Scarborough row tackled in Cameron-Aquino meet

Report by Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jun 07 2012 09:33 AM | Updated as of Jun 08 2012 08:37 AM

LONDON – President Aquino believes British Prime Minister David Cameron is sympathetic to the Philippines' position in the ongoing dispute over Scarborough shoal.

Aquino was reacting to a question posed by ABS-CBN News during a brief media huddle following the one-on-one meeting between the 2 leaders at 10 Downing Street in Central London.

It was Prime Minister Cameron who raised the issue of the Scarborough shoal in the middle of the discussion with President Aquino.

This paved the way for the President to explain the country’s position on the dispute.

Aquino said Cameron did not make any diplomatic commitment as his own government is also facing similar domestic issues. The UK government is also tied up with the ongoing jubilee celebration and busy preparing for the 2012 Olympics.

Aquino said the meeting paid off as it solidified the country’s position in the sea dispute while deepening its relationship with the UK.

Both leaders agreed the territorial dispute can be resolved through peaceful means. They said the pullout of Navy vessels around the shoal is an act of goodwill between the 2 countries.

Apart from the West Philippine Sea, Aquino and Cameron also discussed peace efforts and development in Mindanao, a more expanded bilateral trade relations and mutual legal assistance treaty that facilitates information-sharing and cooperation in law enforcement to address transnational crime.

President Aquino also took the opportunity to invite Cameron to visit the Philippines. No British prime minister has ever visited the country.

Also tackled during the one-on-one meeting was the public-private partnership program.

Cameron vowed to provide expertise to the Philippines in sharing its PPP program. He said British companies should participate in such projects.

England is the biggest trading partner of the Philippines in Europe. The Brits also represent the biggest bloc of European tourists that visit the country every year.

After the historic 3-day official visit to London, his first in Europe, the President’s next stop will be Washington.