MANILA – President Benigno S. Aquino III on Friday said the solidarity between the Philippines and Thailand was reaffirmed during his meeting with visiting Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
In a statement delivered at the President’s Hall of Malacañang Palace following their one-hour expanded bilateral meeting, President Aquino said their discussions “focused on trade and investments, security, and the strengthening of our people-to-people ties.”
“In terms of investment activity, I noted that Philippine companies such as San Miguel Corporation, Liwayway Food Industries Company Limited, Goldilocks, and Monde Nissin have established their presence in Thailand, while Thai enterprises have likewise opened doors of opportunity for my countrymen,” the President said, referring to the Siam Cement Group, Charoen Pokphand Foods Philippines Corporation, and Dusit International.
“We took note of how these companies have continued to expand in our respective countries, because of the sustained support that our governments and peoples have given them,” the President said.
In terms of security, President Aquino said he and Prime Minister Prayut welcomed the signing of the Terms of Reference for the Working Group of the Philippine Army and Royal Thai Army last April.
“In the same way that the Prime Minister was instrumental in strengthening the partnership between our Armed Forces during his time as Chief of the Royal Thai Army, so too does he continue to work with us in order to forge the kind of defense relations that enables us to serve our peoples in a more holistic manner. We are confident that this agreement will further strengthen our defense and security cooperation for the welfare of our peoples and of our brothers in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations),” he added.
President Aquino further said that the two nations are committed to work towards the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Cooperation in Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, which “reiterates our shared belief that our peoples must be protected from dangerous drugs.”
“As part of our efforts, coordinated operations between Philippine and Thai agencies will be conducted; and through this process, we look forward to sharing information between our relevant law enforcement agencies,” he said.
President Aquino also noted that in terms of fostering people-to-people ties, he and his Thai counterpart recognize that education is of “prime importance in developing the abilities of our peoples, so that they themselves may have the wherewithal to fulfill their aspirations for their families, their communities, and the future we share as brother nations.”
“This is the principle behind our continued work towards the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the Exchanges of Professional Teachers. Through this, we will have the opportunity to further enhance the capabilities and competencies of both our Filipino and Thai teachers,” he explained.
The Chief Executive said he took the opportunity to convey the Philippines’ gratitude to Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn for including three Philippine schools in the Collaboration Project on Children and Youth Development.
“Without doubt, this will bolster the capacities of our institutions to further empower our youth,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Aquino congratulated Thailand for its “successful term” as country coordinator for ASEAN-China relations, as well as for its support in the Philippines’ efforts in the United Nations and other international organizations.
“Thailand has truly been a reliable companion of the Philippines in promoting understanding, peace, and stability, not only within our community and region, but throughout the larger community of nations,” he said.
He earlier expressed his deep gratitude to Thailand for extending USD 100,000 in financial assistance and 500 metric tons of rice in the aftermath of Typhoon “Hagupit” last year.
He likewise extended his condolences to the Thai citizens on the “recent tragedy” in Bangkok, saying “as always, we Filipinos will stand with our brothers, the Thai people.”
President Aquino assured Prime Minister Prayut that Thailand will continue to enjoy the friendship of the Philippines.
“Mr. Prime Minister, in my remaining months in office, I can only assure you that Thailand will continue to enjoy the friendship of a Philippines that aspires to build a just, prosperous, and inclusive ASEAN Community, one that is a wellspring of opportunity for all peoples, one that continues on the straight path to stability and progress, and one in which no citizen is left behind,” the President concluded.