Aussie PM eyes stronger ties with PH in promoting 'open, inclusive, stable, prosperous, free' Indo-Pacific region

Published May 23, 2021, 9:36 AM

by Roy Mabasa

Australia and the Philippines are aiming to continue the vision of maintaining an “open, inclusive, stable, prosperous and free” Indo-Pacific in the next 75 years of the bilateral relationship between the two countries, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said over the weekend.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Twitter/Scott Morrison)

In a video message posted over Twitter, Prime Minster Morrison spoke about Australia and the Philippines’ decades of “shared history” and “great bond” that started seven and a half decades ago shortly after the end of World War 2.

“Our people-to-people links are strong and they’re enduring, as should be for countries that share a home, our Indo-Pacific. We also share a vision of what a home should be – open, inclusive, stable and prosperous, free. That is what we’d worked for over the last 75 years and that is what we will continue to work for together in the next 75 years,” Morrison said.

Indo-Pacific is a region that connects the waterways of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, including the volatile South China Sea where an estimated $5.4 trillion worth of global trade passes through every year.

In honoring the diplomatic ties that began on May 22, 1946 when the first Australian Consulate General was established in Manila, Morrison used no less the powerful words of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal on how to look back to the shared history between the two “free democratic and sovereign nations”.

“It was your great Filipino patriot Jose Rizal who once said, ‘He who does not know how to look back at where we have come from will never get to his destination,” he said.

Throughout the 75 years of their ties, Morrison said the two countries were able to develop the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ or ‘mateship’ that helped them grow together and move forward.

“On the beaches of Leyte, the jungles of Mindanao, and the seas of Lingayen Gulf, it was there where bayanihan or mateship as we say in Australia was born. We stood together against the militarism and the cruelties of both terrible times. Together we wanted peace, together we won a war,” the Australian leader said.

Bayanihan, he stressed, is the “source of enduring respect and cooperation” in a relationship that has already expanded in the areas of trade, defense cooperation, education, tourism, development, as well as in various global challenges such as the current COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.