By Genalyn Kabiling
The alliance between the Philippines and Indonesia is now “stronger than ever” after forging accords to establish a new shipping route to boost trade as well as intensify cooperation on agriculture development.
The two landmark deals aimed at enhancing the robust partnership were forged following the bilateral talks between President Duterte and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Malacañang.
Apart from trade and agriculture cooperation, Duterte and Widodo have also agreed to step up bilateral cooperation on maritime security, counter terrorism and anti-drug efforts, Mindanao peace efforts during their meeting at the Palace. Widodo is in Manila for a state visit and for the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
“We are positive Philippines-Indonesia partnership is stronger than ever and ready to face together as brothers in the evolving realities of our times,” the President said. “As Indonesia’s close friend and partner, the Philippines is committed to working with you to open new doors of cooperation,” he added.
Duterte said he was pleased with the signing of a joint declaration on the establishment of a shipping route that will link Davao City and General City with Bitung, Indonesia.
The new shipping route, that will be launched on April 30, aims to facilitate trade and movement of goods and services between the two countries, Duterte said.
“This deserves full support from both our governments,” Duterte said, adding he and Widodo will launch the maiden voyage of the roll-on/roll-off vessel in Davao City this Sunday.
The Philippine-Indonesia agreement “encourages the establishment of direct sea connectivity between the cities involved, the designation of their ports for this purpose, regular consultation, and undertaking measures to ensure that certain safety standards are met,” a statement from the Palace read.
Apart from the new shipping route, the President also hailed the memorandum of understanding on promoting the growth of their respective agricultural sectors. He said the two nations could help modernize both countries’ agriculture sectors though research, mutual consultation and assistance.
The two leaders also agreed to sustain the “momentum” of all engagements particularly in defense security, trade and investments, agriculture and subregional development connectivity.
“We recognize to address the need to address both traditional and emerging threats and expressed readiness to step up cooperation against terrorism, violent extremism, piracy at sea and transnational crimes including the trade of illicit drugs,” Duterte said.
He said the two countries agreed to use bilateral mechanisms and trilateral arrangements to secure the vital waters that connect the nations.