Canada to continue supporting Philippines
- Pia Lee-Brago () - April 15, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Despite the federal budget cuts ahead of the renewal of the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) programming for the Philippines, Canada has affirmed that it will remain a “strong supporter” of the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Philippine Ambassador to Canada Leslie Gatan called on Minister of International Cooperation Beverley Oda last April 3 at CIDA office in Gatineau City, Quebec to strengthen bilateral development cooperation in sustainable economic growth, governance and other priority areas aligned with the Philippine Development Plan.

“How can Canada help?” was both the question and offer posed by Oda, which set the tone for the meeting between the Philippine embassy and CIDA.

Government efforts to maintain democracy and address accountability issues, she said, have given rise to a favorable Canadian disposition toward the Philippines.

Oda welcomed the government’s efforts to build capacity and believed the Philippines is on the “right track” toward sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

For his part, Gatan conveyed the Philippines’ gratitude for the emergency humanitarian assistance extended to flood victims of tropical storm “Sendong” in late 2011.

In response, the Philippine embassy said Oda lauded the Philippine government for “responding quickly” and for having developed “a good system of civil defense down to the grassroots level.”

Following Gatan’s briefing on the Philippines-Canada two-way trade as well as the positive developments and challenges to the Philippine economy, Oda commended the performance of the Philippines as a development partner of Canada, relative to other beneficiary countries of CIDA. 

She also noted the significant contribution of the Filipino-Canadians to the Philippine economy in terms of money transfers, comprising about 20 percent of the total US$20.1 billion in remittances by overseas Filipinos.

Gatan underscored the importance of aligning CIDA priorities with the Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016) to create more synergies, leading to projects with greater impact.

Oda manifested openness to other areas of cooperation besides the traditional focus on governance and sustainable economic growth.

Among the possible areas explored were demand-driven curricula for a more productive workforce, food and agriculture (cold storage for Philippine produce), the Philippines’ participation in trade fairs abroad, capacity and technical training to enable economic growth environment, and urban migration planning. 

Oda assured Gatan that CIDA would work on developing new initiatives in the Philippines after a review of the country program.

The idea of a “Philippine Fund” was also raised given the large Filipino community in Canada, which could be tapped as a source of both business venture and funding. 

Oda explained that while CIDA itself cannot build railways, roads, and bridges, Canadian companies may do so and explore more public-private partnerships to accomplish the task.

Oda also looks forward to future projects in the Philippines to espouse economic growth and create more jobs and help enhance the business environment to provide added credibility and accountability that is bound to attract more foreign investments into the country.

CANADA LESLIE GATAN CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY CIDA DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS FOLLOWING GATAN GATAN GATINEAU CITY ODA PHILIPPINE PHILIPPINE DEVELOPMENT PLAN PHILIPPINES
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