The Strategic Partnership, inked by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the Prime Minister’s visit to Manila on September 8, marks a significant step toward strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries.
Australia and the Philippines have announced a strategic partnership that includes joint patrols in the contested South China Sea. This agreement represents a significant upgrade in diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Australia’s Prime Minister, on his visit to Manila, reiterated strong support for the Philippines’ President in rejecting Beijing’s attempts to redraw territorial boundaries, asserting that such actions are in violation of international law.
President Marcos expressed his gratitude, stating, “A word of thanks to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the strong support that you have shown for the Philippines, especially during the recent ASEAN conference. Your clear stance, which underscores that the claims being made on our Philippine maritime territory lack validity and international recognition and are inconsistent with international law, is deeply appreciated.”
Boosting bilateral ties
In addition to this reaffirmation of support, Prime Minister Albanese unveiled a series of significant initiatives.
“Educational and institutional links will continue to play a key role in our bilateral relationship. And I am pleased today to announce that we are doubling the number of Australia Awards Scholarships available to students from the Philippines,” the Prime Minister stated.
Commencing in 2024, more than 50 scholarships will be granted to Filipinos for pursuing Master’s and PhD programs in Australia, fostering invaluable people-to-people connections.
The Australian National University will re-establish a dedicated Philippines Institute as part of Australia’s commitment to enhancing relations with Southeast Asia. This initiative aims to cultivate partnerships between academic institutions, facilitating a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives and interests.
The Philippines and Australia have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a visa program that enables citizens from both nations to pursue employment opportunities while enjoying their vacations in the host country.
Under the Work and Holiday Visa arrangement, a visitor to Australia or the Philippines will be granted a visa and the opportunity to work for up to one year. They will also be allowed to enter and exit the country during that time.
Australia and the Philippines have been development partners for more than 50 years.
Australia is also providing assistance to the Philippines for environmental improvement.
As a commitment to regional stability, Australia will allocate a significant $64.5 million to support peacebuilding efforts in conflict-affected Mindanao. Over the course of five years, this program will work towards reducing violent conflicts, reintegrating former combatants, and promoting community development, with a specific focus on empowering women.
Reactions from Filipinos
Many Filipinos eagerly anticipate expanded opportunities for study, work, and travel in Australia following the new Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by the Philippine President and Australian Prime Minister.
Thirty-five-year-old Gemma from Manila is hopeful that more job opportunities will open up for Filipinos in Australia during the visit of the Australian leader to the Philippines.
“I hope there will be more job opportunities for Filipinos because many are unemployed in our country. I hope there are jobs available for those who have completed trades and vocational courses.”
Australia will also expand opportunities for Filipinos to visit Australia. This is a welcome development for Mark, a Filipino IT worker, especially with the recently signed Work and Holiday Visa Arrangement between Australia and the Philippines.
“We need solid allies not only to defend ourselves but also to discuss opportunities like trade and employment that can benefit Filipinos.”
Source : sbs