SEOUL — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived here early Sunday morning, June 3, for his first Official Visit to the Republic of Korea.
The President, who flew on a commercial flight, arrived at the Incheon International Airport at 4:57 am (Seoul time).
He was accompanied by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Raul S. Hernandez welcomed the Chief Executive and his delegation.
The President’s three-day Official Visit will kick off with his meeting with the Filipino community at the Convention Hall of the Grand Hilton Hotel and Convention Center on Sunday afternoon.
In an interview, Ambassador Hernandez said the Filipinos in South Korea are “very excited” to finally personally meet Duterte.
“You know, the Filipino community here in South Korea is solidly behind the President and in his campaign against corruption, against drugs, and against criminality,” the envoy said.
On Monday, the President will lay a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery to honor the fallen soldiers, leaders, and heroes of South Korea.
President Duterte will then proceed to Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House), the official residence of the Republic of Korea, and meet with President Moon Jae-in for the bilateral summit meeting.
The President will also witness the signing of agreements which will be followed by a joint press statement of the two leaders at the Cheong Wa Dae.
The South Korean leader will then host a dinner for President Duterte at the State Guest House.
On the last day of his Official Visit here, President Duterte will participate in a forum hosted by the Korean business community.
Hernandez said Duterte’s meeting with the business community on Tuesday is one of the highlights of his visit, noting that the gathering is seen as an opportunity to promote the Philippines to Korean investors.
President Duterte will cap off his Official Visit by gracing the Philippine Food Festival at the E-Mart headquarters, where Philippine agriculture products will be showcased in one of the biggest supermarket chains here.
Ambassador Hernandez noted that when the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Philippines was the first in Asia to send troops.
“After that, South Korea has never forgotten our principled stand for freedom and it has always cherished our brotherhood forged in blood,” he said.
“So over the years, the leaders and the officials of the two countries continue to nourish this relationship and which led to the current state of robust and vibrant bilateral relations,” he added.
Hernandez said South Korea is the 7th largest trading partner of the Philippines with trade relations totaling around US$10.6 billion and the 5th largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) partner of the Philippines, with about US$570 million dollars in loans and grants last year.
Seoul is also one of the foremost defense and security partners of the Philippines, according to Hernandez.
He likewise noted that South Korea is the top tourist source of the Philippines with about 1.6 million of its nationals visiting in 2017. ### (PND)