President Rodrigo Roa Duterte accepted the credentials of five new ambassadors to the country in a virtual ceremony in Malacañang on Friday, June 19, hoping stronger ties with the countries or state they represent.
In a statement, President Duterte affirmed the Philippines’ “friendly and cooperative” ties with the State of Palestine, New Zealand, Canada, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as he received the credentials of their respective ambassadors.
In receiving the credentials of Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad, the new ambassador of the State of Palestine, President Duterte conveyed the Filipino people’s warmest welcome to him for being the first envoy assigned in the country after the re-establishment of their embassy in Manila last year.
The Chief Executive stressed that Palestine’s decision to re-open its embassy “marks a new chapter in Philippines-Palestine relations, which hopefully will lead to fruitful engagement in various areas of mutual interest.”
Ambassador Saleh Mohammad, for his part, expressed the warm greetings of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the President and the Filipino people. He vowed to foster friendly ties and cooperation between Palestine and the Philippines during his tenure.
President Duterte also accepted the credentials of Ambassador Peter Francis Tavita Kell of New Zealand. According to the President, the Philippines is particularly interested in pursuing cooperation with New Zealand in geothermal energy development as well as in deepening engagement in defense and security, especially in maritime security and combating terrorism and transnational crimes.
Ambassador Kell committed to strengthen Philippines-New Zealand relations during his tour of duty in the country.
In accepting the credentials of Ambassador James Peter MacArthur of Canada, the President expressed hope that his tenure in Manila will lead to more robust and wide-ranging cooperation, especially in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), trade and investments, maritime security and marine environmental protection, development issues, agriculture, and education.
He lauded the North American country as “an old friend and important development partner.”
In response, Ambassador MacArthur congratulated the President on his “signature achievements” including the peace agreement and establishment of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Universal Healthcare Act, and “Build, Build, Build” program.
With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, the envoy stressed that Canada and the Philippines “stand shoulder to shoulder” in combating the disease.
In welcoming Iranian Ambassador Alireza Tootoonchian, the President expressed hope for “stronger bilateral ties, particularly in science and technology and people-to- people exchanges.”
He conveyed his deep appreciation to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for pardoning a Filipino national who was imprisoned in Iran.
Ambassador Tootoonchian, for his part, conveyed the best wishes of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his invitation for the President to visit Iran.
The Philippines, the Iranian envoy said, “enjoys a special standing in Iran because of the country’s independent foreign policy, particularly under President Duterte, and its advocacy for peaceful co- existence among peoples of different faiths.”
Also welcomed by the President was Viet Nam’s Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung, hailing the Asian country “as an important friend and neighbor.”
Citing strategic partnership, President Duterte stressed that the Philippines and Viet Nam “should continue working closely together to promote peace and security in the region, especially in the maritime sphere.”
“We count on Viet Nam’s continued support for our advocacy for the rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes, and keeping the global commons – particularly in our region’s maritime space – free and open,” the President said.
The Filipino leader also reaffirmed the Philippines’ readiness to enhance cooperation with Viet Nam, bilaterally and through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and fast track economic recovery under the new normal.
For his part, the ambassador conveyed the warmest greetings of President Nguyen Phu Trong to President Duterte.
He noted that the elevation of Viet Nam-Philippines relations to a strategic partnership in 2015 ushered a new era for bilateral cooperation.
This is the first time President Duterte held a presentation of credentials ceremony through a teleconference call as part of the “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. PND