Top Philippines and South Korean officials have expressed their determination to elevate their bilateral ties into a “strategic partnership.” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
On the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Korea’s Foreign Minister Park Jin banked on the “deep and close ties between the two countries for more than seven decades” now, to elevate their bilateral relations.
“It was a pleasure to meet for the very first time today, Korean FM Park Jin, on the sidelines of UNGA. We covered a lot of issues and committed ourselves to formalizing soon the elevation of Philippine-Korea bilateral relations to a strategic partnership,” Manalo said.
The DFA said a strategic partnership would allow increased high-level engagements, closer maritime cooperation, increased collaboration in addressing common security concerns, expanded cooperation in trade and investments and in science and technology between the two countries.
Among others, it would pave the way for an even closer people-to-people exchanges through tourism, education exchanges and labor cooperation, he added.
Manalo said he also anticipates the signing of the 2022-2026 Framework Arrangement Concerning Loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, which could finance more development cooperation projects in the Philippines.
“Korea’s participation in (the Philippines’) infrastructure development, including the construction of highways, railways, ports and airports, is an important aspect of Philippines-Korea bilateral relations,” the DFA added.
Development cooperation between Seoul and Manila has spanned over 30 years, with Korea providing small technical assistance to the country as early as 1990.
From US$7.24 million in 1991, Korea’s official development assistance to the country has increased to around US$127.75 million in 2021, according to the Korean Embassy in Manila.
During the meeting, the two officials also exchanged views on regional and international developments.
Longer yet than their economic cooperation, people-to-people interactions between Filipinos and South Koreans date back to the early 1950 or 70 years ago when the Philippines dispatched its military contingent to fight on the side of South Korea against Communist North Korea.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos, then a young Lieutenant was then part of the first Batallion Combat Team (BCT) that fought in the Korean War along with allied forces then under then US General Douglas MacArthur as Supreme Commander.
Until today, elderly South Koreans fondly remember and cherish their ties and friendship with Filipinos. This was demonstrated clearly during the APEC Summit in Pusan City, South Korea in the early 2000’s where the Pusan City officials specially hosted the Philippine media delegation to a “reunion party” during the Summit, the only among the 21 media groups that covered the event. The Manila media group included now Senator Loren Legarda who came late to the reunion because of her demanding broadcast for job for ABS-CBN.
Pusan was where the Philippine Battallion Combat Teams landed in South Korea. Pusan folks still cherish and pay respects to the historical military marker the city installed to remember Filipinos. Bigger yet than the Pusan marker, however, is the impressive monument for the Philippine military installed at a city just 30 minutes drive by car northwest of Seoul.