New Zealand Offers Police Training to RP; Accords on Trade, Security & Environment OK'd
Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (via PLDT) -- New Zealand offered yesterday to train Philippine police and military on the observance and protection of human rights amid concerns about the spate of political killings in the country.
New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark told President Arroyo that her government is ready to allocate portion of its "development assistance budget" for the human rights education initiated by the NZ Human Rights Commission for Philippine security forces.
The two women leaders met for nearly an hour behind closed doors at the Parliament House that included discussions on the need to strengthen human rights institutions in the Philippines.
In other developments:
1. The Philippines and New Zealand sealed two bilateral accords on fighting terrorism and transnational crimes as well as protecting natural resources and wildlife areas.
2. The two countries agreed to explore new avenues of trade such as a possible air services agreement and the development of the Philippine dairy industry.
The start of President Arroyo's three-day state visit has been marked by protest at parliament over alleged human right abuses in the Philippines.
Around a dozen protesters gathered outside New Zealand's parliament to demonstrate against the political violence as Clark hosted a lunch for the visiting President. They were also calling for the release of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran who has been jailed for 16 months on charges of sedition.
"I am pleased to note that our respective Human Rights Commissions have begun a dialogue, and are exploring ways in which New Zealand might share its experience and support the work of its Philippines counterpart," Clark said in a joint press conference with President Arroyo here.
"An initial area of cooperation is likely to be in support of human rights- based training for the Philippine police and defense forces," she pointed out.
Clark said the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has already met the Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Purificacion Quisumbing in Geneva, Switzerland about the technical assistance package.
She said New Zealand's initiative was in response to President Arroyo's invitation to foreign governments for help in resolving the political killings through cooperation between their respective human rights commissions
President Arroyo was not able to see the protest on human rights abuses in the Philippines since she was having lunch at the Parliament building but she was open to questions about it during the press conference.
Mrs. Arroyo said she shares the same devotion of Clark in upholding human rights as she reiterated her commitment to put an end to wave of political killings in the country.
"We are in a fight to turn around our history of political violence and retribution like our economic turnaround, we are slowly surely steadily breaking down the cycle of violence," she said.
In the course of her visit in New Zealand, the President will speak today before the 3rd Asia-Pacific Interfaith Dialogue at the northern town of Waitangi.
Arroyo will join Clark, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, in the annual dialogue seeking to find ways to reduce religious conflict following the 2002 Bali bombings.
RP, New Zealand seal 2 bilateral agreements
By GENALYN D. KABILING
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (via PLDT) ---- The Philippines and New Zealand yesterday sealed two bilateral accords on fighting terrorism and transnational crimes as well as protecting natural resources and wildlife areas.
President Arroyo and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark witnessed the signing of the two agreements on law enforcement cooperation and enviromental protection after their bilateral meeting at the Parliament House here. …