At the invitation of Her Excellency Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore, His Excellency Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr., President of the Republic of the Philippines, and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos undertook a State Visit to Singapore from 6 to 7 September 2022. President Marcos Jr.’s State Visit reflects the abiding bonds of friendship between the government and peoples of both countries and the strong mutual commitment to further strengthen Philippines-Singapore relations.
During the visit, President Marcos Jr. called on President Halimah and met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. President Marcos Jr. and First Lady Araneta-Marcos had a new orchid hybrid, the Dendrobium Ferdinand Louise Marcos, named in their honour at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The following bilateral agreements were signed during the State Visit:
- Arrangement Concerning the Assignment of a Team to the Regional Counter-Terrorism Information Facility in Singapore between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Singapore Armed Forces;
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the Field of Digital Cooperation between the Department of Information and Communications Technology of the Philippines and the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore;
- Memorandum of Understanding for collaboration on the development of New Clark City, between the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) of the Philippines and Enterprise Singapore;
- Renewal of the MOU on Cooperation in Personal Data Protection between the National Privacy Commission of the Philippines and the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore;
- Renewal of the MOU on Water Collaboration between the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System of the Philippines and the Public Utilities Board of Singapore.
The Joint Communiqué on the Recruitment of Filipino Healthcare Workers between the Department of Migrant Workers of the Philippines and the Ministry of Health of Singapore was also signed.
Strengthening the Philippines-Singapore Partnership
- The Leaders affirmed the excellent and longstanding relationship between the Philippines and Singapore, and recalled the warm celebrations and substantive outcomes achieved in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2019.
- The Leaders welcomed the wide-ranging and robust cooperation between both countries, including in trade and investment, counterterrorism, healthcare and digital cooperation. President Halimah warmly congratulated President Marcos Jr. on his victory in the May 2022 Presidential election, and reaffirmed Singapore’s desire to work with the Philippines to further strengthen the bilateral relationship.
- The Leaders noted with satisfaction the expansion in bilateral economic cooperation despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bilateral trade amounted to USD16.5 billion in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 17.2 per cent. Singapore was the Philippines’ largest foreign investor in 2021, with investments totalling USD1.5 billion. As of 2020, Singapore’s cumulative FDI into the Philippines was USD6.9 billion, mainly in real estate and hospitality, telecommunications, transport and logistics, consumer goods, and utilities. The two sides intend to build on this solid foundation to further deepen and broaden our cooperation to bring greater benefits to our peoples. The Leaders welcomed the ongoing opportunities for the Philippines and Singapore to work together in growth areas, including the digital economy, agri-trade, infrastructure development, innovation, urban solutions, sustainability and consumer business. To further boost trade and investment flows, both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Enterprise Singapore and the Philippine Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), to jointly develop the New Clark City through technology transfer and partnerships in urban and smart city solutions. To increase connectivity and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth, the two sides are also working to realise progress on the expansion of the bilateral Air Transport Agreement which will increase connectivity and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth. Both sides recognised the complementarities of their economies and looked forward to the development of even stronger linkages, both bilaterally and multilaterally, by leveraging common trade agreements. During his visit, President Marcos Jr. also delivered a keynote speech at the Philippine Economic Briefing to promote business opportunities in the Philippines and participated in a Roundtable Meeting with members of the Singapore business community.
- The Leaders reaffirmed the close and long-standing bilateral ties on security and defence matters. They welcomed the signing of the Arrangement between the Singapore Armed Forces and Armed Forces of the Philippines Concerning the Assignment of a Team to the Counter-Terrorism Information Facility (CTIF) in Singapore. The multilateral CTIF brings together like-minded countries to share intelligence, and provides early warning, monitoring, and analysis capabilities. In addition, the two sides agreed to continue with regular high-level dialogues, military-to-military exchanges, cooperation on multilateral platforms, and to work towards the conclusion of a separate bilateral agreement that would further strengthen defence and security cooperation.
- The Leaders reaffirmed the strong people-to-people ties which have always been the core of the bilateral relationship. Our peoples share close bonds of friendship and amity which have continued to flourish even during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the restoration of travel links following the easing of the global COVID-19 situation. The thriving and dynamic Filipino community in Singapore is more than 200,000-strong. President Halimah expressed Singapore’s appreciation for the invaluable contributions of Philippine healthcare workers and frontline personnel to Singapore’s COVID-19 response. Both Leaders also welcomed the issuance of a Joint Communique on the Recruitment of Filipino Healthcare Workers between the Department of Migrant Workers of the Philippines and the Ministry of Health of Singapore, which will pave the way for the continued deployment of Filipino healthcare professionals to Singapore as well as greater bilateral cooperation in the field of healthcare.
Regional and International Developments
- The two sides exchanged views on key regional and international developments. They emphasised the importance of strengthening ASEAN Centrality and unity, deepening regional economic integration including through digital transformation, and upholding rules-based multilateralism to promote peace and stability in the region. They committed to continue pursuing close coordination and mutual support at international and regional fora, particularly in ASEAN and other ASEAN-led mechanisms.
- The Leaders reiterated ASEAN’s consistent position on the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation and overflight in and above the South China Sea, and peaceful resolution of disputes without resorting to threat or use of force, in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is of universal character and sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. They underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and to conduct substantive negotiations towards the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) in accordance with international law, including 1982 UNCLOS, and that safeguards the rights and interests of all parties in the South China Sea. They emphasised the need to maintain and promote an environment conducive to the COC negotiations. They expressed support for meaningful activities to celebrate the 20th anniversary of DOC in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of 1982 UNCLOS in 2022.
- The Leaders expressed deep concern about the situation in Myanmar, including the prolonged political crisis in the country and the recent execution of four opposition activists. The Leaders called for the release of all political detainees including President U Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and foreign detainees. The Leaders reaffirmed the Chair’s Statement of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Jakarta on 24 April 2021, and called for Myanmar to avoid actions that would be inimical to eventual national reconciliation in Myanmar. They also expressed deep disappointment at the limited progress in and lack of commitment of the military authorities to the timely and complete implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, including the lack of cooperation by the Myanmar military authorities to facilitate the ASEAN Special Envoy to engage in constructive dialogue with all parties concerned. The Leaders reiterated their support for multilateral and UN engagement on Myanmar, including the work of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, and called for UN representatives and agencies to be granted full access to Myanmar. The Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting ASEAN’s efforts in alleviating the humanitarian situation in Myanmar. While upholding ASEAN’s principle of non-interference, the Leaders expressed support for ASEAN’s active role in assisting Myanmar, an integral member of the ASEAN Family, to overcome the current crisis and to return to the path of democratisation.
- The Leaders emphasised their countries’ staunch support for international law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. They strongly urged all parties to exert every effort, utilising diplomatic and peaceful means, to maintain international peace and security, and avert the further worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Emerging from COVID-19 Stronger Together
- Both sides discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and recognised the importance of closer cooperation to enable both countries to emerge stronger together from the pandemic in an inclusive and sustainable manner. The Leaders also welcomed the support that both countries provided to each other, including on medical supplies and equipment, since the beginning of the pandemic. The two Leaders also emphasised the importance of bolstering mutual economic resiliency, and agreed that both countries should explore ways to improve supply chain connectivity and resilience.
- The Leaders emphasised the importance of keeping the bilateral partnership forward-looking and ambitious, and looked forward to enhancing cooperation in emerging areas including in the digital and education fields. Both Leaders welcomed the signing of the MOU on Digital Cooperation between the Department of Information and Communications Technology of the Philippines and the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore and the renewal of the MOU on Cooperation in Personal Data Protection between the National Privacy Commission of the Philippines and the Personal Data Protection Commission of Singapore during the visit, which will pave the way for greater collaboration in the digital economy, data protection and other areas. The two Leaders also looked forward to the renewal of the 2019 MOU on Innovations in Teaching and Learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with Design Thinking between the Department of Education of the Philippines, Nanyang Polytechnic International and Temasek Foundation, which will better equip students from both countries to tap on new opportunities in the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- The Leaders commended the excellent and multi-faceted development of Philippines-Singapore relations, and agreed to continue enhancing bilateral cooperation ahead of the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2024.