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Australia announces new P3.3-B ODA for the Philippines.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Australia would give the Philippines official development assistance (ODA) totaling AUD89.9 million, or roughly PHP3.32 billion, from 2023 to 2024.

The declaration was made on May 18 in Makati City, concurrent with a meeting between visiting Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo.

The money will go toward programs focusing on inclusive economic growth, disaster and climate resilience, education, training, scholarships, and peace and stability in Mindanao.

The DFA stated that this is in addition to Canberra’s promise of AUD10.95 million, or roughly PHP405 million, to aid in establishing a new immunization database, a strengthened laboratory network, and surveillance systems during health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Australian Embassy, the Philippines received an estimated PHP3.1 billion in ODA between 2022 and 2023, most of which went directly toward promoting peace in Mindanao.

Wong and Manalo noted continuous collaboration in various fields besides development, including defense, marine, counterterrorism, law and justice, research and innovation, catastrophe risk reduction, education and training collaboration, and intercultural exchanges.

Manalo and Wong also decided to expand their trade and investment collaboration, including looking for potential to work together on vital minerals and boost two-way tourism.

The DFA stated that talks regarding a “work and holiday visa arrangement” are ongoing between the two nations, but it has not yet provided any additional information about its specifics.

As part of a string of high-level meetings and visits between Australia and the Philippines during the Marcos regime, Wong is in Manila from May 16 to May 18 on official business at Manalo’s invitation.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may meet in person after the ASEAN-Australia Summit in March 2024, according to Manalo, who announced at a news conference in Makati City.

A bilateral visit, he added, may happen “at a mutually agreed” period.

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