Duterte: Solidarity, mutual aid hallmark of PH-SoKor ties
BUSAN, South Korea – President Rodrigo R. Duterte lauded the bond between the people of the Philippines and the Republic of Korea (ROK) that has never been strong in no other time of both countries’ shared history.
“Solidarity and mutual aid have been the hallmark of our ties since 1950. It touches us that this remains so,” Duterte said during the bilateral meeting with ROK President Moon Jae-in at the Westin Chosun Busan Hotel on Monday.
Duterte did not miss the opportunity to thank the South Korean government for its USD100,00 donation for the earthquake victims in Mindanao in October.
The past seven years, he said, have witnessed the rising level of both countries’ interaction with cooperation encompassing various spheres — from trade, investment, and official development assistance (ODA) to infrastructure development, defense, science, technology, and agriculture.
“Our economies took diverging paths and fortunes. The Republic of Korea rose to become one of Asia’s economic and technological powerhouses. Ours faltered, but with perseverance, the Philippines has since recovered and is now [a] well-performing, emerging economy,” he said.
He added that in 2018, ROK was Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to over 13 billion dollars, and was a valued source of foreign direct investments, ranking 13th in the same year.
“The Philippines and the Republic of Korea share a unique affinity. We became blood brothers in the 1950s on the altar of freedom. In 1980, the world watched as we waged a parallel struggle for democracy,” Duterte said during the first day of the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit here that marks the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-ROK Dialogue Relations.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in hold a bilateral meeting at The Westin Chosun Busan Hotel on November 25, 2019. (Presidential photo of Robinson Niñal Jr.)
As both countries commemorate 70 years of meaningful bilateral relations this year, Duterte assured that the Philippines will continue to find common cause and purpose with the Republic of Korea towards enhancing our bilateral engagement and promoting peace and stability in your region.
Meanwhile, South Korean President said Duterte’s visit comes at a very meaningful time as the two countries celebrate their 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“The Philippines was the first among ASEAN countries to establish diplomatic relations with Korea and also the first to dispatch troops to fight on our side during the Korean War,” Jae-in said.
The Philippines sent more than 7,000 soldiers to help defend South Korea from North Korean invasion from 1950 to 1953.
“I’d like to express my profound gratitude to the people of the Philippines for their lasting friendship over the past 70 years and to you Mr. President (Duterte) for your great affection for Korea,” he said.
He added that the time is right for both countries to think about elevating its relations to a strategic partnership that will pave the way to engage in greater cooperation that will lead to common prosperity.
Many cultural exchange events held in Korea, including concerts, film festivals, and exhibitions brought the Korean people closer to the Philippines after the two countries designated 2019 as the year of mutual exchanges during Duterte’s visit in May last year, he added.
“The Korean people love the Philippines. Koreans are the number one visitors to the Philippines,” he said.
Department of Tourism’s January-September 2019 report showed that Korea remains the biggest source of visitors for the Philippines, reaching 1,450,792 arrivals — 20.97 percent growth compared to the same period last year. Korean tourists make up 23.55 percent of the total tourist arrivals.
Jae-in added that bilateral trade volume surpassed the 15 billion US dollar mark for the first time last year not to mention the numerous Korean companies are doing business in the Philippines, including in the fields of energy, electricity, electronics, textiles, shipbuilding.
He lauded Duterte’s leadership for making the Philippines as the future of ASEAN as it continues to achieve an impressive growth rate of 6 percent each year.
“I hope to strengthen my friendship with you and expand our bilateral cooperation to contribute further to the development of ASEAN,” he said.
Duterte and Moon also witnessed the signing of three agreements that include the Social Security Agreement; Implementation Program of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Tourism Cooperation; and Joint Statement by the ROK and Philippines on the Early Achievement Package of the Negotiations of the Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
Likewise, the MOU on Cooperation in Fisheries and MOU on Cooperation in the Field of Education were signed on the sidelines of the ceremony.
Before their bilateral meeting, Duterte met with officials from various South Korean companies. (PNA)