Singapore President Halimah Yacob and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Photo by Kriz John Rosales


MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Atty. Mike Toledo (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2019 - 12:00am

In 1974, Fortune Magazine wrote an article titled “Singapore, the country run like a corporation,” which told of the swift economic rise of this small island nation in Asia.

It reprinted this article in 2015 in honor of Lee Kuan Yew, the first and longest-serving prime minister of the island-state who was responsible for what it is today.

The acknowledged founder and Father of Modern Singapore passed away in March of 2015 when Singapore was celebrating its golden jubilee — 50 years after acquiring its independence from Malaysia in 1965.

Sen. Ronald de la Rosa, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Sen. Francis Tolentino.

The Philippines and Singapore enjoy bilateral relations. Full diplomatic relations started in May 1969 when the Philippine consulate in the island state was elevated to embassy level.

The Philippines and Singapore are both founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Singapore is the Philippines’ fifth largest export market worldwide and the first in ASEAN. It is also the seventh top import supplier of the Philippines.

Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez.

Singapore is the Philippines’ second biggest international investor and ninth biggest tourism market worldwide (also the first in ASEAN).

An estimated 200,000 Filipinos live and work in Singapore.

This year, both countries are celebrating the golden anniversary of this harmonious relationship.

(From left) Gambia Consul Agnes Huibonhoa, Wen Velasco, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and former House Speaker Sonny Belmonte.

It was against this backdrop that Singapore President Halimah Yacob, the first woman president of the island state, upon the invitation of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, made a five-day state visit to the country.

To recall, President Duterte made a state visit to Singapore in December 2016, one of the first countries he visited after he assumed the presidency.

While here, President Halimah visited both Manila and Davao City. President Duterte hosted a state banquet at Malacañang Palace in her honor.

(From left) Trade Secretary Mon Lopez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr., the author, President Duterte and Louie Locsin.

President Halimah likewise delivered the opening remarks at the 14th Philippines-Singapore Business Council meeting and had lunch with its members.

She also visited Singaporium, a lifestyle-slash-food pop-up by Enterprise Singapore featuring Singapore companies in Manila. She also attended a reception for the overseas Singaporean community here.

While in Davao City, President Halimah visited the Philippine Eagle Center, home to the critically endangered Philippine Eagle, the first head of state to do so, and had a dialogue with Muslim youth at the Ateneo de Davao University. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte also hosted dinner for the visiting Singaporean President.

US Ambassador Sung Kim, the author and Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

Singapore is host to a pair of Philippines Eagles, which arrived in June 2019 under a 10-year breeding loan agreement.

The state visit resulted in the signing of eight agreements. The Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) covered areas such as water resource, agricultural trade, agricultural technology, skills training and education, and emerging areas such as smart city infrastructure and data protection.

Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Divina Grace Yu and Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Ann Hofer.

Worthy to note that the MOU on data protection was the first ever for Singapore to enter into with another data protection authority in ASEAN.

Infrastructure Asia, a Singaporean agency, will be working closely with the Development Bank of the Philippines to support infrastructure development in the Philippines.

All in all, a visit full of golden memories and golden opportunities.

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