PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte lauded Singapore’s policy of “non-interference” in other countries’ internal affairs amid international criticism of his bloody war on drugs.
In a state banquet hosted by Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam Thursday night, Duterte pointed to the reason the relationship between the two countries remains strong.
“We work closely on political issues, pursuing principled positions on the rule of law in the peaceful settlement of disputes,” Duterte said in his speech.
“We reaffirm, respect an independence and the non-interference in the internal affairs of the states,” he added.
Duterte said the five-decade of friendship of the Philippines and Singapore have become “multi-faceted” and “multi-dimensional.”
“I say we are drawn even closer as a partners and friends. We have reason to celebrate. Over nearly five decades, we have seen our ties develop as we add more facets of cooperation to our now multi-dimensional relations,” he said.
“We can and should look forward to a future of greater, mutually beneficial collaboration. This is a future we can start… chart together and aim to achieve. This is how friends should be,” he added.
Duterte cited both countries’ commitment to make Southeast Asia and the rest of the East Asian region “safe and secure from traditional, emerging transnational threats.”
He also lauded Singapore’s multicultural nature, citing how the city-state champions diversity.
The Philippine President then called for intensified two-way trade and commerce between the two countries.
“We are expanding the opportunities for investments to flourish in both our countries. Indeed, we have done much and we can do more,” Duterte said.
The 180,000 Filipinos in the city-state are also a testimony to the enduring friendship of the Philippines and Singapore, he said.
Duterte met around 7,000 members of the Filipino community in Singapore before flying back to the Philippines Friday night.
For his part, President Tan lauded both countries’ “robust friendship anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony, and prosperity for our countries and the region.”
“Both our countries believe in trade and development to improve the lives of our peoples,” Tan said as he reported on the interest of Singaporean businesses in the Philippines.
“Singapore companies are keen to invest in the Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest growing economies. Despite our small size, Singapore is the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner and the top Asean investor,” he said.
“Both Singapore and the Philippines are doing more to enhance economic and business cooperation,” Tan added.
Tan noted that several Singapore companies used the Philippines as the starting point of their overseas expansion plans.
He also talked about how Filipino tourists have come to love Singapore.
“The strong economic ties between the Philippines and Singapore are complemented by warm people-to-people relations. Singapore is a familiar place to many Filipinos each year. Singapore welcomes about 700,000 visitors from the Philippines,” Tan said.
Tan assured Duterte of Singapore’s support for the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit next year.
“As founding members of Asean, the Philippines and Singapore share a vision and a goal of maintaining peace and stability for our region,” Tan said.