PH, Cambodia ink pacts on culture, defense

By , on December 7, 2017


Cropped photo of Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon at a celebration of the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 2016 (Photo By U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Public Domain)
Cropped photo of Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon at a celebration of the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 2016 (Photo By U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, Public Domain)

MANILA — Cambodian and Philippine governments on Wednesday signed agreements on defense and preservation of culture and arts during their 2nd Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) held in Manila.

Signing the Agreement on the Prevention of Looting and Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property were Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and National Commission for Culture and the Arts Chairman Virgilio Almario in Marriott Hotel.

In his official visit to Cambodia last August, Almario and his counterpart Phoeurng Sackona, Cambodia’s Minister for Culture and Fine Arts affirmed commitment to build on the significant level of cultural cooperation between the two nations.

This is in line with the implementation of the Philippines-Cambodia Agreement on Culture that was signed in June 2015.

Meanwhile, signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation were Department of National Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David Jr. and Neang Phat, Secretary of State for the Cambodian Ministry of Defense.

During his opening remarks, Foreign Minister Sokhonn said his meeting with Cayetano further explores collaborative measures “to bring prosperity” between the two governments.

Philippines and Cambodia’s celebrated its 60 years of diplomatic relationship this year, coinciding with the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In his statement, he said the latest engagement between Phnom Penh and Manila “no doubt contribute to the strengthening of ASEAN community.”

The 2nd JCBC followed the two nations’ first JCBC held last December 2011 in Phnom Penh.

Cayetano said there are at least 6,000 Filipinos in Cambodia. The Philippine Embassy in Cambodia said most of that number belong to the skilled labor sector.

“We also have Filipino companies there who are doing good so hindi naman parating ibang bansa ang nagiinvest sa atin, may mga kumpanya na rin tayo doon,” Cayetano said.

He noted that compared to the region’s huge linkage with partners such as the United States, Canada, Japan, China, Australia, and South Korea, member states of the ASEAN have yet engaged with each other fully.

“Napakalaki ng engagement at pag-improve ng ekonomiya, tourism, investments, culture, education ng ASEAN with other partners such as US, Japan, China, Australia, South Korea, and Canada but within and among ASEAN states, ni wala pa tayong straight flight from Manila to their capital,” Cayetano said.

Aside from the two latest agreements signed, cooperation in the areas of labor, sports, combatting transnational crimes, and tourism were also inked during the state visit to Cambodia of President Rodrigo Duterte on Dec. 13-14, 2016.

The following are among the major agreements between the Philippines and Cambodia through the years:
* Agricultural and Agribusiness Cooperation (signed September 2015)
* Cultural Agreement (signed June 2015)
* Rice Trade (signed April 2013)
* Air Services (signed April 2012 )
* Recognition of Training and Certification for Seafarers (signed October 2002)
* Health Workers’ Development Cooperation (signed August 2000)
* Promotion and Protection of Investments (signed August 2000)
* Establishment of a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (signed August 2000)
* Visa Exemption for Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders (signed August 2000)
* Tourism Cooperation (signed August 2000)
* Rural Health Development Cooperation (signed December 1995)
* Enhancement of Economic Trade Relations (signed December 1995).