By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is enthusiastic about strengthening the Philippines’ relationship with the Republic of Korea (ROK) as he plans to take the friendship of the two Asian countries “to a whole new level.”
Duterte made the statement during his departure speech before he left for his three-day visit to Seoul in South Korea late Saturday.
According to Duterte, he will work on taking the cooperation between the Philippines and South Korea to a whole new level, adding that the Philippines has a lot to learn from its Asian neighbor in terms of economy.
“In my talks with President Moon Jae-in, I will explore ways to bring cooperation to a whole new level. This will be based on respect for sovereign equality and for the democratic ideals that we both fought hard to secure,” he said.
“There is much to learn from South Korea’s experience and expertise. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges, the Republic of Korea successfully transformed itself into one of the most advanced and progressive economies [in] the world,” he added.
Duterte lauded how the two countries remain to stand by stand in defense of freedom and democracy for 70 years. He said the Philippines is now ready for a new chapter in its friendship with South Korea.
“Today, we stand shoulder to shoulder in advancing our shared aspirations and in facing threats to our nations, our peoples and in our region,” he said.
“As a long-standing partner, the Republic of Korea has already joined the Philippines in our efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic development growth,” he added.
“Yet, there is much room for even healthier growth across the areas of mutual interests. The Philippines stands ready to write a new chapter of closer ties, deeper amity and more comprehensive collaboration with South Korea,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Duterte reassured the public that all efforts to seek a reinvigorated partnership with South Korea, and all other countries, is grounded on national interest, common goals, and adherence to time-honored principles of international law.
“I hope to return with greater gains for our country as we forge a stronger friendship with South Korea. All these, I shall duly report to you upon my return,” he said.
Duterte plans on having a productive meeting with President Moon. Moon invited Duterte to visit South Korea at the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Manila last November.
“I will emphasize the importance of strengthening our partnership in defense and security, trade and investments, and political cooperation,” he said.
“I will likewise stress the need to work together to help achieve greater security by addressing conventional and emerging threats to stability in our [region],” he added.
Aside from Moon, Duterte said he will also meet and encourage Korean business leaders to invest in the country.
“I will meet with Korean business leaders and encourage them to be our responsible partners in our pursuit of economic growth. This way, they can actively contribute to our objective of providing a comfortable life for our people,” he said.
Duterte also cited South Korea’s big role in the rehabilitation of Marawi City after being torn by the government’s five-month war against ISIS-inspired terrorists last year.
“[They can help] A lot. Maybe we can have a cheaper price, investments which are coming in. A lot of Korean enterprises are there in Mindanao for agricultural endeavors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte said that he is looking forward to meeting the members of the Filipino community on Tuesday to thank them for their sacrifice and contrubtion to the country’s economy.
“As always, I will meet with the Filipino Community and thank them for their sacrifice for the sake of their families and for their contributions to our nation’s socio-economic development,” he said.