MANILA — Governments of the Philippines and Indonesia on Monday declared to further strengthen the fight to protect migrants and migrant workers.
President Benigno Aquino III, after his meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo Monday, said the issue about the plight of migrants and migrant workers is among the highlights of their discussions.
”Indonesia and the Philippines both have a significant number of nationals overseas, and it is in our mutual interest to work closely with one another to protect our migrants wherever they may be in the world,” he said in his speech after the meeting with Widodo, who is on his first state visit to the Philippines from February 8-9, 2015.
Migrant workers are among the top drivers of the Philippine economy for some decades now.
Share of inflows from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) is about 10 percent of domestic growth and remittances are among the major factors on the robust consumption spending in the country.
Relatively, Widodo, in his speech noted the Philippines’ bid to help the plight of people working and living outside of their motherland.
”I also appreciate Philippine’s involvement in the protection of migrants and migrant workers,” he said.
During Widodo’s state visit, the two governments inked four agreements focused not only on migrant and migrant workers but also on greater support for vocational training and wider cooperation on education as well as enhanced fight against drug trafficking.
Aquino said the Philippines and Indonesia are archipelagic countries, thus, “closer cooperation and coordination between our two countries in maritime affairs is vital.”
”Having found success in delimiting our exclusive economic zones, we are more encouraged to further improve our approach to maritime boundary delimitation, border cooperation, and cooperation in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or IUUF under the scope of the Philippines-Indonesia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation or JCBC,” he said.
Increased trade and investment agreements were also given emphasis.
Aquino said they also inked an agreement on defense cooperation, possible roll-on/roll-off arrangements for both countries’ ports, and Indonesia’s continuing role in the Philippines’ peace process.
He said his meeting with Widodo “filled me with optimism” pushing his belief for closer partnership between the two countries.
”In his few months in office, President Widodo has demonstrated his strong commitment to inclusive growth, an idea that has always served as my administration’s north star. I am thus incredibly eager to work closely with His Excellency, given the vision we share for our respective peoples,” he added.
Relatively, Widodo, in his speech said, he welcomes “the resumption of the negotiation on the continental shelf border and also the review of the border agreement and also the border patrol agreement which was agreed in 1975.”
Both countries have over-lapping claims on some islands in Mindanao Sea, Celebes Sea, and Philippine Sea but have agreed to peacefully resolve the problem for them to reap the benefits of this cooperation.
Widodo also invited Aquino to attend the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference to be held in Jakarta and Bandung, Indonesia from April 22-24, 2015 as well as the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be held in Bali this year.