03 December 2015

Philippine embassy addressing unemployment among Filipino youth in Italy
(ROME, Italy) The Philippine embassy here is working with the Italian government to address the high unemployment rate among young Filipinos in Italy, Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco has said.

“We have a very high youth unemployment (in Italy),” Ambassador Nolasco told Radio TV Malacañang in a recent interview.

To deal with the problem, the envoy said the embassy, in cooperation with Filipino organizations in Italy, is sponsoring two seminars aimed at reaching out to the young Filipinos and signing them up with the European Youth Guarantee Program that runs a database for job matching.

Under the program, he said, young Filipinos get a chance to gain either employment or an internship in Italy.

Nolasco further noted that Filipino youths here are already detached from their roots, with many of them no longer knowing the Filipino culture and heritage.

“Many of the young Filipinos are not able to speak our language and many of them are not aware of our culture,” he said.

“So whenever I have a chance to speak with the (Filipino) community or with the groups of our kababayan, I always encourage them not to forget to speak with their children in our native language,” he said.

To address this concern, he said, the embassy is putting up Centro Rizal and has organized a weekly program to teach them about Filipino culture, with the help of several Filipino organizations.

Italy’s Ministry of Interior has estimated that as of last July, some 171,000 Filipinos are legally working in Italy, with most of them employed in the northern part of the country, mainly around the Milan area, although there is also a large concentration of Filipinos in Rome.

About 80 percent of them are in the service sector, and the rest are religious persons, dependents and young people. PND (as)

President Aquino to meet with Filipino community in Italy
(ROME, Italy) President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to attend a get-together with members of the Filipino community in Italy during his four-day visit here and the Vatican, the Philippine envoy to Italy has said.

“They (Filipinos) are excited to meet the President because this is the first time in a long time that the President is meeting the Filipino community in Italy, in Rome,” Ambassador Domingo Nolasco said in a recent interview with Radio TV Malacañang.

“We extended the invitation to Filipinos all over Italy through the honorary consuls that we have around Italy, plus through the different organizations,”‘ he said.

He said the meeting would enable President Aquino to personally connect with Filipinos here and convey to them the achievements of his administration in the past five years.

According to Italy’s Ministry of Interior, some 171,000 Filipinos are legally working in Italy as of last July.

Filipinos are spread out across Italy, with the highest concentration in the northern part of the country, mainly around the Milan area, and the second highest concentration in Rome, Nolasco said, adding that 80 percent of them belong to the service sector, and the rest consist of religious persons, dependents and youths.

The envoy noted that in the past two years, many Filipinos have come to Italy to join their kin.

This is the result of Italy’s very liberal integration policy or family reunification guidelines, he explained.

“Many of the entrants are either children or relatives of those who are already residents here,” Nolasco said, adding that they however find the integration process difficult due to the language barrier.

As such, he said, the embassy is encouraging those who come to Italy to at least know the Italian language.

During his visit here, President Aquino is also scheduled to meet with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. PND (as)

President Aquino meets with Italian President, discusses South China Sea, global terrorism
(ROME, Italy) Italian President Sergio Mattarella has affirmed the Philippines’ stance in the South China Sea issue, saying all claimants must respect the rule of law.

During his meeting with President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Quirinal Palace here on Wednesday, President Mattarella affirmed the Philippines’ adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Italian leader also expressed his country’s support for the upholding of the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and acknowledged the path that the Philippines has taken for the peaceful resolution of the dispute.

The Philippines has an ongoing case against China in the International Arbitral Tribunal regarding its claim on the South China Sea.

Both leaders also expressed solidarity in the campaign against global terrorism, giving their shared view on the need to intensify efforts to halt Islamic radicalization.

Also during the meeting, President Aquino thanked Italy for its support for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the debt for development program.

Mattarella raised the European Union’s (EU) concern over the influx of migrants and refugees from the Middle East as many EU members still grapple to address the issue at this time.

President Aquino on the other hand cited the Philippines’ record in assisting refugees.

He also highlighted during the meeting with Mattarella the need to improve the relations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

On the Philippines’ domestic affairs, the Italian president expressed great interest in the Mindanao peace process after President Aquino briefed him on the ongoing peace initiative in the south.

Matarella also congratulated the Philippines for its successful hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit last month, its high economic growth rate, and the administration’s anti-corruption campaign.

He also recognized the significant contributions of more than 171,000 Filipinos working in Italy. PND (as)

Aquino, Mattarella express solidarity against global terrorism
(ROME, Italy) Global terrorism figured in the bilateral meeting of President Benigno S. Aquino III and his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, at the Quirinal Palace here on Wednesday, following the recent terrorist attacks in nearby France. According to Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. who was present during the closed-door meeting, both leaders shared the view that it is vital to exert efforts towards de-radicalization in the campaign against global terrorism.

The mass shootings and suicide bombings, which the Islamic State launched in Paris last November 13, have drastically impacted the tourism industry across Europe, affecting Italy and other neighboring countries of France.

The two leaders also discussed how the Philippines has been dealing with its own terrorism issues.

Secretary Coloma said the Bangsamoro Basic Law framework for peace building was explained as Italy expressed “great interest” in its progress.

He further said that the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute was mentioned, as Italy affirmed the Philippines’ adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in upholding freedom of navigation in the area.

The Philippines is pursuing a legal battle against China through the Arbitral Tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which Italy believes is an “appropriate path” towards peacefully resolving the dispute.

Meanwhile, President Aquino thanked President Mattarella for the support Italy has provided for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and debt for development programs.

Coloma said the Italian leader also raised the concerns shared by many European countries with respect to migrants and refugees fleeing war, while President Aquino cited the Philippines’ record in assisting asylum seekers.

On a lighter note, Italy congratulated the Philippines for its successful hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit just two weeks ago, Coloma said.

Rome also lauded Manila’s high economic growth rate and its anti-corruption efforts.

President Mattarella further commended the significant contributions of more than 171,000 Filipinos in Italy. Both leaders also acknowledged the need for improved relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union. PND (hdc)

Philippines, Italy discuss boosting trade under European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences
(ROME, Italy) The Philippines and Italy raised the possibility of increasing trade and investment, with the Philippines becoming a possible manufacturing base for export to the European Union under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP).

The possibility of boosting trade between the Philippines and Italy was discussed during the meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi here on Wednesday.

Aside from the GSP status in the EU, the Philippines also has a Free Trade Agreement with Japan and it is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community that boosts its viability as a trade and investment partner.

In December last year, the EU granted the Philippines GSP+ that provides duty-free entry to the EU for some of the most important Philippine exports.

The GSP+ preferences cover more than 6,200 tariff lines, including fruit and foodstuffs, coconut oil, footwear, fish, and textiles.

The Philippines is already a beneficiary of the EU’s GSP.

The greatest benefit from GSP+ is the attraction of new industrial investments in sectors where relatively high tariffs are slashed to zero under GSP+.

These include Filipino exports that are labor-intensive, such as pineapple juice, garments, preserved fruits, tuna, fruit jams, jellies, and footwear.

President Aquino and Renzi also talked about the Philippines’ case against China in the International Arbitral Tribunal, with the Italian leader expressing support for the Philippines.

Renzi, a former mayor of Florence, Italy, also praised the 171,000 Filipino workforce in Italy, describing them as “highly integrated workers”.

The Italian prime minister likewise congratulated President Aquino for the Philippines’ successful hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit last month, as well as for the peace process in Mindanao.

For his part, President Aquino thanked Renzi for Italy’s support in providing the Philippines with Augusta helicopters intended for disaster relief. PND (as)

Philippines pushes for grants-based adaptation funds in climate change talks
(PARIS, France) As the United Nations (UN) climate change negotiations entered its fourth day here, the Philippines called for adaptation funds that will not result in additional financial burden for Filipinos.

The country’s lead negotiator for adaptation and director of the Climate Change Office of the Department of Agriculture, Alicia Ilaga, said that they want the Paris agreement to reflect that adaptation finance must be grants-based.

“Assistance for infrastructure improvement, the relocation of communities to places that are safer, requires money. We shouldn’t have to be subjected to having more debt from the international community to get that help,” Ilaga said.

Funding adaptation measures are a critical aspect of the allocation of climate finance.

Adaptation support is crucial for the country, as it experiences extreme weather events that affect farmers, fisherfolk and other vulnerable sectors. This has implications on the country’s food security and economic stability.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 2007 report on “Investment and Financial Flows to Address Climate Change” projected that developing countries would need US$28 billion to US$67 billion annually by 2030 for adaptation.

The maximum projection of US$67 billion is more than half of the $100 billion to be provided under the Green Climate Fund, the main funding mechanism for mitigation and adaptation initiatives in developing countries.

Aside from fund sourcing, there is also an issue on how the funds would be allocated. Finance for adaptation should not come in the form of loans as this will make it harder for developing countries – which are also the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change – to access funds. Loans should be repaid and incur interest. Grants, on the other hand, do not carry such conditions.

These could best support adaptive measures that would strengthen livelihoods, food security and ecosystems, Ilaga said, adding that this also complements the country’s position that adaptation finance must be needs-based – this means that the country would seek and use funds for their priorities that have been identified in their national adaptation plans (NAPS). The country is in the process of completing its own plan.

The Philippines also wants to ensure that there is parity between mitigation and adaptation in climate finance, Ilaga said, noting that the country believes that adaptation has mitigation co-benefits; hence, funding for adaptation should not be seen as additional costs but as investment to make mitigation also more effective.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a coalition of 43 middle-sized economy and small-island developing countries headed by the Philippines, called for strong support of adaptation actions. They said that adaptation will help them meet their goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions to below 1.5°C.

The CVF pointed out that developing countries are already “leading the design of adaptation plans” as reflected in the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) in 2015. The INDCs capture the mitigation and adaptation targets of each country.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, who attended the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) here last November 30, said at the CVF that even if countries are getting better at adaptation, they still need more help.

“People still die and whole communities are displaced; businesses are affected, thus stunting economic activity. Funds that could otherwise be used for other development needs and services are channeled towards the costly efforts involving relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction,” he said.

Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, the head of the Philippine delegation at the COP21, said they will push for strong adaptation support from developed countries, noting that they need predictable, scaled-up funding to adapt to the consequences of climate change. PND (as)