Philippines, India ink four cooperation deals
President Rodrigo Duterte and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind witnessed on Friday the exchange of four agreements to enhance the cooperation of the two countries.
This was after the two leaders held a bilateral meeting in Malacanang where they discussed issues of mutual interest.
The agreements include memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation; program of cooperation in the fields of science and technology for 2019-2022; MOU between the Philippine Coast Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to enhance maritime security through sharing of information on non-military and non-government shipping vessels; and cultural exchange programme for the years 2019-2023.
In the joint press statement, Duterte welcomed India's role in the defense capability upgrade program against the backdrop of growing security cooperation.
"As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains. We agreed also to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats," he said.
He also thanked India for helping the Philippines in rebuilding Marawi, which was devastated during the five-month battle between the government forces and terrorist group in 2017, "without precondition, delay or hesitation."
He said the two countries also vowed to cooperate more to complement each other's strengths in the field of global infotech and business processing outsourcing industries.
With its ties now with India, Duterte said the Philippines is diversifying partnership, "rebalancing old ones and strengthening those that have traditionally been on the margins of our diplomacy."
For his part, Kovind conveyed India's "deepest condolences" for the families of those who perished in the earthquake in Mindanao as he wished a speedy recovery to those affected.
"We have decided to explore both our common future through cooperation in space as well as the past through research of the history of our civilization and commonalities in our culture and tradition. We look forward to receive experts from the Philippines to India to research and document our ancient links," he said.
He added that the two countries are exploring to start direct flights amid growing number of Indian tourists to the Philippines.
The Indian leader also expressed hope more Filipino tourists will visit India.
Kovind's state visit came as the two countries mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their formal diplomatic ties this year.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $2.32 billion and has been increasing.
The amount of Indian investment in the Philippines is valued at more than $900 million.
"India has a strong presence in pharma (generics), and its collaboration in the BPO sector in the country has grown exponentially," Panelo said. Celerina Monte/DMS