MANILA – The Philippines' continued partnership with China will help the country succeed in the fight against the prevailing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Friday.
During the formal ceremony for the second batch of laureates of the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding at Dusit Thani Manila in Makati City, Marcos acknowledged China as the Philippines' "strongest" partner and a "good friend".
Marcos emphasized the need to maintain the Philippines' good relations with its allies to ensure the country's solid recovery from pandemic shock.
"Certainly in the Philippines, we can only do it with our partners and our strongest partner has always been, in that regard, our close neighbor and our good friend, the People's Republic of China," Marcos said in his speech.
Marcos said it is impossible for a country to "make its own way" to beat Covid-19.
He expressed confidence that the cooperation between the Philippines and its allies would give the country a “bright future”.
"I truly believe that it is the partnerships and alliances that we as a country will make with our friends and allies and partners around the world that will keep the stability of our economic recovery," Marcos said.
He said the synergy that will come from the cooperation is what will bring the country forward to a bright future and to the day when Filipinos can confidently say “beyond the pandemic crisis, we are beyond the economic crisis brought [about] by the pandemic”.
Marcos said he is optimistic that the Philippines and China’s relations would continue to improve under his watch, as he intends to grab the opportunity to “grow closer” with Beijing.
“So, how do I see the future between China and the Philippines? I see the future of China and the Philippines developing in many ways that maybe we do not see now. I will encourage our relationship to not only be in the very strict and formal senses of business, or government to government, or public-private partnerships,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that the country would succeed in its fight against Covid-19, given the established “close global cooperation”.
On Monday, Marcos met with his economic team to tackle his administration’s priorities to ensure the country’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Independent foreign policy
Meantime, he vowed to continue the independent foreign policy of his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte
“Perhaps, we will continue what President Duterte started which has been described as an independent foreign policy. And this is what we feel is best for the national interest,” he said.
Duterte’s independent foreign policy, as explained by top officials, means “being friend to all and enemy to none”.
The main consideration of Duterte’s policy is the interests and welfare of Filipinos.
Marcos agreed that Duterte’s independent foreign policy will benefit the Philippines and its allies.
“I think it is to be advantageous not only to our friends in China, but to all our friends around the world. So with that in mind, I encourage you all to continue the work to strengthen these relationships,” he said.
The Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) is the pioneer and the leading non-government organization in the Philippines promoting people-to-people diplomacy, bilateral understanding, and friendship between the Philippines and China.
The awards extend recognition, acknowledgment, and appreciation to individuals who made a mark and contributed much to the improvement and advancement of Philippines-China bilateral relations, understanding, and friendship.
Any Filipino national in any field of work or study is qualified.
The late Philippine Ambassador to China, Jose Santiago Sta. Romana, former President Joseph Estrada, and nine others were recognized this year for "fostering and promoting understanding" between the Philippines and China.
Sta. Romana was given the posthumous special award “Gawad Sultan Paduka Pahala”, accepted by his son, Christopher.
"Our family is deeply touched and honored by the gesture of the granting of this special award, the Gawad Sultan Paduka Pahala, by this award-giving body," he said in a speech, as he recalled the last interview of his father in April 2022.
"This was his answer to the interview question what was he most proud of and how would he like to be remembered: Looking back, it was a rare privilege to serve as the Philippines Ambassador to China and contribute to the turnaround and significant improvement in our bilateral relations. There have been numerous milestones and achievements during the course of my diplomatic assignment but if there's one thing I am proud of it is this: to play the frontline role in building a bridge of friendship and cooperation between the Filipino and Chinese people that transcends any differences and contribute to regional stability and prosperity. For after all, what is diplomacy for if not to serve people and promote the country's interests?"
The late envoy passed away while in quarantine in China on April 18.
The 10 APCU laureates for 2022 are:
- Francisco Benedicto, former Philippine Ambassador to China
- Wilson Lee Flores, Kamuning Bakery Café founder
- Rodrigo Kapunan, Manila Standard columnist and China Daily Global Edition and Global Times contributor
- Mauro Gia Samonte, Manila Times columnist and book author
- Princess Jacel Kiram of the Sultanate of Sulu, Philsilat (Pencak Silat) Sports Association and International Center for Peace, Reconciliation and Development president
- Paul Gutierrez, National Press Club secretary and publisher
- Prof. Cavin Franco Pamintuan, Philippine Director of Confucius Institute at Angeles University Foundation
- Prof. Celso Cainglet, senior lecturer at the University of the Philippines Visayas
- April Marie Dayap, chief of Davao City Investment and Promotion Center
In a speech, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian congratulated the awardees and noted the need to deepen friendship between the countries.
"The everlasting friendship between the Chinese and Philippine people is an inexhaustible driving force for the long-term development of our bilateral relations," he said. "Let us commit together to steering our relationship in the right direction, deepen our mutually beneficial cooperation, and an even brighter future for China-Philippines relations." (PNA)