CONTRIBUTIONS TO PH-JAPAN TIES. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (2nd from left) witnesses the Japanese government's conferment of "The Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun" on former Senate president Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr. (4th from left) at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacañan Palace on Friday (Nov. 25, 2022). During the ceremony, Marcos recognized Villar's significant role in strengthening the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan. (Photo courtesy of PBBM's official Facebook page)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has commended business tycoon and former Senate president Manuel "Manny" Villar for his key role in the improved relations between the Philippines and Japan.

This was after Marcos witnessed the Japanese government's conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun on Villar in a ceremony held at Malacañan Palace's Ceremonial Hall on Friday.

"Isang pagpupugay sa iyong pagkakahirang at naging kontribusyon sa ating bansa. Mabuhay ka (We pay homage to your contribution to our country. Long live)," Marcos said in a Facebook post on Friday night, as he shared several photos of the ceremonial awarding.

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa, on behalf of the government of Japan, bestowed the award on Villar, state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) said in a separate Facebook post.

Also present during the ceremony were Villar's wife, Senator Cynthia Villar, and children, Senator Mark Villar, House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar, and Vista Land president and chief executive officer Manuel Paolo Villar III.

Presidential son and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander "Sandro" Marcos also graced the event.

The Japanese government confers the Order of the Rising Sun, a Japanese decoration of honor, on individuals from both Japanese and foreign nationals who have made distinguished achievements in their field, as well as meritorious service and contributions to the advancement of Japan in a variety of areas except military service.

It was on April 29, 2022 when the Japanese Embassy in Manila announced the awarding of the Order of the Rising Sun to Villar, in recognition of his contributions to deepening the economic ties between Tokyo and Manila.

During the ceremony, Marcos recognized Villar's vital role in strengthening the Philippines' bilateral relations with Japan, RTVM said.

"The President recognizes Villar’s significant contribution to the current strong bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan," it said.

Marcos, RTVM said, also reaffirmed the administration's resolve to further bolster the bilateral ties between the two countries and explore potential areas of collaboration.

"He also expresses willingness to explore different areas of cooperation with Japan and affirms his commitment to sustain the trajectory of diplomatic ties between the two nations," it added.

During Villar’s term as Senate president, the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) and the Protocol Amending the Convention Between Japan and the Philippines for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Income Taxes were ratified in October and September 2008, respectively.

He also supported the ratification of the agreement on technical cooperation between the Philippines and Japan, which was adopted through a Senate Resolution in March 2011. (PNA)