The Philippines and India: A partnership for the 21st century - Hindustan Times
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The Philippines and India: A partnership for the 21st century

ByHindustan Times
Jun 23, 2023 12:01 AM IST

This article is authored by Enrique A Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines.

My visit to New Delhi this week, upon the invitation of minister of external affairs, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, to co-chair the 5th meeting of the Philippines-India Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), sustains the momentum of high-level engagements between the Philippines and India over the past five years.

India - Philippines relations
India - Philippines relations

This speaks of our two countries’ shared commitment to broaden and deepen our ties, building on our shared histories, common international outlook, and vast potential for future-oriented engagement. Indeed, the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and India, which will mark their 75th year in 2024, are on the threshold of a new age of a transformative partnership.

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Our historical connections are woven into centuries of trade and cultural exchanges and parallels in our colonial experiences. Robust pre-colonial ties are evident in centuries-old ancestral gold jewelry from the maritime kingdoms of the Philippines depicting the “kinnari” of Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

Our nations both overcame colonial rule with the force of intellect of our respective heroes Jose Rizal, Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. The struggle for independence and subsequent nation-building on the basis of democratic principles and ideals form a tapestry of common national narrative, which brings forth a sense of solidarity and mutual understanding between our peoples. We will draw from the depth of these bonds as we engage in productive discussions in the coming days.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Group of 77 have provided the backdrop for the Philippines and India to work with developing country partners. We have served as beacons of independence and self-determination of States and the voice of the developing world at the dawn of the United Nations (UN).

This tradition continues in the NAM and the Group of 77, and other groupings in the UN system, that seek to foster inclusion and equity, build bridges and forge consensus from diverse and sometimes divergent interests, in order to find durable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

The Philippines and India are steadfast champions of the rule of law, democracy, and multilateralism. We have consistently advocated for outcomes-based approaches to address critical global issues. India's presidency of the G20 this year provides a significant boost to these longstanding advocacies, further galvanising collective action on these issues of defining importance in the 21st century.

The Philippines and India have each endeavored to make multilateralism more constructive, inclusive and equitable. As long as there is no credible alternative to the UN and multilateral institutions, we must continue in making these institutions work, and be more responsive to the needs and concerns of our peoples.

We have also worked closely as dialogue partners within the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). Asean attaches high importance to India’s enduring commitment to Asean’s centrality in our region’s security architecture. India's Indo-Pacific Strategy, introduced in 2018, converges with the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, particularly in their mutual goal of maintaining a free, open, and inclusive region, and in their emphasis on maritime and development cooperation and adherence to international law. The Philippines shall continue engaging India, with our Asean co-member States and other bilateral partners and groupings in creating strong regional partnerships that will underpin the architecture for peace and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific in the decades to come.

My mission to India is to tap new synergies in Manila’s collaboration with New Delhi within vital international platforms and invigorate bilateral cooperation. I am pleased and honored to lead an inter-agency country delegation whose membership signals this intent to forge partnerships in new areas.

First among this is health security, covering research and development, investments in new technologies, and exchanging best practices in delivering life-saving medicines and services to those who need them most.

We also seek broader cooperation in food and energy security, which is a priority of President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr. Both our nations confront the challenge of meeting the needs of our expanding populations in the face of climate change. We hope to glean insights from India regarding the latest research and application of new technologies to enhance agricultural output and bolster our resilience against natural disasters. We aspire to expand collaboration on fisheries and marine culture, tapping into the vast potential of our coastal resources for sustainable development.

The Philippines also recognises India’s leadership in developing renewable energy, particularly wind and solar. We can promote partnerships between our businesses as we both embark on the quest of decarbonisation of our industries and transitioning towards clean and sustainable energy sources.

The opportunities in, and complexities of the cyber- and outer-space domains also present potentials for expanding our bilateral cooperation. We can cooperate as we both promote the equitable and democratic access to outer space and space-based technologies of our societies, but also in effectively addressing security challenges, including in ensuring data and privacy protection, especially with the increasing application of fintech in our local economies.

Lastly, as maritime nations situated at the crossroads of the world's busiest sea lanes, the Philippines and India share a vested interest in maritime security and the preservation of our invaluable marine resources. We must intensify our engagement on knowledge-sharing and capacity-building initiatives to uphold seafaring standards, promote adherence to maritime trading rules, and enforce marine environmental protection measures. This way, we are able to not only safeguard the safety and security of our oceans, but also ensure the long-term resilience and prosperity of the communities reliant on these waters for their livelihoods.

As I embark on this important visit to India’s vibrant capital, I do so with an unwavering belief in the transformative potential of the Philippines-India partnership, powered by a rich history and a shared aim for a rules-based international order governed by the principles of equity and of justice. With the Philippines’ determination to be a friend to all and India’s policy to Act East, our bilateral relationship holds the promise of unlocking new avenues of cooperation. Let us seize this moment by working together with vigor to build a brighter future for our nations.

This article is authored by Enrique A Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Republic of the Philippines.

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