NZ lauds PH-MILF accord

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2012 01:37 PM | Updated as of Oct 24 2012 02:13 AM

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (UPDATE 1) - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key congratulated President Aquino for the signing of framework agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Asked by media if his government is ready to reevaluate its travel advisory against travel in areas in Mindanao given this development, Key said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will reflect the changes in the security environment but is leaving it to the proper agencies to decide.

“I am sure that our officials would take on board the signals that we are getting, recognizing the great work that the President has done in the signing of the peace accord. If that is certainly going to be the case, I’m seeing a much safer environment and then I am sure that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will reflect that and change the rating but we leave that for them to advise New Zealanders,” Key said in a joint press conference.

Aquino said the Philippines is safer than many other countries, citing the ability of security forces to “thwart” terrorist threats and solve problems.

He said neighboring countries that have had experienced terrorist attacks have gotten less warning that what was given on the Philippines.

“We are safer than many other countries. We will not say that we are in a Garden of Eden that it’s perfect. Even a Garden of Eden had a snake come to think of it,” Aquino said.

“We will have our share of crime… Metro Manila, for instance, has a population of 14 million. Like in any other big city, it will have it ills. But our security forces have demonstrated time and again their ability to thwart acts of terrorist violence,”

Key said it Mindanao “is part of the overall investment profile” and that investments in Mindanao are possible.

2 OTHER AGREEMENTS SIGNED

Other bilateral agreements that were forged during the state visit include:

· An arrangement on a working holiday scheme that will provide 100 temporary entry (12 month) visas in each direction to New Zealand and Philippine citizens aged between 18-30. In promoting people-to-people exchange, this scheme aims to promote cultural understanding and to promote tourism.

· An arrangement on geothermal energy cooperation between the two governments that will provide a formal government-to-government framework to support commercial geothermal development between both countries.

A business deal was signed between the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) of the Philippines and GNS Science where the latter will provide technical services in the field of geothermal energy development.