6 RP-Canada Anti-Crime, Economic Accords Signed; Agreements Finalized by Arroyo, Chretien
Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING
OTTAWA, Ontario, Canada (Via PLDT) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won yesterday the partnership of the Canadian government in the fight against transnational crimes, particularly against weapons smuggling, as the two leaders forged six bilateral agreements to strengthen the two nations economic and national ties.
One of the six agreements signed by the two governments confirmed the co-hosting of a seminar on how to combat small arms and light weapons smuggling which poses a threat to peace and security among nations.
President Arroyo, along with First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and the Philippine delegation, arrived here yesterday for a two-day state visit to Canada.
At the Parliament Hill, President Arroyo met with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and finalized the six agreements that focused on trade and the anti-crime efforts of both countries.
The two leaders agreed to host a seminar on the implementation of the United Nations (UN) program of action to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in small and light weapons. The seminar on the campaign against arms smuggling will be held in the Philippines in April this year. It will involve non-government organizations and officials from the Southeast Asia and other interested countries.
"This is going to help our agremeent with our neighbors in Southeast Asia because we have agreed to find ways to stop the smuggling of small arms within our common borders and common seas," the President said in a joint news conference held at the Parliament Hill.
In the agreement, both countries recognized arms smuggling as a "serious threat to peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability, and sustainable development."
The two countries also signed a treaty on the transfer of sentenced persons and on cooperation in the enforcement of penal sentences.The treaty will remain in force for three years and shall be automatically renewed for additional periods of three years unless a country seeks its termination.
The Philippines and Canada also forged an agreement on the reciprocal offer of scholarships that allow citizens of high academic standing from Canada and the Philippines to undertake graduate studies, postgraduate studies, or post-doctoral studies in the other country.
"The Prime Minister said that many schools in Canada are just as good, if not better, than the schools in the United States where many of our students go. I hope this exchange will enable more of our students to enjoy the benefits of Canada excellent education," she said.
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will provide $10 million over the next five years in an agreement to help small and medium-sized enterprises contribute to economic growth in the Philippines.
The CIDA pledged to contribute another $7 million over the next five years to support the Philippine Supreme Court's Action Program for Judicial reform. The judicial reform program aims to foster transparent and accountable governance through a more effective judicial system.
A letter of intent on e-governance for efficiency and effectiveness project was also signed to promote cooperation on Information and Communications (ICT) between the Philippines and Canada. Over the next five years, Canada will pour in $8 million to strengthen the capability of key government operations and the delivery of services to the public.
Another $1 million will be given to Dr. Parouk Hussin, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, by CIDA for the speedy development of the self-rule region.
The visiting President admitted being happy over the result of the meeting with Chretien.
"We had a very productive bilateral talks, frank and candid. I believe the goals which have been set for my visit here have been met," she said.
Chretien welcomed the new cooperation agreements with the Philippines. …