THE Philippines and South Korea signed five bilateral agreements on Monday in a bid to strengthen ties between the two states.
President Rodrigo Duterte and his counterpart, Moon Jae-in, presided over the ceremonial signing of these agreements during the Philippine leader’s visit to Seoul.
Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña and the Minister of Science and Information and Communication Technology You Young Min signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Scientific and Technological Cooperation.
An MOU on trade and economic cooperation was signed by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Ungyu.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Paik then signed an MOU for cooperation on the expansion of renewable energy deployment.
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Kim Hyun-mee also penned an MOU.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd and Export-Import Bank of Korea Chairman Eun Sung-soo signed a loan agreement for the upcoming Cebu port.
In their joint statement, Duterte voiced the importance of the bilateral agreements in ushering in “a new era of stronger cooperation and partnership.”
“This Official Visit is important as it underscores the long-standing ties and the common commitment of both the Philippines and the Republic of Korea to work together in achieving greater things for our nations,” Duterte said.
“As we have a shared past, so too do we have a shared future. It is clear to me that we need stronger cooperation and more dynamic collaboration in order to achieve our goals,” Duterte said.
Duterte also said his summit meeting with Moon was very productive and that matters of “paramount” importance to both countries’ relations were discussed.
“This includes political and economic cooperation, defense and security, trade and investments, infrastructure, information and smart technologies, agriculture, protection of our nationals, and the environment,” Duterte said.
“This expanded and more comprehensive partnership is needed to bring our relations forward [in]this modern century,” Duterte said.
Duterte also said he and Moon also agreed to help address traditional and emerging threats.
“President Moon and I likewise emphasized the need for security and stability in the region. After all, these are the foundations of solid growth for both our nations,” Duterte said.
For his part, Moon lauded Duterte and Korea’s “special friend,” for the agreements.
Moon said there would be more meetings between high-level officials from the two countries in the days to come, including on the leaders’ level, which may lead to closer cooperation.
The activation of a high-level consultation mechanism will be necessary “to ensure full and swift implementation of the outcome” of the meetings, Moon said.
“The Republic of Korea will actively participate in the national developments of the Philippines. In particular, I look forward to seeing the Korean companies’ participation further expanded in the fields of transportation, energy and infrastructure through our cooperation in the new industries such as infocommunications as well as science and technology. We will create the growth engine for the future together,” Moon said.
Moon also commended Duterte’s leadership in the Philippine economy, which enabled “rapid economic growth and social stability,” and in turn, drawing great support from the Filipinos.
Moon said it was agreed upon that more people from both countries would visit more frequently, in order to enhance the break barriers.
“The total number of respective visitors has now surpassed the two million mark, while Koreans are the most frequent visitors to the Philippines today, among all other foreigners,” Moon said.
The year 2019, which marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the countries’ diplomatic relations, was also designated as the year of mutual exchanges between Korea and the Philippines.