4 June 2013, Berlin – Vice President Jejomar Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Maria Cleofe R. Natividad and his delegation, met German Foreign Minister (FM) Dr. Guido Westerwelle at the Federal Foreign Office today. The two officials discussed the robust state of bilateral diplomatic relations which will see its 60th year anniversary in 2014 and closer cooperation in strategic sectors.
Vice President Binay praised the new vigor in Philippine-German relations and told FM Westerwelle that his visit is a manifestation of Philippine commitment to increase high-level exchanges with Germany. The dynamic in the relations was spurred by the visit of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario to Berlin in 2011.
VP Binay shared developments from the Philippines, from the robust economic indicators such as the GDP growth during the first quarter, the recent investment grade ratings, and the results of the recent Philippine elections which show that democracy is alive and well in the country.
The Vice President expressed satisfaction over German interest in moving the bilateral relations forward, noting the recent trip of FM Westerwelle to the Philippines as well as Labor Minister Dr. Ursula von der Leyen who was in Manila in March to witness the signing of an agreement for the deployment of Filipino nurses to Germany. The agreement, recently ratified by President Benigno S. Aquino III, is seen to be mutually beneficial – protecting the Filipino worker’s rights and addressing the needs of Germany’s aging population.
As part of his responsibility as Presidential Adviser on OFW concerns, Vice President Binay stated that he looked forward to the early implementation of the labor agreement, which should see the initial deployment of Filipino nurses to Germany in the latter half of 2013. The Vice President also expressed Philippine interest to explore the possible mutual recognition of academic qualifications with Germany.
He urged the German side to invest in the Philippines’ human capital and urged cooperation in education, particularly the dual system of vocational training. The Vice President that such cooperation is timely considering the K to 12 reform in the Philippine educational system.
FM Westerwelle praised the Philippine economy as a “powerhouse” in the region. The foreign minister recalled his recent official trip to Manila, where he called for expansion of bilateral cooperation across the board. The German foreign minister expressed satisfaction that his visit to the Döhle Institute in Manila, a maritime center which trains Filipino seafarers, had yielded in a concrete project, a roundtable discussion in Hamburg on directions for Philippine-German cooperation, including a possible “maritime strategic alliance”, where the Vice President will be the keynote speaker.
Vice President Binay spoke of the crucial role of Filipino seafarers, who account for 80 percent of officers of Germany’s merchant fleet. He welcomed cooperation with German stakeholders in the maritime sector to enhance the capacity of maritime training centers in the Philippines. The Vice President stated that President Aquino had already issued an executive order which provides the framework to ensure that the Filipino seafarer remains globally-competitive. Germany recognizes the Philippines as an important maritime nation and the central role played by Filipino seafarers in supporting maritime shipping and trade.
Both Vice President Binay and Foreign Minister Westerwelle will deliver keynote remarks for the opening ceremonies of the Asia Pacific Weeks 2013, a premier business forum highlighting Germany’s renewed interest in Southeast Asia and the Philippines, which will take place at the Federal Foreign Office on 5 June 2013.
The Vice President and his delegation from Manila, which included Honorable Francisco Tatad, Mr. Edgardo Lacson, and Ms. Milagros Lacson, arrived in Berlin yesterday as part of the first leg of his working visit to Europe’s largest economy. He was welcomed in Berlin by the ASEAN Ambassadors Committee and the Philippine Embassy staff and officers. – END –