MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay returned from Cambodia on Thursday evening after attending the cremation ceremony for the late King Norodom Sihanouk.
“His Majesty was formerly the King of Cambodia and also served as its prime minister. He was revered and loved by the Cambodian people. The Philippines remembers Sihanouk for his various visits to our country, notably his state visit in 1956, where he sought to build closer relations between our countries,” Binay said in his arrival statement.
Sihanouk, who abdicated the throne in 2004, died in October last year. He was 89 years old. Following elaborate royal and traditional funeral customs, his remains were cremated last Monday in Phom Penh.
Binay, who represented President Aquino, was among several dignitaries who attended the rite led by King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen-Mother Monineath. Tens of thousands of Cambodians also witnessed the ceremony.
The Vice President said he was able to speak to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and fellow guests French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, his wife Brigitte Terrien, and Prince Akishino of Japan.
The Vice President said he conveyed to Hun Sen “the great interest of the Philippine government to expand and strengthen bilateral cooperation and exchanges, particularly the signing of agreements on combating transnational crimes, rice trading, and cooperation in culture and tourism.”
“I assured the prime minister of our strong and firm support for efforts to build closer relations between our countries and our peoples. The prime minister welcomed the signing of the agreements. He also expressed keen interest in the possibility of direct flights between Manila and Phnom Penh,” he said.
While in Phnom Penh, Binay also held a dialog with some 500 members of the Filipino community, appraising them of the government’s programs and actions to promote, enhance and protect their welfare and safety. The Filipinos shared their concerns over issues such as the processing of visit certifications and the impact of a weaker dollar on their remittances.
“I assured them that I will look into these concerns when I return to Manila,” he said.
Binay’s son, Makati City Mayor Erwin Binay, who was part of the Philippine delegation also met with Gov. Kep Chuktema of Phnom Penh to discuss details of establishing closer cooperation and exchange between the sister cities of Phnom Penh and Makati.
Binay also proceeded to visit the province of Siem Reap, where he was received by Gov. Sou Phirin. The Vice President also held discussions with officials of the Cambodia Scouts.