President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, May 16, received Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Malacañan Palace, where the two leaders witnessed the signing of an agriculture cooperation that would further boost food security in both countries.
Prime Minister O’Neill arrived at 5pm in Malacañan and was accorded with arrival honors.
He was greeted by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella, Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde.
After the welcome ceremony, Prime Minister O’Neill was then ushered to the Reception Hall for the traditional signing of the Palace guestbook. This was followed by a restricted meeting at the Music Room, and an extended bilateral meeting at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room.
President Duterte welcomed the delegation from Papua New Guinea and thanked Prime Minister O’Neill for accepting his invitation to visit the Philippines when they met in last year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam.
“In our bilateral meeting, we extensively discussed defense and security cooperation, trade and investment relations, agriculture cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges,” President Duterte said in a joint press statement.
“In the pursuit of greater peace, progress, and prosperity for our peoples, we have realized that we have to do more together to ensure what we want to achieve and the goals reached. There must be translated into actions the sustained projects and tangible results that can be measured,” he added.
Following the extended bilateral meeting, President Duterte and Prime Minister O’Neill witnessed the signing of the Joint Declaration on Agriculture Cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
The Joint Declaration was signed by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol and Hon. Benny Allan, Papua New Guinea Minister for Agriculture and Livestock.
The Joint Declaration signifies the share commitment of the Philippines and Papua New Guinea to expand and strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation in the field of agriculture and agro-industries, particularly in areas such as rice grains and industrial crops production; aquaculture and inland fish farming; livestock breeding and improvement; and agri-business development.
“We have asked our relevant officials to negotiate and conclude at the soonest possible time an agreement that will bring our bilateral agriculture cooperation to the modern era, one that will truly be transformative and a hallmark of genuine partnership,” Duterte said.
For his part, Prime Minister O’Neill said the agriculture cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea will help ensure food security for both countries.
“We have agreed also to extend the cooperation in technical and development cooperation between our two countries where we want to see the technical skills and capacity of Filipinos who continue to build the economy to a very vibrant economy in the region so that they can also continue to train our people in our country,” O’Neill added.
“We acknowledge that we need to continue to extend our people-to-people relationship and that is an indication of the growing relationship between our two countries and the freedoms and the lawful activities that we continue to enjoy as citizens of both countries,” he further said.
PHL expresses support for PNG’s APEC Chairmanship
President Duterte meanwhile expressed the Philippines’ full support to Papua New Guinea’ chairmanship of this year’s APEC meetings.
“The Philippines is positive that under Prime Minister O’Neill’s leadership, APEC will continue to be an important forum for ensuring sustained and inclusive economic growth and development in the region,” Duterte said.
The Prime Minister then expressed his appreciation to President Duterte’s support, saying that it is Papua New Guinea’s first time to host the APEC meetings since becoming a member some 21 years ago.
“It is a regional economic bloc, significantly important to both our countries and the 21 leaders of those APEC economies will be in Port Moresby in November 2018 and we will certainly welcome the President to be with us on that occasion,” O’Neill said.
President Duterte meanwhile underscored the “strong and cordial bilateral relationship” between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
“Indeed over the past four decades, we have seen our ties steadily grow. What is different now is that the Philippines and Papua New Guinea want these ties to significantly broaden and deepen our concrete and mutually beneficial cooperation,” Duterte said.
For his part, Prime Minister O’Neill thanked President Duterte for expressing his sympathies to the victims of the recent earthquake in Papua New Guinea.
He likewise lauded the “very strong presence of the Filipino investment community,” as well as the Filipinos working in Papua New Guinea, noting that Filipino workers in his country provide good technical support, especially in terms of health and education. There are 35,000 Filipinos in Papua New Guinea.
President Duterte hosted a dinner in honor of Prime Minister O’Neill at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace following the meetings.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister went to Rizal Park offered a wreath at the foot of the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal to honor the country’s national hero. He arrived in the country on Tuesday, May 15, for a three-day official visit and will leave the country for Japan on May 17. ### (PND)