MANILA (UPDATE) – President Benigno Aquino III has returned to the Philippines from his nearly week-long state visits to New Zealand and Australia.
The President arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at around 7 p.m. on Friday.
Upon his arrival, the President boasted of the investments coming to the country and the job opportunities these will open up.
Aquino announced the signing of several agreements with the two countries.
"Marami-rami tayong pasalubong mula sa biyaheng ito," Aquino said in his arrival speech.
Aquino said he struck a deal for New Zealand to share its expertise in geothermal energy to the Philippines, and to enhance defense cooperation between the two countries.
There's also a "working holiday scheme," which would allow citizens of one country to live and study in the other for three months if they have working holiday visas.
Meanwhile, the President signed an "air services agreement" with Australia for it to help raise the quality of the Philippines' aviation services.
The President also announced thousands of new jobs from companies that plan to expand in the Philippines.
He said a $250-million liquefied natural gas project of Australia's Atlantic Gulf and Pacific will create 1,500 new jobs in Batangas.
Austal, a shipbuilding company, will bring 1,000 jobs in Cebu, while Australian telecommunications company Telstra's planned expansion will create up to 4,000 new jobs.
Aquino said an Australian company, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Asset, is interested to bid for the NAIA Expressway project. He said the company has also partnered with the Government Service Insurance System to establish a $600-million infrastructure fund for the Philippines.
"Natutuwa tayo dahil ganadong-ganado pa rin silang makisabay sa pag-angat ng ating ekonomiya," the President said.
President Aquino also expressed his appreciation for the leaders of New Zealand and Australia for the warm welcome he and his delegation received.
He said they congratulated him for the signing of a framework peace agreement with Muslim rebels in Mindanao.
"Mainit po ang kanilang naging pagtanggap," President Aquino said. "At bagaman hinahanap-hanap natin ang lasa ng arroz caldo dahil sa lamig ng panahon doon, mala-Pilipino ang pag-asikaso nila sa atin."
Among the highlights of his trip, the President said, was meeting Filipinos in New Zealand and Australia.
While some of them were no longer hopeful about the country, President Aquino said he told them a lot has changed.
"Buong karangalan ko pong sinabi sa kanila, ibang iba na ang mukha ng Pilipinas ngayon," he said. "Tumatamasa na tayo ng pagbabago ... Pwede nang umasenso kapag sumusunod sa patakaran."
"Sa bagong Pilipinas, abot kamay na ang katuparan ng ating mga pangarap."