develop stronger ties particularly in defense and trade and investment.
In response, Prime Minister Harper said he hopes for another visit of Canadian leaders in the Philippines in the future as he acknowledged the importance of the Philippines and the Asian region in the long term plans of Canada.
The Canadian leader noted that at present, Asia is bringing prosperity and hope for mankind.
“That is why we are here and we are so determined to continue to build upon various aspects of our relations,” Harper said stressing that part of their visit to the country is to recognize the importance of people-to-people relationships between Canada and the Philippines.
He told the President that the Filipino Canadian community is the fastest growing community in Canada.
Prime Minister Harper also said that presence of Filipinos in Canada is extraordinary because they spread liberally in Canada and they can be found even in the farthest and remotest areas.
People-to-people relationship is a tremendous development for Philippine-Canadian relations, Harper said. In this connection, the Canadian leader underscores the need for both countries to capitalize on this relationship in order to create stronger trade and investment ties.
Prime Minister Harper also extended his best wishes to the Aquino family notably their significant contributions for Philippine democracy and development.
Harper and his delegation arrived in the Philippines Friday evening and they are expected to go back to Canada Sunday morning. PND (as/1:41pm)
Philippines, Canada sign Memorandum of Understanding on defense cooperation
The Philippines and Canada signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation Saturday during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Philippines.
President Benigno S. Aquino III and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Government-to-Government Transaction in Defense and Military-related Equipment, Materials and System and/or Services in Malacanang Saturday.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Canadian Minister of International Trade Ed Fast signed the MOU.
In his statement during the joint press conference, President Aquino said he hopes that the memorandum of understanding on defense and procurement of military equipment would help the country’s efforts in building its defense and security capabilities.
The President said his meeting with Prime Minister Harper and his delegation was very fruitful expressing his optimism that their engagement will continue to expand in the coming years and will remain beneficial to both countries and to the whole Asia Pacific region.
President Aquino said the fundamental issue on the country’s military capabilities is that it has a lot of outmoded equipment that needs to be modernized.
For instance, the Philippines needs additional modern ships or patrol vessels to guard 36,000 kilometers of coastline within its 200-mile economic zone.
Currently, the Philippines has 132 ships, mostly from the World War II era and even older, he said stressing the country’s extreme need for more patrol vessels.
The same is true with the country’s air force and its airlift capabilities, according to the President said. He said that at present, the air force has only two C-130 cargo planes that serve as its work horse and additional planes must be added to its inventory.
Because of the MOU, the Philippines can have access to the expertise and skills from Canada with great value for money to satisfy the legitimate needs for military equipment, the President said.
The Chief Executive said that aside from having stronger defense cooperation, he hopes the Philippines and Canada improve trade and investment for the benefit of the two countries.
Harper arrived in Manila Friday evening and is expected to return to Canada Sunday morning. PND (as/2:14pm)
Aquino discusses labor, trade with Canadian Prime Minister Harper
President Benigno S. Aquino III said he has discussed several issues during his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper such as labor cooperation, Mindanao development and trade and investment.
In his statement during the joint press conference, President Aquino said that given the large number of overseas Filipinos migrant workers in Canada, the government has an obligation to guarantee their protection and welfare and to ensure that they follow Canadian labor requirements.
The presence of an estimated 800,000 Filipinos in Canada compels the Philippine government to work closely with the Canadian authorities, the President said.
This number represents about 10 percent of the 10 million Filipinos living or working overseas, the President noted.
Aside from tackling labor and mobility, the President said they also talked about increasing trade and investment ties between the two countries.
“Canada recognizes the economic gains resulting from our commitment to good governance, integrity, and transparency, manifested in the reforms we are implementing in the Philippines. We look forward to increasing trade and investment with Canada,” he said.
The Philippines is open for business under his management, according to the President and Harper’s visit is recognition of the change of atmosphere in the Philippines.
Things that hindered the development of Philippine-Canada ties in the past, under the new leadership, it will cease to exist, he said.
“We are very optimistic of growth not only in more people-to-people ties, but more importantly, perhaps, in trade and business opportunities that will redound to the benefits of both our people,” the President said during the joint press conference.
Also, the Canadian Prime Minister expressed optimism over the Bangsamoro Framework agreement, as the Canadian leader relayed his commitment to support the peace process in Mindanao. Canada is one of the Philippines’ partners in promoting peace and development in Mindanao.
Harper and his delegation arrived in the Philippines Friday night and they are expected to return to Canada Sunday morning. PND (as/2:45pm)