MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. reaffirmed to strengthen bilateral ties between the Philippines and South Korea, as both countries celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations with each other.
“As we celebrate the Republic of Korea’s National Day and 70 years of fruitful cooperation and friendship, we reaffirm the determination of our government and people to work with the government of South Korea in taking our friendship further, forward, and upward,” Locsin said in his speech during the reception of the National Day and Armed Forces Day of the Republic of Korea at the Makati Shangri-La, Manila on Tuesday evening.
Locsin lauded the intensified engagements between the two countries in defense modernization and capacity building, which “feeds into our aspirations for shared peace, stability” in the East Asian region.
He also recognized the Philippine veterans’ push for freedom and democracy, as they were among the first to assist South Korea in the Korean War.
“We join our Korean friends in marking Armed Forces Day. We honor the service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. Philippine-ROK relations were solidified with mortal mixed with blood and brotherhood,” Locsin said.
“Today, 70 years after we forged diplomatic relations, it gratifies us to see Philippine-Korean ties continue to grow, nurtured by the same values that we ardently defended,” he added.
South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man likewise thanked the Filipino soldiers for their contributions during the Korean war from 1950 to 1953.
“We reiterate our deep gratitude. Korea will not enjoy this democracy and economic prosperity without their sacrifice, and dedication. For the past 70 years, Korea and the Philippines have enjoyed an excellent relationship,” he said in his speech.
He said South Korea pledges to boost contributions to the Philippine economy by expanding trade and foreign investment inflows, as well as bringing in more tourists.
“Approaching the conclusion of our new bilateral trade agreement, which is poised to be signed by the end of November on the outstanding leadership of our two presidents, I’m confident this bilateral deal will further enhance our ties and both our economies,” Han said.
He also said that whenever he meets with South Korean businessmen, he urges them to “invest, invest, invest in the Philippines and President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program.”
South Korea is the Philippines’ fourth-largest trading partner, with total trade reaching USD15.6 billion in 2018, Locsin said.
Last year, Korean visitors to the Philippines totaled 1.6 million and Han pledged to the President to increase the volume.
“I made a promise to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to bring up this number to 2 million per year during my term,” Han said. (PR)