January 9, 2017
Transcript of Press Conference after the meeting between members of the Philippine Senate and visiting members of the France Southeast Asia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group
Senate President Koko Pimentel III: We have just concluded a very important meeting between the members of the Philippine Senate and high level delegation from the French Senate led by the Hon. Gerard Miquel, president of the France-Southeast Asia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. The delegation is on a three-day visit to the Philippines upon the invitation of the Philippine Senate and they had come from Thailand and Brunei. And they had they also visited Cebu last weekend and had the opportunity to meet Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide as well as with Mayor Thomas Osmeña of Cebu City.
So, also here with us today are my fellow senators, you know all of them by name. The visit to the Philippines of our distinguished visitors in the French Senate comes in a most opportune time because this year, 2017, marks the commemoration of the 70th year of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. So, with this visit we can renew and deepen our inter-parliamentary cooperation with France once more, exchange best practices and pursue common global advocacies such as climate change, sustainable development, poverty alleviation and improvement of economic and trade relations. So, at this point, may I now call on the leader of the delegation and president of the France-Southeast Asia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group Senator Gerard Miquel for his statement to the media.
French Senator Gerard Miquel, leader of delegation: And we've also come here to enhance the relationship of our two nations on the priority issues. It's important that France and the Philippines enhance their economic cooperation which would allow us to enhance our cooperation on economic issues and all other issues to the common benefit of the Philippine and the French peoples. Our two countries have a long standing common history. We are celebrating this year the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France.
On this special occasion, the French embassy and its many partners in the Philippines will organize a longer festival called PhilFrench, it's our trademark. It's a series of events that will be taking place in 2017 and in the following years as well. In closing, I wanted to take the time to thank the Senate President from the Philippines and the Philippine Senate for their gracious welcome for the three days that we spent in the Philippines. On the occasion of our visit, we ourselves invited the delegation from the French Senate to continue the enhancement of our relations. We hope that we can see them again sometime this year in Paris. Thank you very much.
Pimentel: Thank you very much. We can accept a few questions from the media. Just a few because we extended our meeting and they are running late in their schedule for the day.
Q: On the Paris agreement, will the French delegation set a meeting with the President to raise the matter to him? He has been not too enthusiastic about the agreement.
Senator Loren Legarda: I already clarified with them the process of ratification and I already mentioned that the earlier reports. The president has always been for climate justice and for decades, I have been for climate justice because the Philippines is non-emitter in the world. It doesn't mean that if you are for climate justice that you are against an agreement.
So let's clarify that so that the facts are accurate. The government is for the agreement. In fact, 32 of the 33 agencies have already submitted their certificates of concurrence and hopefully soon this year it would be transmitted to the Senate and the leadership of the Senate. The Senate President, Senate Pro Tempore all of us sitting here are environmentalists and climate advocates. I am certain we will be able to shepherd the concerns and ratification within the year. Thank you.
Miquel: And furthermore, to add on Senator Legarda's answer, we met this morning with the sector of Foreign Affairs who very much assured us of the willingness of the Philippine government to expedite the agreement by July.
Q: I'd like to address this question to the delegation from France. Any specific concerns which you think should be address by the Philippines, working hand in hand with the French government in addressing the impact of climate change knowing that in your area, I think I remember a few weeks ago right there in Paris is that you're suffering from pollution at that time. So if the Philippines will not repeat the experience which fronts is actually facing right now, what support can you provide the Philippine government?
Miquel: Just to reiterate our statement in the meeting, we agreed that France and the Philippines have to work together on the priority of issues for the protection of the environment. Of course the production of clean renewable energy is very important but there are also other issues that we, to which we can be potentially helpful such as the recycling of water for example.
Too many children worldwide get sick and die every day because of polluted water that they have to consume. So the lack of access to clean water is a one very important issue on which France is involved on. The sources of clean water, clean natural water, mostly preserved is an important priority. And of course this requires the installation of equipment that will allow us to retreat solid water.
The issue of preservation of natural resources is also important. And in order to do so, recycling is an issue that's very much important and on which France is at the full front of. So we need to treat, we need to use the latest technological advances to treat waste and recycle everything that can be treated without those equipment.
So to summarize, we can see that cooperation between France and the Philippines on climate change and the environment is not just about the Paris agreement but about lots of other issues as well. France (unclear) that they have when it comes to technological advances in the world of recycling and these are technologies that we can make available to any country that is interested in them.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri: Mr. President, I'd like to also add the French companies, in especially the field of renewable energy, France is a very big presence here in the Philippines. Their largest solar power plant in Asia, one of the largest is in Cadiz, sa Negros Occidental with 136 megawatts was built by French company called Bouygues and most of the components of solar power plants in the Philippines come from Schneider, which is also another French company. So in terms of technological expertise and cooperation, they have a very big influence already with renewable energies sector. So that is a big help France is giving they Philippines.
Q: When we talk about renewable energy, when we talk about climate change, we talk in terms of a green economy for everybody else. So what support can, well, the French government can do to enhance a green economy for the Philippines knowing for a fact that for the past three years and maybe it's going to be in a sustainable basis?
Miquel: Just to clear out to what I said earlier, of course, the green economy is about the environment. That's very clear. Further while, I did not mention previously is that the importance that it can have on the coal economy for example, and it doesn't really make sense that we just import the technologies to the Philippines, they have to be levelled up (through a course?) so that means more jobs, more sustainable jobs for the future that is tied, very much tied to the green economy.
Legarda: I would like to say something about that. Thank you for mentioning about the green economy, let me just state so just that it's clear, that a low carbon economy does not necessarily mean that we will not grow by leaves and bounds in terms of our GDP. In fact, its sustainable development - having a green economy or what I would like to call a low carbon economy, is even going to be more beneficial to business and to industries so this not mean, even if you go green or go low carbon or carbon neutral or carbon negative, that we would have to set back on out growth. So that's really a misnomer.
So, what assistance can France give us, can I just mention here that there is something tending in NEDA for which the French are making it available for us, it's a one point seven billion assistance by the French government on the integrated marine environment monitoring system under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The bus rapid transit of Cebu is around 10.6 billion pesos, and there's much, much more.
Of course, with the green climate fund, under the Paris agreement, will be activated if it's not activated yet. France will be one of the major countries that will contribute towards the hundred billion dollars in the Green Climate Fund, for which the Philippines, as a vulnerable nation, can access with both technical and financial assistance. So I think we're really climate soullmates in this room today, and the gentleman from Normandy also mentioned the new technology that France is leading on the creation of solar roads. That's something interesting, but perhaps they could pilot it in a province, or in a city--maybe Davao city can be piloted.
Maybe a concrete proof, or a concrete output of this meeting--of this visit--could be perhaps... Just to model a road in Davao--in the city of the President--for a solar road, because to do it commercially here, it might be a bit expensive. I'm not sure how much it'd cost, but we know how fast technology declines in terms of cost. But to model it within the year, of the seventieth year of bilateral relations between our countries, would be really interesting, if that's possible. Thank you, just a suggestion.
Zubiri: Let's highlight, gentlemen, that President Francois Hollande was the first European leader that visited the Philippines after Yolanda and brought the consciousness of climate change to the European community. I don't recall any other European leader coming to the country this in Tacloban aside from the pope. So let's highlight the friendship with France with that high note--that he was the first leader from Europe to come and highlight the destructiveness of climate change. It was French President Francois Hollande who did that and brought the message across Europe which brought in more funds to the Philippines in terms of aid and support.
French Translator: Just to clarify and give you some more information, you might not be aware that France is actually one of the least polluted countries and one of the least emitters of greenhouse gases in Europe because of the political choices that we made regarding our energy mix. So we have majority of our nuclear energy and our renewable energies as well. As for Germany, for example, they emit twice as much pollution as we do.
Pimentel: Okay, can we have one last question because we're running late. Last question from maybe a new questioner?
Q: Good morning, sir. I would like to ask the Senate President Koko Pimentel. Sir, we understand that you discussed with your French counterparts with regards to Federalism because it was mentioned by President Duterte that he once was, or he is interested in the French model?
Pimentel: Yes you are correct, we discussed that during the meeting--Federalism as well as the French system of the government. And that's why we accepted immediately the invitation of the French delegation to visit France so we can have a firsthand look at the system of the government and then learn from them when they explain to us their system of government. But it's not for Federalism-- it's for the executive-legislative setup, because France is not a federal system of government.
Q: Sir, another question. We would like to know, when will the Senate ratify the Paris Agreement? The ratification?
Pimentel: The projected timetable is by the middle of this year. It would be submitted to the Senate for concurrence. So that is the information received by the delegation from the executive branch. So give us six months and then we'll let that ratify. So thank you very much.
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