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Manila, Rome to enhance defense ties after Philippines eyes purchase of Italian warship

The Philippines and Italy are set to further strengthen their defense partnership, Manila's Ambassador to Rome Virgilio Reyes Jr. said on Wednesday. 

The announcement came roughly two months after the Philippines' Defense Department disclosed plans of acquiring a third warship from Italy after purchasing two from the United States. 

Officials of both countries' defense departments will hold an exchange of visits to enhance their strategic defense ties, Reyes said in a statement on Wednesday. 

“[We are] committed to its effective concrete implementation,” Reyes said.

In May, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin raised the possibility that the country may acquire another warship from Italy. The Philippines has two warships, the first, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, was acquired from the US Coast Guard last year. The second may arrive in November, Gazmin said. 

Speaking at the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between both countries, Reyes also asked the Italian Ministry Foreign Affairs to sign two pending agreements--the Draft Executive Cultural Program between the Philippine and Italy and the Draft Protocol to Amend the Bilateral Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation.

Manila and Rome established diplomatic ties since July 1947, a relationship that has been marked by several cooperation agreements over the past years.

In his speech, Reyes also thanked Italy's foreign ministry for allowing Filipinos to promote their own food in Italy, including mango rum liquor, and for permitting Filipino artists showcase their artworks. 

"[During] the end of June, the Philippine Tropical Fruit Business Mission to Italy had a productive visit around markets of Rome and Bergamo and [held] important exchange of discussion with the Italian fruit growers and importers in the Centro Agroalimentare di Roma (CAR)," Reyes said.

"I would like to expresse my gratitude to the government of the Italian Republic for its gracious hosting of the Filipino community in Italy with the assurance that Filipino nationals will contribute positively to the Italian society and economy," Reyes stressed.

Reyes then expressed the Philippine government’s commitment toward upholding, protecting, and promoting the rights and interests of the Filipino community in Italy. Some 131,000 Filipinos work in Italy as maids, nurses, or service workers.

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| July 11, 2012 | Article Link

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