Diplomatic ties

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


FORGING a friendly relationship between citizens is a unique exchange of goodwill between two nations. Who initiated this, or whose idea it is to start a so-called Working Holiday Scheme (WHS) between the Philippines and New Zealand deserves a collective salute from both nations.

The agreement will start today, when citizens of the two countries with ages 18 to 30 years old can apply for a special visa. The joint agreement would allow the visa-holder of either nation to stay and work or study for one year in the country, respectively, under the program which is the first of its kind for our country, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

The agreement--signed on the part of the Philippines by DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and on the side of New Zealand by Foreign Minister Murray McCully--was entered into by both nations in October 2012.

The agreement may be viewed as an experiment intended “to generate closer people-to-people understanding and goodwill through tourism, cultural and educational exchanges and short term employment and allow young participants from the Philippines and New Zealand to experience firsthand the thriving way of life in the communities and engage more closely with the local people in each other’s country.”

The WHS will approve only 100 applicants at a time. However, knowing how our Filipino youth welcomes such opportunities to work or study abroad, I believe limiting the number of applicants over a 12-month period would not be enough. I estimate the DFA would eventually be hard-put to control the influx of applicants who would like to avail of the opportunity to go to New Zealand.

And I believe that it would be a similarly the same situation in New Zealand when there would be a rush, too, of New Zealanders.

The program initiated by the two countries is simply something that has not been done yet in our part of the globe. I believe that if the “experiment” would succeed, mutual agreement among the other nations of the globe would proliferate.

But I think that 12 months are not enough to develop the intended goal of the diplomatic relationship. Perhaps, a minimum of two years would be good enough to attain the intended purpose of the WHS, as it would offer more leeway for friendly relationships to bloom, and for those who study or work establish deeper ties.

At any rate, the agreement is truly a “significant milestone” in the Philippine-New Zealand bilateral diplomacy. It is something that I did not know had earlier been struck until I read the report in yesterday’s issue of this daily.

That it was done without much fanfare, is a good sign that there was no political under-current involved in the bigger or wider plain of the national interest between the two nations. Such a matter disdains manipulation and secret deals.

The way things look, the Philippine-New Zealand bilateral ties is one of genuine relationship between two friends who are close and open to each other.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 05, 2014.

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