His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
For the press conference with Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste
[Delivered in Malacañan Palace on June 6, 2013]
Your Excellency, Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão; members of the press; members of the Timor-Leste delegation; ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of the Filipino people, I welcome Your Excellency, the Prime Minister, and the delegation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Your Excellency, your visit comes at a very important time for our nations, as we focus our efforts in fostering greater cooperation and solidarity in Southeast Asia.
On this note, allow me to express the Philippine’s support for Timor-Leste’s bid to join the ASEAN community. We look forward to working more closely with you in the future in advancing regional dialogue, which we know will redound not only to the growth of our peoples and our countries, but will also contribute to the stability and continued development of our region.
Over the course of eleven years, the Philippines and Timor-Leste have worked hand in hand in pursuing strategies that will turn this very vision of mutual prosperity and peace into tangible realities for our peoples. Timor-Leste has also stood as a reliable partner of the Philippines in times of disaster. On behalf of the Filipino people, I would like to thank the, His Excellency, the Prime Minister and the Timor-Leste peoples for the 750,000-dollar assistance extended to us for the victims of typhoon Pablo. The kindness that Timor-Leste has shown will always be remembered by the Filipino people.
The discussions the Prime Minister and I had this morning affirm our dedication to strengthen the relationship between our two nations, particularly through engagements in education, defense, infrastructure development, and trade.
Today, we witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine Normal University and the Government of Timor-Leste, the objective of which is to enhance the training of Timorese teachers. This is part of our efforts to deepen cooperation in education between our nations. I have also been informed that thirty-two of the more than one hundred Timorese scholars in the country have finished their studies here and have returned to their country to share the insights that they have gained in the Philippines with their countrymen. With twenty more scholars graduating this year, we look forward to welcoming more Timorese nationals to our shores to learn from our finest institutions.
In defense, the Prime Minister and I share the same commitment to conduct military consultations and to exchange intelligence that is vital to maintaining peace and security in our part of the world. This is in keeping with the Joint Declaration on Military Cooperation, which was signed by both our governments last year.
On the economic front, it is my pleasure to say that trade between the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, from 2011 to 2012, almost tripled. This is a positive sign of our robust partnership. And with the signing of the agreements on infrastructure development and capacity building, among others, we open more doors of opportunity for both our peoples, empowering them to take part in further building a more equitable, more progressive Southeast Asia.
Your Excellency, the peoples of our region not only share a rich history; more importantly, we are bound by common aspirations. It is by working together that we realize the potential of our nations and of our region. Our meeting today signifies that our peoples are determined and ready to achieve these dreams.
It is my hope that the rest of your stay here will be enjoyable, insightful, and productive.
Thank you, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen.