• Spain vows support to Duterte govt

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    A top-level Spanish delegation reiterated Spain’s support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda and lauded the peace initiatives with insurgent groups as well as his campaign against illegal drugs.

    In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, the delegation led by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ignacio Ybanez Rubio relayed Spain’s interest in investing in projects on energy, infrastructure and telecommunications.

    They said Spain is “more than ready to cooperate with the Philippines” on the implementation of its big-ticket infrastructure projects, particularly in building railways and in the areas of transportation, energy and telecommunications.

    The members of the delegation also informed Dominguez of Spain’s “great interest” in Duterte’s programs, particularly his war against illegal drugs. Spain, they added, is also supportive of the Philippines’ peace process with insurgent groups.

    Ybanez said Spain wants to be more engaged in Asia. “This is a very clear determination from the government as a whole and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry Commerce,” he added.

    The members of the delegation said they understood “very deeply” the Philippines’ concerns. “You can count on us on whatever you need,” Ybanez said.

    Dominguez, in turn, explained the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which include accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital development and social protection. The administration, he said, aims to slash poverty, promote a law-abiding society, and develop a country that is at peace with itself and with its neighbors.

    To attain economic growth to areas outside Metro Manila, he said government must increase its spending on power, agricultural productivity, roads, airports and connectivity, which amounts to infrastructure investments of $180 billion over the next six years.

    “The government is also allocating a huge amount of money to education and other social services,” Dominguez said.

    Under the 2013-2016 Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation, the Philippines is the only priority country of Spain in Asia.

    As of April this year, data from the National Economic and Development Authority show that Spanish Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines amounted to $29.93 million.

    Joining the meeting with Dominguez were Spanish Ambassador to Manila Luis Antonio Calvo Castano; Emilio De Miguel Calabia, Executive Director for the Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Philippines of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; Ramon Maria Moreno Gonzalez, Director General of Casa Asia, and Pedro Pascual Fernandez, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Spain.

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