Phl, Indonesia ink 4 agreements

President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. (second from right) and First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos (right) walk with Indonesian President Joko Widodo (second from left) and Indonesian First Lady Iriana Widodo after a tree-planting activity at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java on Monday. | Achmad Ibrahim / POOL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Philippine and Indonesian governments on Monday inked four agreements on defense and security, culture, and creative economy during the first state visit of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. aimed at helping accelerate the country’s economic recovery.

At the Bogor Presidential Palace in Jakarta, the agreements were presented to Marcos and his Indonesian counterpart, President Joko Widodo, such as the Plan of Action between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines from 2022 to 2027 and Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines on Cultural Cooperation.

These agreements were signed and presented by Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

According to DFA, the five-year plan of action was a comprehensive document that outlines bilateral programs and commitments for the next five years on a wide range of areas of cooperation such as security, defense, border management, counter-terrorism, economic, energy, maritime, culture and education, labor, health, and consular matters, among others.

The MoU on cultural cooperation, meanwhile, will enhance the two countries’ cultural and people-to-people exchanges, and promote better understanding and appreciation of each other’s remarkable culture, founded on our rich histories, the DFA stated.

Also signed were the agreements on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MoU for Cooperation in the Development and Promotion of Creative Economy between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

The third agreement was signed by Minister of Defense PrabowoSubianto and Senior Undersecretary of the Department of Defense Jose Faustino Jr., while the fourth one was signed by Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno and Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual.

The DFA said the renewal of the 1997 Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security “remains the pillar of our defense and military partnership that will enhance collaboration between our defense agencies, further promote the conduct of cooperative activities, and reinforce the modernization of the Philippine military.”

Lastly, the MoU on the promotion of a creative economy will “herald a new area of cooperation, cultivating a common Creative Economy that leverages on our respective strengths to foster innovation through knowledge transfer in industries including fashion, architecture, digital media, performing arts, music, theater, dance and creative services.”

Marcos is optimistic that his first trip outside the country would fortify the country’s relations with Southeast Asian neighbor Indonesia.

“These partnerships that we make with all our partners and allies and friends around the world will be of critical importance so that we remain stable as we grow out of the pandemic economy and we work together and help each other to develop regional peace and regional development,” Marcos said in his speech at the Istana Bogor.

“Again it’s those partnerships I believe that will keep the stability of all of our plans and what we are hoping to do in the next few years,” he added.

Marcos underscored the diplomatic relations that the Philippines and Indonesia that go back 75 years and expressed gratitude to Widodo for his “very kind invitation” to visit Jakarta.

“I believe that we have made the proper choice in coming to Jakarta as my first state visit as president of the Philippines and I believe that this is only the beginning of many more things to come between Indonesia and the Philippines,” Marcos said.

He noted that the Philippines and Indonesia are not only close due to geographical location, but also in terms of “culture” and “ethnicity.”

The chief executive also thanked the Indonesian government for its assistance to the Philippine government at the height of the pandemic and for supporting the infrastructure programs of his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte.

He added that after talking “at length” with Widodo about the role of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he found that they are of the same belief that the political union will be the “lead agent” in developing regional peace and regional development due to “geopolitical volatility.”

“We also spoke at length about the role that we believe ASEAN should play while we face the difficulties in this very volatile time in geopolitics not only in our region but also in the rest of the world,” Marcos said.

“And we agreed that ASEAN is going to be the lead agent in the changes that we would like to see in continuing to bring peace to our countries. And again the assistance that we have received from Indonesia has been a very important part of that.”

Moreover, Marcos and Widodo agreed to form a task force to allow their respective countries to discuss at the technical level how they can fully seize opportunities.

“We continue to work on growing our relationship to making it stronger so much so that our discussions progress so rapidly that we the President and I have agreed to organize task forces already to meet and discuss even at the technical level, no longer at the political or the diplomatic level but at the technical level to be able to take a full advantage of opportunities that we feel that are available to us and that we will need to exploit to succeed in the near future,” Marcos said.

‘Honored’

For his part, Widodo said his country is “honored” to have received the “first overseas visit of President Marcos and delegation.”

Like Marcos, he stressed the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation in various sectors and regional cooperation in the framework of ASEAN.

“On bilateral cooperation, I conveyed a few points. First, we encouraged a significant increase in our trade folio. Compared to last year, trade between Indonesia and the Philippines increased by almost 50 percent. Indonesia, in particular, encouraged the increase of export of food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, coconut and seaweed products,” Widodo said.

The Indonesian leader said he invited Marcos to continue developing trade potentials as well as connectivity in border areas, particularly to revive shipping routes — Ro-Ro shipping routes between Bitung and Davao and reopening of Manado-Davao flight route.

“Second, on intensifying cooperation in infrastructure and strategic industries, a number of Indonesian state-owned enterpriseshave participated in development programs in the Philippines,” Widodo said.

“For instance, the procurement project of two-landing platform dock vessels by PT PAL and railway signaling project in Manila by PT LEN. I hope that the planned purchase of NC212i aircraft from PT. Dirgantara can be realized,” he pointed out.

Thirdly, Widodo said, he talked about strengthening border cooperation, saying: “We agreed to review two border security agreements so that it remains relevant for communities in border areas and the revised Border Crossing Agreement and Border Patrol Agreement.”

He added that he and Marcos committed to improving negations on the delimitation of the continental shelf based on the 1982 UNCLOS.

Strengthening cooperations President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (left), and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, in a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java on 5 September 2022, ‘spoke at length about the role ASEAN should play in the face of difficulties… at a very volatile time in geopolitics. | Achmad Ibrahim / POOL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

“In the field of defense and security, we encouraged strengthening cooperation and safety and security of waters in border areas. I highly appreciate the signing of the Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense and Security,” Widodo said.

He also expressed that he is glad that the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement between Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, has been renewed.

For him, this will “secure our waters from threats of hostage-taking and kidnapping.”

“On regional cooperation, we also discussed how to strengthen ASEAN and the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. I underlined the importance of strengthening ASEAN centrality and unity,” he added.

‘Feels like home’

Coming to Indonesia “feels like home,” Marcos said after receiving a very warm welcome from the Filipino communities in the neighboring country.


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