PH, EU like-minded partners in democracy, human rights — Bongbong Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has assured the European Commission (EC) that the Philippines and the European Union (EU) are like-minded in terms of democracy and human rights, as both sides seek to bring their “bilateral relationship to greater heights”.
Marcos, in his joint press statement delivered on Monday morning in Malacañang, thanked EC and EU for continuing to partner with the Philippines in various areas of cooperation, like pushing for a green economy, boosting trade and industry growth, and maritime security.
“As I mentioned to Madame President von der Leyen, the Philippines and EU are like-minded partners through our shared values of democracy, sustainable and inclusive prosperity, the rule of law, peace and stability, and human rights,” Marcos said as he welcomed EC president von der Leyen, who is in the Philippines for a two-day visit.
“The continued exchanges between Her Excellency and myself, which started in Brussels last year, is a testament to our joint desire to bring our bilateral relationship to greater heights,” he added.
Marcos also thanked von der Leyen and the EC for the resumption of the negotiations for the free trade agreement between the Philippines and EU, which the EC president announced earlier.
PH seafarers’ recognition
Marcos expressed his gratitude over the EC’s decision to extend the recognition of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) which translated to the continuous employment of over 50,000 Filipino seafarers onboard EU flag vessels.
It could be recalled that at one point, seafarers’ jobs were placed in peril after the EC questioned whether the training regimen of Filipino workers were at par with international standards.
Last March 31, it was announced that the EC extended the recognition of the STCW after the Philippine agencies showed “concrete progress and improvement”.
“But during our meeting, we discussed economic relations with particular focus on revitalizing trade between our two regions. I welcome the conduct of this year, of scoping exercises between the European Commission and the Philippines towards negotiations for a Philippines-EU free trade agreement. The Philippine Government experts will work with the European Commission in achieving a bilateral FTA,” Marcos said.
“I also thank the European Commission for their decision to extend the recognition of the STCW certificates issued by the Philippines, as this has a positive impact on the employment of more than 50,000 Filipino seafarers working onboard EU flag vessels,” he added.
Aside from the above-mentioned programs, von der Leyen mentioned several points of cooperation that were discussed in the bilateral meet:
- digitalization efforts towards improved internet connection
- possible connection of submarine cables from Japan to Philippines and to rest of Southeast Asia
- information sharing and threat assessment to boost maritime security efforts