The Philippines found impressive the rapid economic progress being made by Sri Lanka, and is convinced of the unique opportunities now available for intensifying co-operation between the two countries in the fields of trade, investment and tourism, Vice-President of the Philippines Jejomar Binay said.
Sri Lanka and the Philippines are now poised, he observed, to derive mutual benefit from each other’s expertise in a variety of sectors, and to formulate a specific programme of collaboration in this regard. Rice production and manpower mobilization overseas are areas in which the Philippines would be happy to share their experiences with Sri Lanka, while the Philippines would like to benefit from Sri Lanka’s experience with regard to maritime security and defence related matters, he said.
He made these remarks in the course of a meeting with Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, at the Vice-President’s office in Manila on August 01.
Professor Peiris thanked the government of the Philippines for their strong and steadfast support of Sri Lanka’s position in international fora including the Human Rights Council this year as well as last year. He conveyed to Vice-President Binay the warm appreciation of Sri Lanka for the understanding of the Philippines, which underlines the quality and depth of the bilateral relationship.
Vice-President Binay assured Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs of the continuing goodwill and friendship of the Philippines and their resolve to work together in a spirit of amity. Minister Peiris responded that Asian identity and values represent a major component of this solidarity.
Minister Peiris explained to Vice-President Binay in detail Sri Lanka’s recent progress in respect of development and reconciliation. He added that these had all been achieved within a remarkably brief period, far shorter than the time taken for similar initiatives in post-conflict situations in other parts of the world.
Vice-President Binay appreciated the briefing by Minister Peiris on Sri Lanka’s contribution to peace and stability outside the shores of the Island. The Minister said that the importance attached by Sri Lanka to curbing people smuggling operations is indicated by the energy and resources expended by the Sri Lankan Navy in these efforts. He added that these issues would be further discussed at the multilateral conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia, later this month.
The Minister congratulated the government of the Philippines warmly on the record of the Benigno Aquino Administration on economic and social development, as well as security. He told the Vice-President that, during his university career as Professor of Law, he had worked closely on several research projects with Joachim Bernas, a well-known Philippino constitutional lawyer, who had been intimately associated with the government of former President Corazon Aquino, the late mother of the present President of the Philippines.
Vice-President Binay requested Minister Peiris to convey his warm felicitations to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He wished Sri Lanka all success in hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo later this year, and said that he expected the corporate sector of the Philippines, at a high level, to be represented at the Business Forum, to be held on the sidelines of this event