BRUSSELS—Lauding the Philippines’ fast-rising economy, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 16) that European assistance would increase from 130 million euros to 325 million euros.
Van Rompuy said the aid would focus on “judicial and legal reform, sustainable energy, and job creation,” noting that the Philippines is “an engine of growth in its region and will progressively raise millions of people from poverty.”
“In this context I pay tribute to President Aquino’s good governance agenda,” he said in a joint press conference after their meeting at the European Council headquarters here.
Van Rompuy cited the importance of fighting corruption, a centerpiece program of the Aquino administration.
“The fight against corruption remains a key issue,” he said. “Democracy indeed goes well beyond elections and the rule of law and respect for human rights are in the heart of it.”
Aquino said he and Van Rompuy agreed that it was “high time for us to build an even more strategic partnership.”
Such partnership would not only involve “aid and trade” but would also allow the Philippines to “lay the foundations of a future teeming of opportunities for our peoples, one where no one is left behind.”
Van Rompuy said the European Union was now studying Aquino’s invitation to monitor the plebiscite scheduled next year to ratify a new Bangsamoro law that would govern a new autonomous region in Mindanao.
“The European Union supports the peace process in Mindanao and I would like to take this opportunity to commend the President for his pivotal role,” he said.
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