Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Facebook photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Saturday pledged to improve the Philippines’ relations with Cambodia as the two countries celebrate the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

In his letter to Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni dated August 20, Marcos expressed his resolve to further boost the “enduring friendship” between the Philippines and Cambodia.

“I am committed to further strengthening and expanding our partnership and cooperation, as both our countries strive towards greater economic and social development for the benefit of our peoples,” Marcos said.

The Philippines and Cambodia established their official diplomatic relations on Aug. 20, 1957.

Marcos said while the two countries’ diplomatic ties were formalized in 1957, the visit of His Majesty King Norodom the First to the Philippines in 1872 established the connection “between our nations and peoples”.

“Our ties have developed steadily through the years, with sustained bilateral engagements in the political, security, economic, socio-cultural and educational areas, and cooperation in regional and international fora. Our people-to-people exchanges also continue to add strength to our enduring friendship,” the President said.

Marcos also relayed his best wishes for Sihamoni’s “continued good health and happiness”.

'Progressive, sustainable future'

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo similarly expressed optimism that the two countries’ relations would continue to expand, given their shared aspirations of a "peaceful, progressive, and sustainable future" for their peoples.

Echoing Marcos' message, Manalo said Manila and Phnom Penh have enhanced bilateral ties through partnerships in various fields.

"Likewise, the long-standing exchanges between our two peoples, which predates our modern states, continue to serve as the enduring foundation of our bilateral relations," he said in a letter to his Cambodian counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.

Manalo said the DFA would work closely with Cambodia to draw the two countries closer through "mutually beneficial endeavors" and the latter's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this year.

In 2016, cooperation agreements in the areas of labor, sports, combating transnational crimes, and tourism were signed during the state visit of former president Rodrigo Duterte to Cambodia.

To date, there are more than 7,000 Filipinos living and working in Cambodia, most of whom belong to the skilled labor sector, based on the latest data from the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh. (PNA)