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Aquino to talk of good governance, economic growth in European trip

President Benigno Aquino III. Photo by RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III will parade his government’s program for good governance as a foundation for good economics when he embarks on a four-nation European trip from Sept. 13 to 20.

Besides his meetings with top European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Mr. Aquino will get his opportunity in three major policy speeches he is to deliver in Belgium, France, and Germany.

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Assistant Foreign Secretary for European Affairs Marie Zeneida Angara-Collinson said the President would discuss proposals on how the Philippines intended to make its relationship with these countries “look like and to be in the future.”

“The Philippines is in an enviable position to do this because of our very good economic performance. And this will be a theme that will resonate with these countries because they are looking at also revving up their own economies,” she said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Philippines has been riding on the momentum of a fast-growing economy that has led to higher credit ratings, accomplishments the administration attributes to its mantra that “good governance is good economics.”

Save for Spain, the first stop of Mr. Aquino’s European trip and which has shown promising signs of recovery, much of the region’s economies have performed poorly.

Collinson described the Philippines as a “very, very attractive proposition at the moment” for European investors, citing its 7.2-percent economic growth despite Supertyphoon “Yolanda” last year.

Mr. Aquino’s effort to curb corruption in government would also be a “very important theme” of his visit, Collinson said.

“The good governance measures that have been put in place, that have paved the way for our economic performance over these last couple of years, [they’re] going to be a very important theme,” she said. “In fact, I don’t want to preempt, some of the [European] leaders had said they would state this recognition directly to the President when he visits.”

In Brussels, the President will deliver a speech at the Egmont Institute on the Philippines’ “enduring partnership” with the European Union “based on shared values of democracy and the rule of law.”

Mr. Aquino will also speak at the French Institute for International Relations in Paris, then at the Körber-Stiftung Foundation in Berlin.

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During the trip, the President will seek Europe’s support for Manila’s proposed triple action plan to settle territorial disputes in the South China Sea, part of which the Manila government calls the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines wants claimant countries to cease any activity that could raise tensions in the area. It also seeks a Code of Conduct governing disputed region and wants conflicts resolved through international arbitration.

Mr. Aquino will also brief officials and other parties in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, and the European Union on developments in the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

He is set to transmit to Congress on Wednesday a draft Bangsamoro Basic Law, which would pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

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TAGS: Angela Merkel, Aquino, Bangsamoro basic law, Benigno Aquino III, European Commission, European trip, François Hollande, French Institute for International Relations, French President, German Chancellor, Jose Manuel Barroso, Körber-Stiftung Foundation, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Paris, President Aquino
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