MANILA, Philippines – He’s eyeing at least 6 countries for the rest of the year.
President Benigno Aquino III has bared his scheduled foreign destinations this year, which includes a trip to the United Kingdom related to a “substantial investment” in the energy sector of the Philippines.
Mr Aquino told reporters over the weekend that his first foreign destination this year is Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in April, and that he will return to that country in November for the Asean Summit and Related Summits.
The President said he will go on an official trip the US, immediately followed by a trans-Atlantic flight to the UK for a working visit “in May or June.”
The final dates for both trips would depend on the final date of his US trip, which is still being worked on by the US government.
Asked why he is going to the UK, Mr Aquino said, “There’s a substantial investment in energy.”
He also said that he would go to the UK from the US “so that the trip would be shorter,” apparently as opposed to a UK trip from the Philippines, and that he would fly back to Manila from London.
In November, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had conveyed to Mr Aquino the invitation of US President Barack Obama to visit his country this year.
The President said he will also go to Australia and New Zealand, upon the invitation of those governments, but did not say when this would take place.
He will go to Vladivostok in Russia for the 24th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit in September.
Asked if he can attend the canonization ceremony of Philippine saint Pedro Calungsod in Rome in October, Mr Aquino said this will depend on his schedule, and noted that October is a busy month for the national government in view of deliberations on the proposed 2013 budget around that time.
The President said if he goes to Rome, he would be obliged to accept standing invitations from other nearby countries such as Spain, Belgium, and Germany.
He said it would be better if he visits Belgium and Germany once there are no more issues between the Philippine government and firms based in those two countries, namely Belgian firm Baggerwerken Decloedt & Zoon (BDC) and Germany’s Fraport AG.
“We are not done yet in terms of Fraport of Germany and BDC of Belgium….It has to be a visit that will be a very pleasant visit for all of parties concerned,” he said.
In his first few months as Chief Executive, Mr Aquino ordered the cancellation of the government’s contract with BDC for the P18.7-billion Laguna Lake rehabilitation project. Palace officials had earlier said that the project would have to be “reconfigured” to benefit the concerned community.
In September last year, BDC was reported to have filed a P4-B lawsuit against the Philippine government before the Washington-based International Center for the Settlement of Investments Disputes.
Fraport is the foreign partner of the Philippine International Air Terminals Corporation (Piatco), the builder of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. – Rappler.com