President Duterte conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), Gold Distinction, on outgoing South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-man during his farewell call to the President last Thursday.
In a statement, the Office of the President (OP) said Duterte conferred on Han the award and thanked him for his valuable contributions in enhancing the bilateral relations between the Philippines and South Korea since he assumed the post in January 2018.
The Order of Sikatuna is the national order of diplomatic merit conferred upon diplomats, officials, and nationals of foreign states who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines.
The President cited Han for his “excellent diplomatic work.”
During Han’s tenure, the Philippines and South Korea increased the frequency of high-level exchanges and interactions, with Duterte undertaking a bilateral visit to Seoul in 2018 and Busan for the Association of Southeast Asia Nations-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit last year.
Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-in also met several times on the sidelines of multilateral meetings.
The President noted that in 2019, South Korea was the Philippines’ fifth largest trade partner, fourth largest ODA (Official Development Assistance) source, and fourth largest investor.
Duterte thanked South Korea for its support for the Philippines’ development priorities and infrastructure drive, stressing that he is looking forward to the completion of joint key projects which include the New Cebu International Container Port Project, Dumaguete Airport, and the Capas-Botolan Road Project.
The Chief Executive likewise highlighted broader and deeper cooperation between the two countries in defense, security, and maritime domain awareness.
Duterte also recognized South Korea’s timely emergency and humanitarian assistance in the Philippines’ COVID-19 response, including the donation of face masks and other personal protective equipment, medicines, test kits, and rice.
He acknowledged South Korea’s assistance in the repatriation of 2,137 Filipinos from the peninsula.
Han thanked Duterte for his commitment to elevate special ties between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea which the President described as “at its highest levels so far.”
Han reiterated the importance and value of Philippines-South Korea relations and reaffirmed his country’s commitment to continue working with the Philippines to further strengthen cooperation across all areas of mutual concern.
The South Korean envoy thanked the Filipino nation for its many contributions to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, saying that South Korea would not enjoy peace and stability if not for the many sacrifices of friendly nations, including the Philippines.