By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is back in the country after enhancing the country’s ties with South Korea (SoKor) and backing efforts for peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
The President had a “productive” participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit in Busan, Malacañang said Tuesday shortly after Duterte’s arrival in Manila.
Meeting to celebrate 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-ROK dialogue mechanism, the leaders have adopted a blueprint for “peace, prosperity, and partnership” for the next three decades.
Duterte also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in as well as South Korean business executives on the sidelines of the summit. It was his second visit to Korea since he assumed office in 2016.
President Duterte and his South Korean counterpart agreed to elevate the bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. He also extended an invitation to Moon to visit the country “at the soonest mutually convenient opportunity,” the Palace said.
“Based on our history of friendship and trust, the time is right for our two countries to think about elevating our relations to a strategic partnership. The elevation of our relations will pave the way for our two countries to engage in greater cooperation that will lead us to common prosperity,” Moon said during his meeting with Duterte.
Moon also expressed gratitude to the Philippines for the friendship with South Korea for the past 70 years.
“The Korean people love the Philippines,” he said, citing Koreans are the top foreign visitors of the Philippines while bilateral trade has reached a record-high of $15 billion last year.
The Philippines and South Korea also agreed to broaden cooperation in maritime and fisheries segment, the South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said.
In a statement, South Korea’s ocean ministry said it has inked agreements with ASEAN member states to broaden cooperation in the maritime and fisheries segments.
Under the agreement, the two countries will share information and technologies in the fisheries sector and exchange related officials to carry out joint research projects.
The two Asian countries also vowed to organize joint education programs and conferences to bring experts of the two nations together.
“This MOU has laid the foundation for all areas of Korea-Philippines oceans and fisheries cooperation,” Ocean Minister Moon Seong-hyeok said in a statement.
Cooperation agreements on social security, tourism, and education were also signed after the meeting of the two leaders.
The agreement came during the two-day ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit.
“The President and his fellow ASEAN leaders welcomed South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s ‘New Southern Policy,’ which aims to elevate ASEAN-ROK dialogue partnership through enhanced bilateral relations with ASEAN countries and stronger ROK involvement in ASEAN-led regional mechanisms,” the Palace said.
“President Duterte supported new initiatives on increasing trade and investments, connectivity, capacity-building for MSMEs, technical vocational education training, smart city development, and startup programs,” it added.
At the summit, Duterte also called for “more strategic and preventive collective action” to combat terrorism and violent extremism, drug trafficking, piracy, and other maritime security issues. He likewise pushed for greater regional cooperation on marine conservation and climate change-related issues.
On the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the President supported moves for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“In a special retreat session on the Korean Peninsula Issue, President Duterte stressed that there is no military solution to a fraternal conflict. Only dialogue, based on mutual trust and respect, can lead to ‘a Korea at peace with itself and without nuclear weapons’,” the Palace said.
The ASEAN and Korean leaders have also renewed their call for the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute in accordance with international law. “They also stressed the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint by claimants and all other states,” the Palace said.