Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Singapore’s first female president Halimah Yacob held a meeting in Malacanang yesterday, in which they discussed mostly economic co-operation.
Their meeting took place on the first day of Halimah’s five-day state visit to the Philippines, in which she visits both the capital city of Manila and Duterte bailiwick Davao City in the south, Rappler.com reported.
The visit marks the golden jubilee or 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Singapore.
The two leaders witnessed the signing of eight agreements between agencies and ministers in their governments.
Before the signing of these agreements, the two presidents and ministers or agency heads held a bilateral meeting.
Afterwards, they gave their joint statements before members of the media.
Halimah thanked the Philippine government for the hospitality and “lovely arrangements” she received while in Manila.
“I told President Duterte that we deeply appreciate the contributions of the Philippine community to Singapore’s society and economy,” Halimah said of the 200,000 Filipinos living, working, and studying in her country.
She said the two countries can still do a lot to further co-operation in the “next chapter” of their diplomatic relations.
“I am confident that the next chapter of Singapore-Philippines relations will be marked by deeper friendship and closer collaboration between our peoples and our two countries,” she said. Singapore is a big contributor to the Philippine economy. It was the second biggest source of foreign investments in 2018, committing P21.18bn or 11.8% of total foreign pledges. It is the Philippines’ fifth biggest export market, seventh top import supplier, and also the ninth top source of tourists.
Aside from speaking about boosting economic exchanges and co-operation in agriculture, education, tourism, and other sectors, Halimah expressed Singapore’s commitment to working with the Philippines in bringing about a “strong, united, and integrated” Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Philippines and Singapore belong to the regional bloc. Duterte, meanwhile, proudly updated Halimah about the newly created Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The formation of its government and the passage of the law that created it is seen as a major accomplishment by his administration.
“We discussed ways by which our co-operation can help contribute in bringing just and lasting peace and meaningful progress and development in Mindanao, one of the greatest and most crucial undertakings that our nation has embarked,” said Duterte. He said he also discussed “deepening” defence and security co-operation between Singapore and the Philippines through “strengthening defence dialogues and training exchanges between the military and special forces.”
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