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Australia to increase dev’t assistance to the PH

QUEZON CITY (PIA) -- Australian government commits to increasing its Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines to an estimated AU$89.9 million in 2023-2024. This is to support programs including cooperation on shared priorities including inclusive economic growth, education, training and scholarships, disaster and climate resilience, and peace and stability in Mindanao.

This was announced during the bilateral meeting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong during her official visit to the Philippines on May 18, 2023.

The assistance is in addition to the AU$10.95 million commitment to support the establishment of a new immunization information system and a strengthened laboratory network and surveillance system in the country, addressing disruptions to routine immunization during the pandemic.

Moreover, both Foreign Affairs Secretary Manalo and Foreign Minister Wong recognized the two countries’ multifaceted and long-standing partnership, including ongoing cooperation in the areas of defense, maritime, counter-terrorism, peace-building, law and justice, health, science and innovation, disaster risk reduction, education and training cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges.

With that, Australia pledges a package of maritime cooperation initiatives, including technical assistance and capacity building for the Philippine Coast Guard; equipment, skills, and technology to improve maritime domain awareness and marine protection; assistance to mitigate the environmental impacts of the recent oil spill in Mindoro; and support for women’s leadership in maritime security.

Both countries also agreed to enhance the trade and investment cooperation, including exploring possible cooperation on critical minerals, and to continue exploring opportunities to improve two-way tourism. This includes strengthening people-to-people connections through the Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement being negotiated between the two countries.

The Foreign Affairs Secretary and the Minister also exchanged views on the region, including the South China Sea, and agreed on the importance of securing a region that is “open, stable, and prosperous, where sovereignty is respected and where nations abide by the agreed rules and norms.”

They both reiterated the importance of all states adhering to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with Manalo acknowledging Australia’s strong support for the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award.

Minister Wong also reaffirmed Australia’s steadfast commitment to ASEAN centrality and ASEAN-led architecture.

Manalo and Wong welcomed the Quad’s commitment to support a peaceful and stable, rules-based region with ASEAN at the center, through its efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific as well as support for the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook in the Indo-Pacific region.

Both officials are referring to the Quad, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

The two officials also look forward to continued transparent discussion on AUKUS particularly on its objective to promote peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. AUKUS is a trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the US.

Wong also met President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in a courtesy visit to Malacañang, where the Chief Executive reiterated that an enhanced partnership is extremely important for nations in the Asia Pacific given the current geopolitical situation.

President Marcos hopes that Minister Wong’s visit will add to those efforts “when we are continuing to try and strengthen all our partnerships in terms of trade, in terms of people-to-people relationship, and in security and defense.”

Coinciding with her visit to the country, the Philippine Army and the Australian Defense Force kicked off their joint military drills dubbed ‘Exercise Kasangga’ on Monday, May 16. (KSAA – PIA CPSD with information from PCO)

About the Author

Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

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