Clinton Signs New US-Phil. Agreement During Manila Visit

Clinton Signs New US-Phil. Agreement During Manila Visit

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MANILA, Phils., -- The Philippines and United States on Wednesday signed the Partnership for Growth (PFG) agreement that is expected to “help the Philippines break into the ranks of the world’s high-performing economies."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario signed on behalf of the Philippines while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed on behalf of the US. The signing, held in Malacañang, was witnessed by President Benigno Aquino III.

The signing officially launched the implementation phase of the economic initiative.

“Just now, here, I officially launched the U.S.-Philippines Partnership Growth — a rigorous, result-oriented collaboration to help the Philippines break into the rank of the world's high-performing emerging economy and achieve sustainable world based growth that would benefit all of the people of this country," Clinton said after the signing.

She said Filipino leaders have laid the ground work for the implementation of the Partnership for Growth (PFG) by making reforms to improve transparency and tax collection and create more inclusive prosperity in the country.

The Philippines is the only one in Asia to be included in the PFG initiative and one of the four pilot partner countries selected by the U.S.

Partnership for Growth

The PFG initiative is a joint Philippine-U.S. undertaking promoting and supporting broad-based economic growth of emerging markets like the Philippines. It aims to assist selected countries to achieve higher and sustained economic growth through a more transparent, predictable, and consistent legal and regulatory regime.

PFG also supports a more open and competitive business environment, assists countries to strengthen their rule of law that is grounded in an efficient court system as well as supporting their fiscal stability.

“The United States wants to support these pro-growth reforms and help unlock the Philippines’ best economic potential to improve the lives of your own people, to drive regional prosperity, and to create more high-paying jobs so fewer Filipino citizens have to travel distant countries to support their families," Clinton said.

She said a team from the US will come to the Philippines to work closely with Filipino officials to help improve the Philippine economic landscape, to make it attractive to investors, and to strengthen the rule of law as well as to fight corruption.

“Together, we hope to deliver an array of benefits to the people including more foreign investments to create new jobs, a more streamlined court system that can deliver justice and protect local businesses, better services and more resources to fight poverty," the former New York senator said.

Clinton said that over time, these steps will better position the Philippines to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, seen to dramatically increase trade and investment among the peoples of the Pacific.

The selection of the Philippines as a PFG partner country in January 2011 was based on the country’s track record in partnering with the U.S. government and its potential for continued economic growth.

The PFG initiative is an effort to put into practice U.S. President Barack Obama’s presidential policy directive on global development.

Order of Lakandula

Before the signing of the agreement, Clinton had an expanded bilateral meeting with President Aquino, who later conferred on Clinton with Order of Lakandula with rank of Bayani.

The Order of Lakandula is an order of political and civic merit awarded in memory of Lakandula’s dedication to the responsibilities of leadership, prudence, fortitude, courage and resolve in the service of one’s people. It is conferred upon a Filipino or foreign citizen who has demonstrated by his life and deeds a dedication to the welfare of society and has a life that is worthy of emulation by the Filipino people.

The Grand Cross or Bayani rank conferred on Clinton is being given to individuals who have devoted their lives to the peaceful resolution of conflict and to individuals whose lives are worthy of emulation by Filipinos.

It is also being awarded to a crown prince, vice president, Senate president, Speaker of the House, chief justice or the equivalent, foreign minister or other official of cabinet rank, ambassador, undersecretary, assistant secretary, or other person of a rank similar or equivalent to the foregoing.

“I’m grateful for the people of the Philippines for the Order of Lakandula. This is an honor that I will always treasure," Clinton said in thanking the President and the Filipino people for the award and warm welcome.

Clinton, who arrived in Manila on Tuesday, also joined the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). She signed a Manila Declaration together with Del Rosario also on Wednesday.

Clinton’s visit is her second trip to the Philippines as a U.S. Secretary of State, the first was during the Arroyo administration. -- KBK, GMA News