Noy, Chile leader unite vs climate change
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After traveling for 28 hours to Manila, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet turned poetic as she and President Aquino met yesterday during her state visit, wherein they committed to improve relations as well as work together vigorously in fighting climate change.

It was one of the Chilean TV journalists traveling with Bachelet who revealed how long their flight was, with a brief stopover in South Africa. The humid weather in Manila also caught them by surprise.

A minister kissed Bachelet on the cheek after the signing of an agreement at Malacañang. Aquino, for his part, mispronounced the surname of Bachelet during the toast.

“Dear President Aquino, a great poet and Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda wrote once about the ocean that turns us into brothers at a distance…He said: ‘El Océano Pacífico se salía del mapa. No había donde ponerlo. Era tan grande, desordenado y azul que no cabía en ninguna parte. Por eso lo dejaron frente a mi ventana.’  Paraphrasing: “The Pacific Ocean came out of the map. There was no place to put it. It was so big, wild and blue that it couldn’t be contained in any place. That’s why they left it in front of my window.”

“I hope that this window that looks out to our common ocean is also the window through which we see the future,” Bachelet said in her toast at the state luncheon hosted for her by Aquino.

Earlier yesterday, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada accompanied Bachelet at a wreath laying ceremony in Rizal Park.

In a joint press statement, Aquino said it was truly a pleasure to welcome  Bachelet and her delegation on her first visit to the Philippines.

“Separated though we may be by the vast Pacific Ocean, the Philippines and Chile have enjoyed warm relations for almost 70 years: relations founded on a shared history and commonalities in faith, tradition, culture and values,” Aquino said.

“In particular, Chile and the Philippines have a common experience of facing the challenges of being newly-restored democracies, after our peoples reclaimed their liberties and rebuilt their institutions, towards becoming truly vibrant democracies,”  Aquino added.

Bachelet said Chile is aiming to be considered a “bridge country” between Latin America and Asia, as she cited her country’s active participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and as one of the founders of the Forum of East Asia and Latin American Cooperation.

Bachelet said they witnessed the continued growth of the two countries’ economic relations, including the arrival of Filipino investments in Chile.

“This is why we see with great enthusiasm the progress of the study to establish a free trade agreement between Chile and the Philippines,” she said.

“But the process is complemented by a greater cultural closeness and the growing number of Filipino citizens who have chosen Chile as a place to live and develop,” she added.

“We can already recognize the kind faces and the wonderful cuisine. Rest assured, dear Filipino friends, that Chile, as its tradition and its calling, will always be a welcoming country,” Bachelet said.

Common approaches

Bachelet said her visit and participation in the APEC summit would allow them to explore not only the possibilities of closer and more fruitful economic relations but also common approaches to public policy.

“Both Chile and the Philippines have aimed at more inclusive economic development and this presents the possibility of enriching our bilateral relation through the exchange of better practices of cooperation and political dialogue in this area,” Bachelet said.

“We also have experiences to share that come from situations that unite us, such as belonging to the Ring of Fire of the Pacific,” she said. “This is why cooperation in disaster prevention and management and risk reduction is very important and a central part of the visit.”

She thanked Aquino for his “kindness, courtesy and the very warm reception” as well as for his expression of solidarity when a strong earthquake hit Chile recently.

“In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, our embassy in Santiago was overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and assistance from Chileans across society,” Aquino said.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding for greater cooperation between the Philippines and Chile in the area of disaster risk reduction and management.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; and Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz signed the MOU.

The second agreement was a letter of intent between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile on enhancing trade relations. It was signed by DTI Secretary Gregory Domingo and Muñoz.

“In particular, we are pleased to note the partnership that has been forged between the Energy Development Corp., a Filipino company, and Alterra Power Corp., a Canadian-based company that has a subsidiary in Chile,” Aquino said.  – Alexis Romero, Jose Rodel Clapano

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