Aquino holds separate bilateral meetings with Singapore, Chile leaders-A A +A
Saturday, September 8, 2012
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III held separate bilateral meetings on Saturday with his counterparts in Singapore and Chile at the sidelines of the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting in Russia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, in a press briefing in Vladivostok, said that Aquino thanked Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for his support to the Philippines' claim in the West Philippine Sea.
"Singapore has committed to continue its support in terms of a peaceful resolution of the disputes in accordance with international law, including Unclos. And they also expressed the need for Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to strengthen its solidarity and centrality in being able to reinforce the importance of Asean being an entity that would promote peace and stability in the region," he said.
Del Rosario also said that aside from discussing the West Philippine Sea issue, the President and his counterpart also talked about the current global economic challenges.
Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, all members of the Asean, have overlapping claims in the resource-rich sea. China claims sovereignty over almost its entirety.
The Philippines had a standoff with China over Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc.
Asean foreign ministers failed to move ahead on the West Philippine Sea issue at a regional ministers’ meeting in Cambodia in July, preventing the regional block from producing a joint communiqué for the first time in its 45-year history.
Meanwhile, Aquino and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera agreed to strengthen cooperation to develop their respective geothermal and mining sectors during their bilateral meeting.
Chile expressed its interest in learning from the Philippines and possibly enticing more Filipino companies to invest in its geothermal undertakings, Del Rosario said.
The Philippines is number two in using geothermal energy in the world.
In turn, Del Rosario said the Philippines is seeking cooperation with Chile to learn the best mining practices in that country, particularly in the area of responsible mining.
Also during the same media briefing, Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said Chile already has geothermal investors from the Philippines and Chile is happy with these Philippine companies.
The Energy Development Corp. (EDC) of the Philippines is already operating in Chile.
"The President basically requested that we increase the number of or the volume of investments and interaction between Philippine companies or the Philippine government and the Chilean government regarding geothermal energy," Almendras said.
Pinera was surprised that the geothermal developments in the Philippines were already fully privatized while Chile looks at increasing government participation in those development projects, Almendras said.
"We are going to be sharing with them some of the frameworks or the structures that we have developed in the Philippines that has become very encouraging for private companies to into geothermal energy," he said.
Chile, having tremendous potential in geothermal energy, has asked the Philippines to help it develop a regulatory framework that will encourage private sector participation in geothermal development projects in Chile, Almendras said. Chile wants an immediate discussion with the Philippines to craft such guidelines, he added.
Almendras said the Foreign Affairs Minister of Chile told him that he is going to instruct the Ambassador of Chile to the Philippines to immediately start discussions next week to spearhead the initiative.
Finance Secretary Ceasr Purisima, on the other hand, said that Pinera has invited Aquino to visit his country.
The President expressed interest in studying Chile’s best practices in taxing its mining industry.
Chile, the world’s largest exporter of copper, had revised its mining taxation scheme, recognizing the volatility of mineral prices in the global market, Purisima said.
"The President and the President Pinera of Chile both noted the commonality between the two countries—a shared heritage—and, in fact, that’s the reason why the President of Chile expressed his desire to work closely with the Philippines to further Chile’s economic relationship with Asia and the Pacific," he said.
Del Rosario said Chile and the Philippines also agreed to increase cooperation on aquaculture development and education, by sending Filipino teachers to Chile. (SDR/Sunnex)