Philippines and France intensify cooperation, sign agreements on key areas

From the Department of Foreign Affairs

President Benigno S. Aquino III and visiting Head of State of the French Republic, President Francois Hollande, witnessed the signing of several agreements on the protection of the environment and marine resources, higher education and research, tourism, and transportation, today, February 26, at Malacañan Palace.

photo signing state visit france february 27 2015

The signing of the agreements took place on the first day of President Hollande’s visit, and is expected to significantly enhance the bilateral relations between the Philippines and France through intensified cooperation in key areas.

Declaration of Intent (DOI) of the Philippines and France on the Protection of the Environment and the Sustainable Development of Marine Resources

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario and French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Marie Segolene Royal signed a Declaration of Intent (DOI) concerning the protection of the environment and the sustainable development of the marine resources of the Philippines.

The collaboration between the Philippine and French Governments is intended to better understand, plan, and manage the consequences of climate change on the environment and marine resources. The cooperation is also expected to lead to the improvement in the living conditions of Filipino communities who are dependent on the oceans resources.

Memorandum of Understanding on Philippines-France Cooperation in the Area of Higher Education and Research

Secretary Del Rosario and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius likewise signed on behalf of their respective Governments the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Philippines-France Cooperation in the Area of Higher Education and Research, which is envisioned to promote student mobility particularly in the masteral and doctoral levels, promote the recognition of degrees and diplomas of both parties by their respective qualifications frameworks, and facilitate the exchange of faculty, experts, administration personnel, academic personnel and students through university partnerships.

The MoU will also lead to the adoption of twinning and joint degree programs, intensify the implementation of joint international thesis supervision to strengthen the ties between Filipino and French researchers and strengthen exchanges of information and cooperation on the quality of higher education.

Under the MoU, the Philippine Commission of Higher Education and the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research will aim to develop Philippines-France collaboration in the field of science for the period 2015-2020 through the following: exchanges of young researchers in post-doctoral residences, joint scientific seminars and joint research projects through research network involving laboratories of both countries.

In the past five years, more than 1,277 Filipinos travelled to France to study for short- and long-term studies. In the same period, some 50 Philippine institutions of higher learning have some form of cooperation with French educational institutions of higher learning such as joint research and exchange of professors and graduate students. French higher institutions ranks 19th in the OECD ranking in math and sciences, ahead of Denmark and the United Kingdom.

The MoU is expected to double the number of exchanges between the Philippines and France in the next five years as exchanges between educational institutions are facilitated. Students, researchers and professors from both countries are expected to keenly participate in this new and formalized cooperation.

Agreement on Tourism Cooperation

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius signed the Agreement on Tourism Cooperation, which is expected to enhance the two countries’ friendly bilateral relations through the promotion of the Philippines as a quality destination in France, the acquisition of best practices in natural and cultural heritage tourism, and the development of ecotourism and sustainable tourism.

Other benefits of the Agreement include the development of human resource capacities through education and training, the expansion of business opportunities for the Philippine industry private sector, the creation of new tourism products in line with sustainable tourism development and improvement of tourism marketing, and the utilization of new technologies in tourism.

France is the third largest tourist market of the Philippines in Europe and our country has been welcoming a growing number of French tourists every year. In 2013, the number of French tourists who went to the Philippines increased by almost 16%, to around 40,000 tourists. This number is expected to increase in 2015, especially with the declaration of 2015 as “Visit Philippines Year.

Philippine tourism has been attracting more attention in France lately. Most recently, two French magazines—Elle and Lonely Planet—have already included the Philippines as one of their top ten destinations in 2015.

Contract for the Design and Construction of Manila Light Rail Transit Line 1 Extension

One of the documents signed was a Letter of Award between the Manila Light Rail Transit Corporation and a consortium composed of the global contractor, Bouygues Publics Travaux, and the leading transportation supplier Alstrom Transport, for the design and construction of Manila Light Rail Transit Line 1 Extension.

The project is to be implemented under a Private-Public Partnership scheme and consists of extending the existing LRT1 between Baclaran and Cavite by an elevated 12-kilometer leg with eight new stations, and upgrading the existing system between Roosevelt and Baclaran. This new transportation system will offer Manila inhabitants a safe, comfortable and rapid service to access the Manila City center and will contribute to improved mobility in Manila.

Agreement for the Management, Operation and Maintenance of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX)

The two Presidents also witnessed the signing of the agreement between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) with the Manila North Tollways Corporation (MNTC) for the management, operation and maintenance of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).

Under the agreement, MNTC will be assigned by BCDA all the latter’s rights, interests and obligations pursuant to the concession agreement of the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), a 94-kilometer expressway, relating to the management, operation and maintenance of the SCTEX. The concession term is for 35 years or until 30 October 2043.

In consideration for the assignment of BCDA to MNTC of the former’s rights to, and interest in, SCTEX, MNTC will pay BCDA the amount of Php 3.5 Billion. Both shall equally share the in the gross toll revenues.

BCDA will retain all the rights, interests, and obligations pursuant to the concession agreement of the SCTEX relating to the design, construction, and financing of the SCTEX.

Credit Facility Agreement for Cebu Bus Rapid Transit Project

Secretary of Finance Cesar V. Purisima signed on behalf of the Philippines, while Agence Française de Développement (French Agency for Development –AFD) Asia Department Head Pascaul Pacaut signed on behalf of France, a credit facility agreement for the design, construction and supervision of the Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project.

Under the credit facility agreement, the AFD will provide loans amounting to US$57.5 million for the Cebu BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) Project.

The project will be implemented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in coordination with the Cebu City Government and is intended to improve the urban passenger transport system in Cebu City in terms of quality and level of service, safety, and environmental efficiency.