Foreign Minister announces $8.6m plan to improve lives of women, girls in Philippines

New Zealand will contribute to an initiative to improve the lives of indigenous women and girls on the Philippines second-largest island, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.

During a visit to the capital, Manila, this week, Peters has met President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Senate President Francis Escudero.

As part of efforts to build a stronger ties between the two countries, he announced:

  • The establishment of a new development initiative (worth $8.6 million over five years) to improve the lives of indigenous women and girls in Mindanao, including through more representative decision-making systems and stronger resource management processes
  • The signing of a mutual logistics supporting arrangement between the New Zealand Defence Force and the Philippines Department of National Defence
  • An arrangement between the Philippine Anti-Red Tape Authority and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise on ease of doing business and more efficient government
  • New Zealand’s $245,000 contribution to the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity

After their meeting Manalo thanked New Zealand for its development support to the Philippines, including the new package of support to improve health, education, and livelihoods for residents of Mindanao.

Peters and Manalo also backed having a comprehensive partnership between both countries by 2026.

The plan was announced by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Marcos, after the former’s visit to Manila in April.

It would mark the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations and aiming to increase two-way trade by 50 percent by 2030.

The New Zealand and Philippines leaders also pledged to bolster defence ties – making it easier for their armed forces to work together – as tensions rise in the Indo-Pacific.

Defence was also on the agenda for Manalo and Peters as they discussed opportunities for expanding trade, investment and defence cooperation, including the negotiation of a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement in 2024. They welcomed the signing of the Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.

During his visit to South-East Asia, Peters has been to Vietnam and Malaysia and is also due to spend some time in Timor-Leste.

Winston Peters, Philippines Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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