Rody: Philippines will honor Paris climate treaty if...

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte assured the US government yesterday that the Philippines would recognize the agreement of cooperation reached during the Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France last year as long as it will be fair to all.

Duterte conveyed the message to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who paid a courtesy call on the President in Malacañang.

Duterte and Kerry later had a working lunch where they discussed major issues, including ways to strengthen ties between the US and the Philippines through the Enhanced Development Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).

Kerry cited the importance of the Paris treaty.

“They also touched on climate change and Mr. Kerry was helpful in defining certain issues about the Paris pact and the President also responded appropriately when he said that the Philippines will work out just as long as everything is fair,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said after the courtesy call.

Prior to Kerry’s visit, Duterte said the Philippines could not attain its full development and industrialization if it will commit to the Paris treaty, which limits the carbon emissions of developing countries.

Since he plans to put up industrialized areas, Duterte slammed developed countries for putting a gag on developing countries when they wantonly destroyed the environment on their way to progress.

US aid for crime campaign

The US has vowed to provide $32 million to support the Duterte administration’s intensified law enforcement efforts.

Washington’s support for law enforcement activities was one of the topics Duterte and Kerry discussed.

“The US committed $32 million in training and services,” Abella said in a press briefing.

It remains unclear what specific programs will be funded by the US. There is no information also on whether the training will cover maritime law enforcement in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and other territorial waters.

Abella confirmed that Duterte had also briefed Kerry about his crackdown against illegal drugs and crime.

Human rights protection

Kerry underscored the protection of civil and human rights in ensuring a safe society.

He said the US and the Philippines have broader agenda than just the question on the South China Sea.

The Philippines and the US, he said, continue to work together with other countries in the region on law enforcement, regional security and combating transnational crimes like human trafficking. 

“I made very clear that civil and human rights need to be protected even as we work to keep our society safe,” Kerry said in a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. following the Philippines-US Bilateral Meeting held at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Kerry is the first foreign minister to call on Duterte.

The two countries also work together on countering violent extremism. 

“Unfortunately, the Philippines is no stranger to the threat of terrorism. This nation has been managing these threats by groups like Abu Sayyaf for some period of time and our nations work very closely in order to counter those threats,” he said.

Yasay said the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty has been a cornerstone of security in the region for decades. 

Kerry said the EDCA would not only help to coordinate efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region, but it also allows the US to provide rapid assistance to the Philippines in the event of an emergency. It enables the US to preposition humanitarian relief supplies.

“The EDCA agreement will also expand opportunities for our militaries to train together and that will help modernize the AFP and increase their effectiveness in responding to 21st century threats,” he added. 

He said the President committed to Kerry that agreements between the Philippines and the US would be fulfilled and respected. - With Alexis Romero, Pia Lee-Brago

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