Zubiri heads meetings with UK Parliamentary leaders
“We need stronger parliament-to-parliament cooperation to go along with the robust people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and the United Kingdom.”
This was the message of Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, as he led a Senate delegation on a parliamentary visit to the UK, culminating in meetings with Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Lord John McFall, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords.
The senators’ UK visit, which included Sens. Grace Poe and Bong Go, was made possible by the invitation of the British Group Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU).
During the meeting on Tuesday, Zubiri and Speaker Hoyle are in agreement that the Philippines and the UK are well-positioned to build stronger partnerships rooted in shared democratic principles.
The Senate chief emphasized the Philippines’ need to build defense partnerships with the UK as part of the modernization efforts for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Zubiri also stressed that with measures like the Ease of Doing Business Act, the Public Service Act, and the Foreign Investments Act, the Philippines is poised to expand its trade partnerships and agreements with more nations, including the UK.
“We look forward to bringing more UK investors in, to help us become a stronger and more competitive force in Southeast Asia,” he said.
On people-to-people exchanges, the Senate delegation advocated for better wages and more relaxed requirements for Filipino healthcare workers in the UK.
At present, there are over 40,000 healthcare workers in the UK, comprising about 20% of the more than 200,000 overseas Filipino workers working in the European nation.
Speaker Hoyle agreed that Filipino healthcare workers should get better compensation, as they are reliable partners of the UK National Health Service.
On Wednesday, the meeting with Lord Speaker McFall was equally productive as it focused on defense and security partnerships and on cooperation in the peace process, as the peace initiatives in the Bangsamoro region were modeled partly after the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.
The Lord Speaker welcomed the Senate delegation’s visit as an affirmation of the strong ties between the Philippines and the UK.
Alongside partnerships in defense, trade and people-to-people exchanges, Senate President Zubiri also thanked the UK for their support in the Philippines’ climate action efforts, which includes overseas development assistance for clean energy projects.
“We have been able to really reestablish our ties with the UK Parliament,” said Zubiri of the meetings.
Apart from meeting with parliament leaders, the delegation also met with committees and other members of Parliament to discuss economic security, science and technology, trade, foreign affairs, and international development.
“And we now look forward to working with them to see our discussions through, and make them concrete through trade agreements, through actual investments, through defense procurement, and through government protections for our OFWs.”