(Eagle News) — In the first-ever virtual presentation of credentials ceremony, President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed five new ambassadors to the country on Friday, June 19.
President Duterte affirmed the Philippines’ “friendly and cooperative” ties with the State of Palestine, New Zealand, Canada, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as he received the credentials of their respective ambassadors, hoping stronger ties with the countries or state they represent.
Malacanang said that “this is the first time President Duterte held a presentation of credentials ceremony through a teleconference call as part of the “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
-Duterte welcomes first Palestine envoy assigned to the PHL-
On Friday, President Duterte received the credentials of Ambassador Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad of the State of Palestine. The President conveyed to the new ambassador the Filipino people’s warmest welcome to him for being the first envoy assigned in the country after the re-establishment of their embassy in Manila last year.
The 75-year old Philippine leader said Palestine’s decision to re-open its embassy “marks a new chapter in Philippines-Palestine relations, which hopefully will lead to fruitful engagement in various areas of mutual interest.”
Ambassador Saleh Mohammad vowed to foster friendly ties and cooperation between Palestine and the Philippines during his tenure. He also expressed the warm greetings of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to President Duterte and the Filipino people.
-NZ Ambassador vows deeper ties with PHL-
President Duterte also accepted the credentials of Ambassador Peter Francis Tavita Kell of New Zealand who expressed his commitment to further strengthen and deepen the Philippines-New Zealand ties in his tour of duty in the country.
The President said the Philippines is particularly interested in pursuing cooperation with New Zealand in geothermal energy development as well as in deepening engagement in defense and security, especially in maritime security and combating terrorism and transnational crimes.
-New Canadian ambassador presents credentials-
President Duterte also welcomed Ambassador James Peter MacArthur of Canada, and expressed his hope that his tenure in Manila will lead to more robust and wide-ranging cooperation, especially in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), trade and investments, maritime security and marine environmental protection, development issues, agriculture, and education.
He lauded the North American country as “an old friend and important development partner.”
In response, Ambassador MacArthur congratulated the President on his “signature achievements” including the peace agreement and establishment of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Universal Healthcare Act, and “Build, Build, Build” program.
With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, the envoy stressed that Canada and the Philippines “stand shoulder to shoulder” in combating the disease.
-Iranian ambassador presents credentials-
Iranian Ambassador Alireza Tootoonchian also presented his credentials to President Duterte. The President then expressed the hope for “stronger bilateral ties, particularly in science and technology and people-to- people exchanges” between the Philippines and Iran.
He conveyed his deep appreciation to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for pardoning a Filipino national who was imprisoned in Iran.
Ambassador Tootoonchian, for his part, conveyed the best wishes of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his invitation for the President to visit Iran.
The Philippines, the Iranian envoy said, “enjoys a special standing in Iran because of the country’s independent foreign policy, particularly under President Duterte, and its advocacy for peaceful co- existence among peoples of different faiths.”
Pres. Duterte welcomes Vietnam’s new envoy to PHL-
Also welcomed by the President was Vietam’s Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung, hailing the Asian country “as an important friend and neighbor.”
The President stressed that the Philippines and Vietnam “should continue working closely together to promote peace and security in the region, especially in the maritime sphere.”
“We count on Vietnam’s continued support for our advocacy for the rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes, and keeping the global commons – partincularly in our region’s maritime space – free and open,” the President said.
The Filipino leader also reaffirmed the Philippines’ readiness to enhance cooperation with Vietnam, bilaterally and through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and fast track economic recovery under the new normal.
For his part, the ambassador conveyed the warmest greetings of President Nguyen Phu Trong to President Duterte.
He noted that the elevation of Viet Nam-Philippines relations to a strategic partnership in 2015 ushered a new era for bilateral cooperation.
(with a PND report)