P-Noy meets Kevin during the 65th year of Australian-Philippine bilateral relations. This article from the Philippine Star (22 October 2011) which mentions this meeting being responsible for P-Noy in being late in his next meeting.
MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino candidly admitted yesterday that his discussion with a “Chinese-speaking” Australian foreign minister made him 30 minutes late for his next appointment, because they talked extensively about the disputed Spratly Islands.
Aquino apologized at the launching of the diagnostic center of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) on East Avenue, Quezon City, saying that the courtesy call of Kevin Rudd in Malacañang took longer than expected.
Rudd used to be prime minister of Australia. He arrived in Manila on Thursday for a two-day official visit.
It was Rudd’s first official visit to the Philippines since he was sworn into office on Sept. 14, 2010.
“We also have a varied relationship with them (Australian government) especially in diplomacy, issues on the West Philippine Sea, etc.,” the President said, adding he took the opportunity to take up the Spratlys issue to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.
The Philippines and Australia cooperate in such fields as trade, defense, disaster risk management and education. Aquino revealed that Australia has promised to help build 5,000 classrooms next year.
The visit of the Australian official is one of the highlights of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Australia, which is being commemorated this year.
Aussie’s helping hand
On the side, Rudd promised Australia would contribute $31.5 million to the BRACE Program (Building the Resilience and Awareness of Metro Manila Communities to Natural Disasters and Climate Change Impacts) to help provide around 9,000 people with safe housing and access to water, sanitation and community disaster-preparedness training.
Rudd visited Taguig City yesterday where Australia will help provide around 9,000 people with safe housing and access to water, sanitation, roads and electricity, while also assisting with broader land-use planning and community disaster-preparedness training.
BRACE and Australia will also work with local organizations, such as the internationally renowned Gawad Kalinga, which provide cost-effective, safe housing for the poor.
“In genuine partnership with Taguig City and organizations such as Gawad Kalinga, we are investing in practical measures to ensure Filipino communities are safer and more disaster-resilient. It is hoped Taguig will serve as a model for other cities in Metro Manila,” Rudd said.
The BRACE Program is being piloted in Taguig City and will assist city planning with state-of-the-art digital elevation maps to model risks and vulnerability from flooding, earthquakes and high wind.
BRACE will also assist with the rehabilitation of major drainage canals and waterways that will potentially benefit tens of thousands of the poor in Taguig.
“The Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to natural disasters in the world, with an average of 20 typhoons making landfall annually, five to seven of which are destructive,” Rudd added.
“Recent disasters, such as typhoons ‘Quiel’ and ‘Pedring’ which have killed 101 people, affected 4.2 million, and left an initial damage bill of $333 million, reinforce the terrible cost of natural disasters in the Philippines. While we cannot stop earthquakes, typhoons or flooding rains, we can act to limit the loss of life, hardship and economic damage they regularly cause,” he said. – Pia Lee-Brago