The Philippine Star : Finland hopes Philippines will continue to uphold int’l law, rules-based order

15 June 2022

By Kaycee Valmonte | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippinees — Finland emphasized that it hopes the Philippines through the upcoming administration will continue to uphold the international law and rules-based order, especially with Manila’s position in the Ukraine-Russia war.

President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday met with more diplomats, including the Finnish Ambassador to the Philippines Juha Markus Pyykkö, Norway Chargé d’Affaires Bjorn Jahnsen, Ambassador of Hungary to the Philippines Dr. Titanilla Toth, and Ambassador of South Africa to the Philippines Bartinah Ntombizodwa Radebe-Netshitenzhe.

Finland shares a land-border with Russia spanning 1,300 kilometers. Pyykkö said the war “has totally changed the security situation” in Finland, highlighting that its a “global international issue.”

“As a [European Union]-member state, we want to work with upholding international law and international rules-based order and at this juncture, I raised the Russian aggression against Ukraine because that is [a] severe breach of international law and the international-rule based order,” Pyykkö said.

Earlier in February, Russia invaded Ukraine, which resulted in over 4.9 million individuals from Ukraine to seek refuge in other countries. According to a BBC News report, Ukraine had wanted to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which Russia was against because it wanted Ukraine to maintain “its neutral status.”

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, some 26,196 individuals from Ukraine sought refuge in Finland as of May 25, while 24,455 are registered as Ukraine refugees “registered for temporary protection or similar national protection schemes.”

Pyykkö also noted that the Philippines had joined other countries in condemning Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and signed another resolution that blamed Moscow for the humanitarian abuses committed in Ukraine.

“What I [conveyed] to the president-elect is that I hope his administration will continue to appreciate and respect this approach from the Philippine side in the future as well,” Pyykkö said.

Aside from this, Finland envoy Pyykkö said they discussed the expertise given by Finnish companies in the sector of green transition in the country, as well as health, education, and he also commended the contributions of the Filipino community in Finland.

Earlier this week, Marcos Jr. also met with Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov. The president-elect reportedly told Pavlov that the Philippines plans to continue an independent foreign policy on the Russia-Ukraine war, but Marcos Jr. “will cooperate” with the Russian Federation.

More jobs for Filipinos in Hungary
Meanwhile, Ambassador of Hungary to the Philippines Dr. Titanilla Tóth said that their country is looking to expand other areas of cooperation to provide more employment opportunities for Filipinos in Hungary.

She thanked Marcos Jr. “for the labor force.”

“The Philippines is providing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” Tóth said. “Already in Hungary, more than 800 Filipinos are working and we are happy to increase the number in the future.”

Tóth said Hungary is also looking into other areas for collaboration, which include hospitality, electronic factories, as well as improve sectors such as water technology. “Tesda can be our biggest partner to make trainings before the OFWs to enter Hungary,” she said.

Aside from this, Hungary’s envoy also floated that it might expand its scholarship program to more Filipinos as it looks to expand the two countries’ cooperation in the field of education.

“We are already providing 35 [scholarships] to Filipino students, maybe in the future we can increase that,” Toth said.

Climate change, renewable energy projects with Norway
On the other hand, Norway Chargé d’Affaires Bjorn Jahnsen said his talks with Marcos Jr. focused on climate change as well as opportunities for renewable energy projects in the Philippines.

Jahnsen also said he invited Marcos Jr. to a conference Norway is organizing on maritime and energy issues to speak about renewable energy in the Philippines.

“That’s the plan for the future for Norway and the Philippines—really to increase our imprint on renewable energy in the country,” Jahnsen said.

He said Norway plans to invest in more companies for offshore wind, floating solar, and hydro, noting that the renewable energy sector could provide more employment opportunities for Filipinos.

However, he pointed out that foreign companies should be allowed to own majority of their stake in these renewable companies.

“They often are investments with several billions of dollars and foreign investors would like to have a certainty of having a majority stake in their investment,” Jahnsen said.

Meanwhile, Jahnsen and Marcos Jr. also talked about Norway’s engagement in the Bangsamoro region and expressed that Norway plans to continue its peace talks under the coming administration.

“We have achieved 20,000 former combatants being decommissioned so far out of 40,000 so we are halfway there,” Jahnsen said.

South Africa may help with oil supply
South African ambassador to the Philippines Radebe-Netshitenzhe said she briefed Marcos Jr. about South Africa’s involvements during her courtesy call on the president-elect, including possible opportunities for assistance in oil supply following an on-going oil exploration project in Nambia.

“We know that there has been a commitment from the Angola in particular and Namibia, they will look into it but there is still oil exploration in Namibia… Angola is already a big supplier in the Southern Africa,” Radebe-Netshitenzhe said. — with reports from Kristine Joy Patag