Arrival statement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on her visits to New Zealand and Australia
We return from New Zealand and Australia with renewed confidence that Philippine relations with these two great nations are rock solid. We stand shoulder to shoulder in the fight against terrorism and side by side in our belief that greater economic, military and cultural engagement between our nations will lift up the Philippines.
In New Zealand, we worked to advance greater understanding between all communities of faith. This is so essential in our quest for peace in Mindanao. We were able to forge new economic ties and promote vital investments.
In Australia, we received a huge boost in mutual security with the new Status of Forces Agreement that will help to professionalize our military through training and advanced education along with the vital contribution of special sea crafts to help us fight terrorists lurking in the swamps and shadows of remote southern islands. Like the Philippines, Australia has felt the lash of terrorism on its citizens. By working together on a regional basis, we hope to make our country and the entire region safer and more secure for our God-fearing people.
We thank New Zealand and Australia for their leadership in interfaith dialogue, and for also extending the hand of friendship to help us wipe out our own lingering human rights issues here at home.
The Philippines must stay engaged with our neighbors. We cannot become isolated. It is clear from the valuable participation of our legislative and local officials in our trips to Japan and now New Zealand and Australia that our elected officials must also turn their sights outward and not solely focus on domestic issues.
We all have an obligation to strengthen our relations abroad in order to strengthen our economy and security here at home. Let us remain united as a nation in common purpose when it comes to our international standing and obligations. Let us not send mixed messages to the world. Rather let us say with one voice that says the Philippines is on the move. It is a worthy partner in peace and a prime location for investment.