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Palace won’t confirm date of Hollande visit

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said yesterday it was aware of the preparations for the upcoming visit of French President Francois Hollande to the Philippines but would not confirm the date, saying it is the embassy or the Department of Foreign Affairs that would make the formal announcement.

“I understand that the special representative of the French president is here to prepare for an upcoming visit... Normally, it will be the embassy to announce it here or as confirmed by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over dzRB.

According to a representative of the French president, the visit will be on Feb. 26-27.

Based on a report by the Agence France Presse, Hollande will visit typhoon-ravaged areas in the Philippines as well as meet with President Aquino in February to build momentum for crucial climate change talks to be hosted by France this year.

Hollande hopes his visit would give a human face to climate change, as the Philippines bears the brunt of dozens of deadly storms every year, including the strongest on record, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in November 2013, reports said quoting Nicolas Hulot, Hollande’s special envoy for the environment.

Details of Hollande’s Feb. 26 to 27 visit were still being worked out, Hulot said.

In preparation for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris in December 2015, Hulot visited the country from Jan. 20 until yesterday.

From Manila, Hulot traveled to Tacloban City, Leyte and Guiuan, Eastern Samar, two of the areas most devastated by Yolanda in 2013.

He also visited the reconstruction projects in Daanbantayan, Cebu led by the France-Philippines United Action, a consortium of French companies in the Philippines engaged in reconstruction efforts.

Appointed by Hollande in 2012, Hulot’s mission as Special Envoy for the Protection of the Planet is to reach out to different communities in tackling energy and climate challenges and promoting the implementation of innovative policies to address these challenges.

His tasks also include informing the public and contributing to the preparations for COP21.

As early as last year, Hollande had disclosed plans to visit the Philippines this year during a meeting with Aquino, who was in Paris in September.

He said France would explore other areas where it could be of help to boost the Philippine economy, and vice versa.

The two leaders also discussed climate change as they noted the destruction left by Yolanda.

“And we have expressed France’s solidarity vis-a-vis the Philippines, but at the same time we have agreed that in the context of the preparation of the climate conference (here next year), France and the Philippines should work together,” Hollande said in September.

ABIGAIL VALTE

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

CLIMATE CHANGE

CONFERENCE OF PARTIES

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

DETAILS OF HOLLANDE

EASTERN SAMAR

HOLLANDE

HULOT

PHILIPPINES

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