Spain condemns rebellion in RP

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE Spanish government has condemned the coup attempt by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and renegade soldiers last week and repeated its support for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, a Palace statement from Madrid said yesterday.

The statement came even as Mrs. Arroyo arrived in the Spanish capital for a four-day visit to mark 60 years of diplomatic ties.

She is only the second Philippine President—after her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, who visited in 1962—to visit Spain as head of government.

“The government of Spain expresses its condemnation against the attempted coup d´etat that has taken place in the Philippines, and expresses its satisfaction that the democratic processes have successfully been maintained,” Malacañang said quoting the Spanish foreign ministry.

It said the foreign ministry also expressed satisfaction that the coup fizzled out and was “resolved without loss of human lives.”

On Thursday, Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim walked out of a hearing of the rebellion case against them in Makati and proceeded to The Peninsula hotel, where they holed up and demanded Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation.

But they and their followers gave up after police stormed the hotel following a standoff.

Mrs. Arroyo arrived in Madrid after visiting Tarbes in France, where she made a brief visit to the Lourdes Grotto, a popular and revered destination of Filipino pilgrims.

According to Philippine Ambassador to Spain Joseph Delano Bernardo, the Spanish government is interested in financing through soft loans projects on renewable energy (particularly wind and solar power) and transport (especially trains and light rail transits).

To help develop Philippine infrastructure, the Spanish government recently extended a 22-million-euro loan facility to the Aboitiz Group and the Spanish company Socoin for a power project in Davao, Bernardo said.

That aside, there are several projects that will be implemented, such as the construction of 96 steel bridges worth 30 million euros, the construction of 70 modular roll-on, roll-off ports in the Philippines worth 150 million euros, and a solar energy project worth 26 million euros to finance projects in the Visayas and Mindanao.

To increase the Philippines’ trade and investment with Spain, the President ordered the opening of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Madrid on Oct. 1 last year, Bernardo said.

“Nowadays, we have been receiving many inquiries and project proposals from various Spanish companies and enterprises about business and investment opportunities in the Philippines, ”Bernardo said.

“We hope to sustain this momentum in the coming months. Little by little, we will see a significant increase in the volume of trade and investment between the Philippines and Spain in the next few years through the efforts of the Embassy and the PTIC.”

Barely moving over the last five years, trade between the Philippines and Spain is perking up, thanks to Philippine government efforts.

Bernardo said trade between the Philippines and Spain grew by an average of only 10 percent in a five-year period, with the Philippines always on the short end.

But in 2006 Philippine exports to Spain grew 27 percent, the biggest yet in the two countries trade relations.

“There’s plenty of room for improvement, especially in the area of investments,” Bernardo said.

He saaid the President’s state visit would “reinforce our efforts in forging a Spanish-Philippine relations in such areas as defense, tourism, renewable energy, infrastructure, agriculture and fisheries as well as employment opportunities in the health and engineering sectors.”

Last year, Spain ranked as the Philippines’ no. 31 trading partner, accounting for 0.20 percent of total Philippine trade with the world of $98.5 billion.

As an export market, Spain was down to 25th place, accounting for only 0.18 percent of total Philippine exports to the world of $47 billion in 2006. But as an import source, Spain accounted for 0.21 percent of the total Philippine imports of $51.5 billion.

The principal Philippine exports to Spain consist of crude coconut oil, imitation jewelry, Portland cement, cement clinker and machine parts and accessories.

The Philippines’ principal imports from Spain are pharmaceutical products, parts and accessories of transmission and radio receivers, sausage and ham casings and other food products.

Several Spanish companies are now operating in the Philippines, including Acciona, Mapfre, CAF, Zara, Laboratories Calier, Perfumeria Española, Campofrio, Iber Pacific, Soluziona and Iberto Asistencia.

Bernardo said the government’s investment shopping list included such leading Spanish firms as Ferrovial, Indira and Gamesa to establish businesses in the Philippines in the next few years.

“In order to increase our trade and investment with Spain, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered the opening of the PTIC in Madrid,” Bernardo said.