Manila: President Benigno Aquino has arrived in the Philippine capital after a six-day visit to Australia and New Zealand where he was able to secure a number of investment and job opportunity arrangements for the Philippines.
Foremost among the arrangements secured by Aquino during his visit to New Zealand is a “working holiday scheme”, which would allow Filipinos to work and study in New Zealand for three months if they have working holiday visas and vice versa.
“Under this working holiday scheme, Filipino students can study while working in New Zealand and vice versa,” Aquino said.
He said another agreement he was able to secure was a commitment from New Zealand firm GNS Science to share its expertise in geothermal energy.
Both countries have rich resources in geothermal energy resource but New Zealand was able to develop this energy from the ground ahead of the Philippines.
“Working with GNS Science will be the Philippines’ Energy Development Corporation to improve our knowledge and expertise in the field of geothermal energy utilisation,” the President said.
The Philippines is highly dependent on imported oil for its fuel and energy production requirements. Geothermal energy provides a long-term solution to the country’s fossil fuel woes as it is renewable as well as cheap.Currently, the country has two major geothermal energy sources, one in Makiling-Banahaw and another in Tiwi, Albay in Southern Luzon.
Aside from energy development and other partnerships, the president announced the signing of an agreement with New Zealand to enhance defence cooperation and information sharing.
In Australia, the president announced plans by the firm Atlantic Gulf and Pacific to expand its operations in the Philippines. He said this would create more jobs for Filipino skilled workers.
Aquino also said an Australian company, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Asset, is interested in taking part in a project to construct an expressway that will connect with Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
The president also announced the planned expansion of shipbuilding firm Austal, of its business in the Philippines. An expected 1,000 new jobs in Cebu is expected to emerge from this project. Telstra, a telecommunications company,Aquino said, has plans that which will create up to 4,000 new jobs.
During his meetings with leaders of the two countries, Aquino thanked New Zealand and Australia for their continued support for the Philippines, especially in the development of Mindanao and in helping the country in times of calamities or disasters.