Five new ambassadors presented their credentials to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday with the Philippine leader expressing hope of forging stronger ties in areas of mutual interest such as trade, defense, climate change and combating the coronavirus pandemic.
In welcoming the ambassador of the European Union (EU) to the Philippines Luc Veron, President Duterte said deep respect for democracy and the rule of law by the EU and the Philippines will serve as a solid foundation for robust cooperation on the basis of mutual trust, respect and benefit.
Decades-long relationship between the EU and the Philippines should continue to redefine, refine and reinforce ties in the face of new challenges and opportunities, the President said during the event held in Malacañang.
“Our priority is to intensify trade and investment through a free trade agreement,” President Duterte said.
“We wish to partner with the EU to protect and promote all rights of all, especially the human rights of migrant workers.”
The Philippines is also ready to enhance cooperation with the EU on climate change and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, he said, adding the EU and the Philippines must work together to hold to account those responsible for climate change as well as build community resilience and preparedness.
President Duterte expressed his gratitude for EU’s support for the country’s justice sector and peace building and development efforts in Mindanao, particularly the Bangsamoro.
The President also welcomed French Ambassador Michèle Boccoz. In accepting the credentials of Ambassador Boccoz, the chief executive appreciated France’s active participation in the country’s defense modernization and “Build, Build, Build” programs.
Underscoring the need for a closer bilateral collaboration, President Duterte said, “We are interested in further expanding ties, particularly in defense, trade and investments, public health and tourism.”
“We also look forward to enhanced cooperation on climate change and sustainable development, environmental protection, migration and migrant workers’ rights, gender justice, and combatting transnational crimes, including cybersecurity and counterterrorism.”
Brazil’s Ambassador Antonio Jośe Maria De Souza e Silva also presented his credentials to President Duterte.
Describing Brazil as an old friend and partner, President Duterte said there’s room for growth in Brazil-Philippine relationship and the horizon is wide and bright for the two countries.
“Let us work together to intensify bilateral trade and investment exchanges during your tenure, especially in agriculture, biofuels, Business Process Outsourcing and logistics,” he told the new Brazilian ambassador.
“Let us also continue to work together to ensure universal access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This is a principled position which we should continue to push and demand in all available fora.”
He welcomed Brazil’s delivery of six new A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) last year, noting the country’s defense partnership with Brazil is very important.
President Duterte was also pleased to accept the credentials of South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Kim In-Chul, stressing South Korea is a valued friend and partner.
He told the South Korean envoy that for over the past seven decades, the ties between the two countries have grown from strength to greater strength.
“And together we continue to achieve more. Today, we remain committed to pursue shared aspirations for our peoples,” he said.
“Let us sustain the momentum of our robust cooperation in trade and investment, sustainable development, infrastructure and [integration], and defense.”
He thanked South Korea’s exceptional commitment to the administration’s Build, Build, Build program and for its support for the Philippines’s defense modernization program.
At the same time, President Duterte appreciated South Korea’s solidarity with the Philippines in battling the coronavirus pandemic, especially its timely provision of testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and rice.
Marcela Ordoñez Fernandez, Colombia’s new ambassador to the Philippines was also welcomed by the President Wednesday.
“Let us deepen bilateral and regional engagement, with Colombia’s recent accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC),” President Duterte told Ambassador Fernandez.
“We are ready to further enhance cooperation particularly in trade and investment, defense and in addressing non-traditional security issues, including terrorism and violent extremism, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes.”
The Philippine government is also interested in cooperating on matters regarding peace process, given Colombia’s experience in forging a peace deal with the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Through solidarity and cooperation, the Philippine leader said the two countries will continue to build upon the gains of their longstanding friendship particularly in surmounting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. PND