, AUGUST 10, 2007 (STAR) Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung arrived in the country yesterday for a two-day official visit highlighted by the signing of three bilateral agreements.

President Arroyo welcomed the Prime Minister and his wife Tran Thanh Kiem with full military honors at the Malacañang Palace grounds after which the two leaders had a private meeting.

During the meeting, three documents were signed – the Philippines-Vietnam Plan of Action 2007-2010, Protocol on Cultural Cooperation, and Agreement on Trade Promotion.

Mrs. Arroyo congratulated the Prime Minister for his re-election less than a month ago. She also praised Vietnam’s President Nguyen Ming Chit.

“A good leader is often an agent of change but change comes with risk. We congratulate the leadership of Vietnam for taking the acceptable risks of sweeping structural change without being afraid to fail,” the President said.

“Your fearless risk-taking off structural change towards global engagement did not fail you. Instead it rewarded you with impressive economic growth,” she added.

Based on documents provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines-Vietnam Plan of Action 2007-2010 aims to realize the goals and strategies set out in the Framework of Bilateral Cooperation between the two countries.

The Plan of Action covers various areas of cooperation including political matters, security and defense, and technology.

The Protocol on Cultural Cooperation, on the other hand, is intended to help the two countries implement their cultural agreement signed in Hanoi on March 28, 1994.

The aims of the cultural agreement would be realized through concrete initiatives in the field of culture and the arts, such as hosting of each other’s delegations during their respective national arts festival, artist visits, and collaboration on filmmaking and distribution.

The agreement on trade promotion covers the exchange of information on important economic and trade issues, and the exchange of trade missions.

The principal agencies involved are the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Export Trade Promotion (BETP) and the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency.

Apart from the signing of the three documents, the two leaders also discussed the possible expansion of the two-way trade between the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2006, total bilateral trade amounted to $1.027 billion.

Philippine exports to Vietnam are primarily cathodes and storage units, while the country imports milled rice, printed circuits, parts and accessories of machines from Vietnam.

The Philippines intends to promote consumer products such as toiletries, contract furniture, interior design and furnishings, processed food, services such as information technology, construction, engineering, and English proficiency, among others.

In the field of defense and security, there is an agreement between the Vietnamese People’s Navy and the Philippine Navy on enhancing communication and information exchange, and personnel exchanges.

Energy security cooperation was also discussed, as the Philippines is interested in learning from Vietnam’s experience in natural gas and renewable energy resources.

The two leaders also tackled the Joint Oceanographic and Marine Scientific Research Expedition in the South China Sea (JOMSRE-SCS).

Also discussed yesterday was the possible expansion of cooperation in agriculture and fisheries, health, tourism and education.

The Vietnamese prime minister will take part in a wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument, Rizal Park today. He is also scheduled to visit the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

Nguyen would also keynote the Philippines-Vietnam Business Forum at the Manila Hotel.

He will pay courtesy calls on Senate President Manuel Villar Jr. and Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.

A lunch would be hosted by San Miguel Corp. for Nguyen, to be attended by top business executives of the country. The Prime Minister leaves for Vietnam at 4 p.m. – Marvin Sy

GMA calls on college grads to join police force as PNP hiring 6,500 cops

Friday, August 10, 2007 President Arroyo urged jobless college graduates yesterday to join the country’s police force as the government is hiring 6,500 policemen this year until 2008.

Mrs. Arroyo made the suggestion during her visit to the Caloocan Police Station on Samson Road, accompanied by officials led by Mayor Enrico Echiverri, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Bayani Fernando, and Northern Police District Office director Chief Superintendent Pedro Tango. Echiverri has appealed for additional law enforcers in Caloocan.

“We know that there are many college graduates without jobs. For this, we have an opening for 3,000 (policemen) for you. So if you’re a college graduate and don’t have a job, enter the police force,” Mrs. Arroyo told the officials.

She said 3,000 new policemen would be hired this year, and 3,500 next year. Mrs. Arroyo said she is allowing a higher quota for police recruitment in Caloocan.

She pointed out that under the new Philippine National Police law, a rookie cop must be a college graduate.

Mrs. Arroyo also met with officials of Barangay 73 where the police station is located.

Caloocan police chief Superintendent William Macavinta said the city has 657 policemen for a population of 1.5 million.

He said he was able to initiate a major facelift for the police headquarters using more than P2 million donated by friends and private organizations.

The hiring of the new policemen, each of whom will have the rank of Police Officer 1, is part of Mrs. Arroyo’s directive early last year calling for the recruitment of 15,000 policemen over five years. Females will make up 20 percent or 600 of the new recruits.

Cost of the first year salary, equipment and training of the rookies is expected to reach P588 million, said Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr.

“There will be 1.774 million additional Filipinos next year. So if we need one cop for every 500 persons, then we need about 3,500 new policemen a year,” he said.

The country’s population is expected to rise from 88.71 million this year to 90.48 million by end-2008.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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