EU to arrive in PH, boost support for Mindanao peace processBy Fat Reyes
MANILA, Philippines – A delegation from the European parliament will be in the Philippines this week to explore business opportunities in the country and boost the European Union’s (EU) support for the Mindanao peace process, the EU’s office in Manila said in a statement Monday.
The delegation led by Werner Langen, chairman of the European parliament for relations with the countries of the Southeast Asia and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), will be in the country from February 11 to 15.
During the visit, the delegation hopes ”to learn about the positive developments taking place in the Philippines that have created opportunities for new European investment in the fast-growing Philippine economy,” the statement said.
They were also scheduled to meet with Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, and representatives from the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss business and investment ties.
Most of the visiting parliamentarians, the statement noted, were members of powerful economic committees.
“The European Parliament visit underscores EU support for President Benigno Aquino III’s good governance and anti-corruption efforts that are making the country more attractive to European investment,” it said.
EU Ambasssador Guy Ledoux, in a separate statement, said the parliamentarians would be participating in activities to boost EU’s support for the peace process in Mindanao.
The delegation, he said, would be traveling to Mindanao from February 13 to 14 to meet with officials from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the International Monitoring Team, and non-government and civil society organizations.
Ledoux, in his statement, also highlighted the delegation’s participation in the launch of an EU demining project in Cotabato City.
“This project benefits from a grant of P29 million and is part of on-going European Union support for de-mining efforts in Mindanao. It aims to reduce the threat from landmines and unexploded ordinances and will be implemented in collaboration with both the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front,” Ledoux said.
The Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL), the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, and the EU had earlier said in a joint statement that the project would bring experts and would identify and clear suspected hazardous areas in 21 municipalities in Maguindanao, Cotabato, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur. It would cover a total of 450, 629 hectares inhabited by 814, 651 people.
The EU had also said that it would continue to provide development assistance to the Philippines, noting that around P2 billion in aid would be specifically focused on projects for Mindanao and the health sector.
The European parliamentarians were also scheduled to meet with House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Senator Edgardo Angara, Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to “strengthen bilateral relations across the board,” the statement added.
Aside from Langen, the delegation includes Vice-Chairman Robert Goebbels (committee on industry, research and energy, Luxembourg), Vice-Chairman Ivo Belet, (committee on industry, research and energy, Belgium); Roger Helmer (committee on employment and social affairs Petitions, UK); Barbara Weiler (committee on internal market and consumer protection, special committee on organized crime, corruption and money laundering, Germany); Sławomir Nitras (committee on economic and monetary affairs, Poland); and Adam Bielan (committee on internal market and consumer protection, Poland).