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MANILA, Philippines – Australia vowed to boost its assistance to the Philippines in various fields – from education to travel – during Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s bilateral meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacañang on Friday, September 8.
In a joint press statement between the two leaders after the signing of a memorandum of understanding, Albanese said Australia committed the following:
- Double the number of Australia Awards scholarships available to students from the Philippines
- Support the reestablishment of the Philippine Institute in the Australian National University
- Announce new reciprocal work and holiday visa agreements
- Create a new five-year program to help further reduce violent conflict, reintegrate former combatants, and improve community development livelihoods
- Support a $4.4-million collaborative research aimed at assisting the Philippines develop its own national soil health strategy
“Our histories are deeply intertwined. And our futures are true. Australia’s working with our partners including of course, the Philippines, to shape a region where sovereignty is upheld and economic cooperation is underpinned by international rules-based trade, a region that is open, stable and prosperous with ASEAN at its center,” Albanese said.
“The agreements signed and witnessed today symbolize our joint determination to enhance our cooperation among various domains. From development to cultural exchanges, these agreements represent a tangible commitment to work together for the betterment of our two nations,” Marcos said.
The details of the commitments contained in the memorandum of understanding have yet to be released as of posting.
“We have a collective responsibility for security including support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and Australia does support the 2016 South China Sea arbitral award. That’s final and binding, and it’s important it’s upheld moving forward,” he said.
“Thanks to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the strong support that you have made for the Philippines, especially during the past ASEAN conference, where you have made very clear that the claims that are being made upon Philippine maritime territory are not valid and have not been recognized and not in conjunction or consistent with international law,” Marcos said.
Albanese’s two-day standalone visit to Manila, the first in 20 years, ends on Friday.
The Presidential Communications Office said he is here to “commemorate the elevation of the Philippines-Australia relations from a Comprehensive Partnership to a Strategic Partnership through the signing of the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership. – Rappler.com