The Philippines and Belgium agreed to firm up diplomatic and economic ties under the Joint Action Plan signed by the two countries in 2013, Malacañang said.
President Aquino and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, in a bilateral meeting at the Lambermont building in the Belgian capital on Thursday, agreed to further strengthen ties and cooperation between their two countries, as the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest, the Palace said.
“The Prime Minister and I acknowledged the need to deepen our cooperation within the framework of our Joint Plan of Action, which was signed by our foreign ministers in 2013,” President Aquino said in a Palace statement released on Friday.
Mr. Aquino added that he and the Belgian leader “both look forward to seeing the realization of concrete initiatives related to this plan, which will, without doubt, strengthen our partnership in the years to come.”
At the same time, Mr. Aquino briefed the Belgian leader on the Philippines’s Triple Action Plan dealing with issues related to conflicting territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“On matters related to regional security and stability, I have informed the Prime Minister of our country’s Triple Action Plan in addressing the concerns in the South China Sea, the sea known by many names in our part of the world,” Mr. Aquino said, referring to the West Philippine Sea that shares borders with China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam.
He explained that the Triple Action Plan proposed by the Philippines provides the framework for easing tensions brought about by various activities of competing claimants in the expansive South China Sea.
The Philippines, he said, had been calling for a full and effective implementation of the Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, the expeditious conclusion of a legally binding Code of Conduct, and the implementation of a settlement mechanism that will bring disputes to a final solution grounded on international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The President also took the opportunity to personally convey the Filipinos’ gratitude “for the generous humanitarian assistance that the people of Belgium extended to us in the wake of Supertyphoon Haiyan.”
Locally named Yolanda, Haiyan hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013, killing thousands of people in Eastern Visayas and causing massive damage to infrastructures along its path.
“A reliable friend and development partner, Belgium stood in solidarity with us during a time of extreme difficulty, and it is with sincerity that I thank you on behalf of the Philippines,” Aquino told Di Rupo, even as he also thanked Belgians for the hospitality extended to thousands of Filipinos living and working in Belgium. “May the friendship that has bonded our people grow even deeper, as our citizens work hand in hand toward building a more prosperous Belgium,” Aquino added.