President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday hosted a state banquet for Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, underscoring decades-long partnership between the Philippines and Singapore based on trust and mutual respect.
President Yacob arrived in the country Sunday for a five-day state visit.
In his remarks during the toast, the President said the past five decades of partnership continues to serve the interest of peace, progress, and prosperity for the two countries, the region, and beyond.
“Tonight, as we celebrate fifty years of fruitful friendship and cooperation between our peoples, we welcome and honor Her Excellency, Madam Halimah Yacob, whose visit pays tribute to this important milestone in our bilateral relations,” the President said.
And as the country’s Asian neighbor celebrates its Bicentennial Anniversary this year, the President congratulated the people of Singapore for their achievements in nation-building.
“Let your storied journey continue to inspire peoples around the world,” he said.
“As we look to the next half-century and beyond, I have no doubt that our two nations will continue to create and seize opportunities to bring our ties to even greater heights. May our relations continue to rest on our resolute devotion to goodwill, amity, and mutual respect for the benefit and well-being of our peoples,” the President added.
As a response, President Yacob said she was very touched by the warm welcome and gracious hospitality accorded to her and to the members of her delegation.
This is a significant year for Singapore and the Philippines as the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties, she said.
“In the last 50 years, relations between our two countries have grown from strength to strength. We enjoy excellent ties and cooperation in wide-ranging areas. Our friendship is anchored on a shared vision of peace, stability, and prosperity in this region,” she noted.
“As we navigate through increasingly uncertain times, it is important that our two countries continue to work closely together, both bilaterally and at multilateral fora, including to advance ASEAN’s interest.”
She described the bilateral economic cooperation between Singapore and the Philippines as “robust and multifaceted,” noting Singapore was the Philippines’ top ASEAN trading partner and the second largest foreign investor last year.
Aside from commerce and trade, the Philippines and Singapore also have vibrant tourism industries that benefit both sides.
In 2018, Singapore welcomed more than 700,000 visitors from the Philippines, while more than 170,000 visitors from Singapore arrived in the Philippines.
Both countries have also tied up on biodiversity conservation. They reached a landmark agreement in June this year for Singapore to loan a pair of critically endangered Philippine Eagles under a 10-year research and breeding program.
President Yacob said Singapore is honored to host and care for the Philippine’s national bird. She is scheduled to visit the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Davao City on Wednesday to see the majestic raptors and to learn more about the Philippine Eagle conservation project. PND