“We have turned the corner on our economy,” proudly declared the Philippines President Arroyo, who was in Singaporeboth on a state visit and for the World Economic Forum.
This week, Arroyo continues the promotion of a new image of the Philippines.
Her focus in the state visit was to strengthen the economic relations between the two, particularly trying to attract Singaporean capital to invest in the Philippines. She explained, “We are a good business environment getting even better. Many international investors agree. We hope Singapore businesses will also agree.” In Singapore, she met with both President Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Beside encouraging investment, she also agreed to start new talks to liberalise air travel between both countries. The Philippines government has been trying to increase the number of tourists to 5 million by 2010. This agreement to liberalise air travel is also part of the ASEAN-wide efforts to liberalise air travel within the region.
Apart from the economic aspect, she agreed with PM Lee to look into a status of forces agreement (SOFA). This agreement would help strengthen the campaign against terrorism and other transnational crimes. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo explained that the two leaders wanted the SOFA, which may allow joint military exercises, to be concluded soon by their respective defense ministries.
Both Singapore and the Philippines also discussed the wider regional development. In their meeting, Singapore President Nathan noted that ASEAN had its fair share of growing pains over the years but “we have always displayed our solidarity when situations demanded.”
President Arroyo also met with the Filipinos community in Singapore. (There are an estimated 120,000 Filipinos in Singapore). The meeting was primarily to allay concerns over the rising peso which reduces the value of remittances sent home by these migrant workers. She said, “Our efforts are paying off. You must understand that the strong peso helps check inflation and the global rise in the prices of oil, and other basic commodities abroad.”
She also paid tribute to the contribution of the overseas Filipino workers (OFW), saying, “Overseas Filipino workers are honored by the government and the people, your sacrifice and dedication to your work, your family and your nation. We welcome your contribution.” (28 June 2007)
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PGMA to OFWs: Look at the brighter side of economic gains (PNA, 26 June 2007)
Arroyo cites reforms to woo S'pore investors (Straits Times, 26 June 2007)
Less red tape for investors: Arroyo (Today, 26 June 2007)
GMA vows to transform RP - SINGAPORE(via PLDT) (Manila Bulletin, 26 June 2007)