Duterte welcomes Singapore’s first female President

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed Singapore's first female President, Halimah Yacob, and her delegation in MalacaAang on Monday afternoon to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Singapore.

Yacob and her delegation were accorded an official indoor welcome ceremony after the outdoor ceremony was canceled due to rains.

The two leaders held an expanded bilateral agreement and witnessed the exchange of eight agreements between their countries.

They also unveiled the official logo and commemorative stamps for the anniversary of their foreign relations.

In his press statement after the bilateral meeting, Duterte bared that he and Yacob discussed ways to advance cooperation in areas of defense and security and trade and investment.

We talked about deepening our cooperation in defense and security, which includes strengthening defense dialogues and training exchanges between the military and special forces, Duterte said in his speech.

President Yacob and I committed to further intensify trade and investment links, mindful of the goals we have set for ourselves under the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan or PSAP, he added.

Duterte noted that he also sought Singapore's further cooperation in agriculture, education and training, science and technology, tourism and cultural exchanges.

He said he also took the opportunity to share with Yacob the country's gains in peace and development in Mindanao, particularly progress in establishing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

We discussed ways by which our cooperation could help contribute in bringing just and lasting peace and meaningful progress and development in Mindanao � one of the greatest and most crucial undertakings that our nation has embarked [upon], Duterte said.

Room to boost trade, investment

Yacob, for her part, described Philippine-Singaporean ties as strong and robust but agreed with Duterte that the two countries can do even more together.

The economic ties between our two countries are strong and robust. But President Duterte and I agreed that we can do even more together. There is room to further boost trade and investment flows, Yacob said.

She vowed to work closely together in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) to promote continued dialogue.

I am confident that the next chapter of Singapore-Philippines relations will be marked by deeper friendships and closer collaboration between our peoples and our two countries, she added.

She hoped to make progress on updating the Singapore-Philippines avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and the expansion of the Bilateral Air Transport Agreement, which will increase connectivity and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth.

Meanwhile, Yacob also expressed appreciation to the contributions of the Filipino community to Singapore's society and economy.

She noted that there are more than 200,000 Filipinos living, working, and studying in Singapore.

The Singaporean leader said she was also looking forward to meeting members of the Singaporean community in the Philippines this week.

She also emphasized Singapore and the Philippines's shared aspiration for lasting peace and prosperity in the region.

Singapore is currently the Philippine's second highest source of investments in 2018, committing a total of PHP21.18 billion, or 11.8% of total foreign pledges.

It is also the Philippine's seventh largest trading partner with two-way trade at USD10.49 billion.

Yacob is on a five-day state visit to the Philippines where she is also expected to visit Davao City for a tour in the Philippine Eagle Foundation and a dialogue with Mindanao youth. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency