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Published September 14, 2022, 12:05 AM
by Manila Bulletin
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. summed up the results of his state visits to Indonesia and Singapore in his arrival speech: “I am proud to announce that we have signed and sealed a total of 10 letters of intent and 12 MOUs (memorandum of understandings) in the sectors of renewable energy, data centers, e-commerce, broadband technology, startups, government housing and agriculture, and witnessed the signing of several letters of intent and MOUs from 22 Indonesian and Singaporean investors.”
He described his visits as “fruitful and engaging.”He signed several pacts covering various areas of cooperation, which, he said, can be translated to $14.36 billion or ₱804.78 billion in investment pledges.
Beyond these quantifiable gains, the twin visits served to strengthen the ties that bind Filipinos with Indonesians and Singaporeans, owing to decades of diplomatic relations and bonding as original members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Presidents Marcos and Widodo affirmed their countries’ adherence to the concept of delimitation, a primary rule of international law in which “the boundary between nations (is) calculated by Marine Regions and defined as the Median Line – or the line connecting points which are located at equal distance from both coastal states.” This agreement is significant as it establishes a template for resolving potential conflicting claims in the South China Sea.
The two countries’ bilateral relations, covering all facets of their relations, particularly defense, security, maritime cooperation, trade and investment, and people to people ties were comprehensively discussed.
President Marcos spotlighted on the Indonesian government’s initiative in establishing centers or malls for marketing the products of local entrepreneurs. Micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) would be given a similar venue to showcase and promote the Department of Trade and Industry’s One Town,
One Product (OTOP) initiative. The program enables localities and communities to determine, develop, support, and promote products or services that are rooted in its local culture, community resource,
For Singapore, he said his meetings with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong have highlighted the “deep and enduring friendship between our two countries.” President Yacob recalled her visit to Manila in 2019 to mark the golden jubilee of diplomatic relations. Marcos and Lee follow in the footsteps of their fathers who were co-founders of ASEAN in 1967. They witnessed the signing and exchange of agreements on counter terrorism, personal data protection, digital cooperation, water resource management, and investment.
Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$16.5 billion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 17.2 percent. Singapore was the Philippines’ largest foreign investor in 2021, with investments totaling US$1.5 billion. At least 15,000 jobs for Filipinos are expected to be generated from the $6.54 billion or ₱374.57 billion worth of investments secured during the visit.
Both countries have likewise reaffirmed their strong people-to-people ties that thrived even during the Covid-19 pandemic. These are the ties that bind, endure and secure the stability of international relations.
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