President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. tackled cyber security, water management, defense technology transfer and government aid during his bilateral talks with five European countries in his recently concluded visit this week in Brussels, Belgium.
The said meetings happened on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-European Union Commemorative Summit.
Marcos met with leaders of Estonia and The Netherlands to discuss digital transformation and cyber security.
He sought aid from both countries on how to boost the protection of national digital systems against online attacks.
Estonia Prime Minister Kaja Kallas invited the President to visit her country so she could share their “key strategies” in digitizing government processes and addressing cyber attacks.
For his part, Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte discussed the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the military in his talk with the President.
Both state leaders also talked about water management amid the ongoing extreme weather incidents, including harsh draughts, due to climate change.
The President said the experience of The Netherlands on the matter could help the government in its policies related to water supply.
“We are actually trying to decide whether or not to form a new agency just for water management. That seems to be right exactly within the area of concern of the Philippines,” Marcos said.
Rutte urged Marcos to participate in the conference they will hold for AI and climate adaptation, which he said are priority issues for The Netherlands and the Philippines.
Marcos also talked about defense with Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Fiala, particularly for a possible technology transfer.
The transfer, the President said, can help ramp up the country’s “defense production abilities” and help in the ongoing modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
“What would be even more interesting is besides just the equipment, would be the transfer of technology from your country to mine so that you are able to produce [in our own country] some of the material that is now being provided by other countries and perhaps use…make the Philippines a center for all that, the logistics,” Marcos said during his meeting with Fiala.
The President also spoke to Spain President Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, who assured the country is among its “priority country” for its assistance programs, pledging various initiatives.
Pérez-Castejón said they are supporting the ongoing local efforts to ensure peace in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“The Spanish cooperation in Muslim Mindanao…especially this region, [the] Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, [is] where we try to provide institutional support and strengthen the dialogue,” the Spanish leader said.
During the Asean-EU Commemorative Summit on Wednesday, Marcos stressed the crucial role of the large market and technical expertise of European countries in the pandemic recovery of Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines.