Gov't to spend P44-M for Aquino's Australia, NZ state visits
MANILA, Philippines - The government has allocated P44 million for President Benigno Aquino's state visits to Australia and New Zealand.
A total of 96 officials will accompany him, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said Sunday, October 21.
The budget is expected to cover transportation, accommodation, food, equipment, and other expenses for the entire presidential delegation.
He is visiting the two countries upon the invitation of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday, October 17.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, among other officials, will accompany the President.
The President will discuss foreign policy, defense and trade issues as well as the recent signing of the Framework Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
His first stop is New Zealand, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in an interview Sunday.
Aquino will then proceed to the capital, Wellington, to meet with Prime Minister Key and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.
After New Zealand, Aquino will travel to Australia, where he will meet in the capital, Canberra, with Prime Minister Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
The President is expected to brief Gillard on the latest developments regarding the Philippines-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA), signed in 2008 but only ratified by the Senate last July.
In both countries, the President is scheduled to meet with members of the Filipino community, she said.
"Sa Friday na po ang balik ng Pangulo at saka ng kanyang official delegation. That would be on the 26th," she said. - Rappler.com