MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has emphasized the importance of deepening the Philippines' strong ties with Singapore, especially in the areas of trade and investment, defense and security, education, and cultural exchanges.
Marcos made the remark when he received the credentials of Singaporean Ambassador to the Philippines Constance See Sin Yuan at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Thursday.
He said the Philippines and Singapore share a “deep-rooted history of collaboration and cooperation” in various areas of mutual interest.
“Our bilateral relations have flourished over the past five decades, encompassing trade and investment, defense and security, education, and cultural exchanges,” he told Yuan.
“As we go through this transition period where we have to adjust to the new global economy, we still look at Singapore to be our very strong partner,” he added.
Marcos also recognized the two nations' robust economic ties, noting that Singapore remains "one of the Philippines’ most important trade and investment partners."
"In 2022, our total bilateral trade reached USD13 billion. In addition, Singapore was our largest source of approved investments amounting to USD 2.4 billion in 2022,” he said.
Marcos also emphasized the further strengthening of the Philippines’ engagements with Singapore in combating terrorism and national crimes.
He noted that under his administration, the agreement for the Philippines' participation in Singapore-led Regional Counter-Terrorism Information Facility (CTIF) and the deal on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief have been signed.
He also cited that the “active" bilateral ties have been further bolstered by the successful state visit of Singaporean President Halimah Yacob to the Philippines in 2019 for the golden jubilee celebration of the two countries' diplomatic ties.
“Such high-level visits of our government officials attest to our flourishing ties and our high regard for Singapore as a bilateral and regional partner,” Marcos said, also citing his successful visit to Singapore last year.
“Our increasing people-to-people ties continue to strengthen our bridges of understanding and friendship through cultural exchanges and capacity-building programs,” he added.
Yuan agreed that the state visits by the two nations’ leaders were key to strengthening their relations.
“I think the state visit gave a lot of momentum to our cooperation, including in the emerging areas like fintech (financial technology), sustainability and energy as well. So, we're keen to move forward on all these,” she said.
Yuan also shared her plans to explore new areas of bilateral cooperation.
“Our future in this region depends on our response to these opportunities and challenges together. We are confident that under your leadership, the Philippines and Singapore will continue its close cooperation and our bilateral relations will continue to flourish,” she told Marcos.
“So, we are extremely happy at the state of our relationship and my brief stay here is really to continue to bolster the trade and investment as you mentioned including in emerging areas and to look for other areas of cooperation. We want to be partners. We are invested in the Philippines,” she added.
Marcos also noted that the two countries, as co-founders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are partners in advancing key issues in regional and international fora amid the "shifting winds of geopolitics and great power rivalries."
Before presenting her credentials to Marcos, Yuan was accorded arrival honors and signed the Palace guestbook.
Diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Singapore were established in 1969.
The two countries will celebrate their 55th anniversary in 2024.
Outgoing Czech Republic envoy's farewell call
Meantime, outgoing Czech Republic Ambassador to the Philippines Jana Sediva paid a farewell call to Marcos, based on a video uploaded on the official Facebook page of state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM).
Sediva concluded her diplomatic posting to the country after three years.
One of her recent activities before her diplomatic work ended was the launching of a book titled "Kaibigan – Pratele: Czech – Philippine Cultural and Diplomatic Dialogue", a collaboration among Czech and Filipino writers and scholars.
The book commemorates the long-standing friendship and relives the shared history between the two countries.
The Philippines and Czech Republic will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations this October. (PNA)