MoU to boost food basket initiatives
By Azrol Azmi

A raft of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Brunei and the Philippines yesterday as Philippines President Benigno S Aquino III began his two-day State Visit. The two countries signed MoUs on Food Security and Agriculture Cooperation, Field of Shipping and Ports, Tourism Cooperation and Sports.

In a Joint Statement following a four-eye meeting between His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines president, His Majesty acknowledged the importance of promoting food security amid the challenges brought about by the volatility of commodity prices.

His Majesty expressed appreciation to the Philippines for its assistance in Brunei's rice production and food security goals. Both leaders welcomed the signing of the MoU on Food Security and Agricultural Cooperation. They recognised the MoU as a means for the two countries to advance their ongoing cooperation in agriculture and food security by pursuing activities in support of food basket initiatives of the BIMP-EAGA, agriculture, fisheries, food processing and Halal industry.

President Aquino expressed appreciation for Brunei's unwavering commitment to achieving lasting peace and security in Mindanao, notably through the participation of Brunei in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in southern Philippines, and the deployment of additional peace monitors since 2010.

His Majesty assured President Aquino that Brunei would continue to support such peace initiatives in southern Philippines.

President Aquino also thanked His Majesty for the assistance given to the Philippines for the construction of the Grand Mosque which will serve as a centrepiece of the Islamic and Civic Centre in Cotabato City and conveyed an invitation to His Majesty to visit the Philippines and for the mosque's inauguration. His Majesty thanked the president for the invitation and expressed pleasure on its completion.

His Majesty expressed pleasure over the excellent progress in bilateral ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1984, strengthened by regular visits of officials from both countries at all levels. Both leaders reaffirmed the long-standing relations between Brunei and the Philippines, reflecting the close historical, political, economic and cultural ties between the two countries.

Both also reaffirmed their desire to further deepen and expand their relations based on mutual respect and understanding with a view to helping each other, not only in their respective national development efforts, but also in addressing regional and global challenges.

His Majesty expressed appreciation for the valuable contribution of Filipino nationals working and living in the Sultanate and private companies participating in Brunei's economy. The president thanked His Majesty for the hospitality and opportunities extended to the Filipino community and businesses in Brunei Darussalam.

His Majesty also welcomed the president's invitation for Brunei to participate in the Philippine Government's Public-Private Partnership (PPP) programme aimed at developing the country's infrastructure, including projects in the energy sector.

His Majesty expressed his appreciation to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for their participation in the Brunei International Tattoo 2011 currently held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces. His Majesty also extended his warmest appreciation to the Philippines and the AFP for its confirmed participation in the Brunei International Defence Exhibition (Bridex 2011) and the Fleet Review scheduled to be held from July 6-9, 2011.

Both leaders recognised the importance of shipping and ports to the development and expansion of regional trade and economy, and the need to secure and maintain adequate, efficient, economic and reliable shipping and ports services at stable prices.

In this regard, the leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) concerning cooperation in the Field of Shipping and Ports, which aims to facilitate cooperation between Brunei and the Philippines, and to stimulate mutual investment and other forms of economic activity.

Both leaders also welcomed the signing of the MoA on Tourism Cooperation to promote and develop the sector in both countries. The leaders expressed belief that the MoA will help expand existing cooperation in new areas based on the principle of mutual benefit.

The leaders also welcomed the move to expand bilateral cooperation to include cooperation in the field of sports, which promotes healthy competition and sharing of best practices, and there welcomed the signing of the MoU.

Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the 18th Asean Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 7-8, 2011. They both agreed on the need to further intensify consultation and coordination in efforts towards realising an Asean Community in 2015 and in maintaining and enhancing peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) as a milestone document signed between Asean and China embodying the collective commitment to promoting peace, stability and mutual trust in the South China Sea.

They expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the visit and concluded that this has further strengthened the already close relations between Brunei and the Philippines.

The Philippines president expressed his sincere appreciation to His Majesty and the Government and people of Brunei for the warm and generous hospitality and kind reception accorded to him and his delegation during the State Visit and looked forward to receiving His Majesty in the Philippines. - Borneo Bulletin (2nd June 2011)