Opportunities abound for Singapore-Philippines collaboration: Pres Halimah Yacob
MANILA, Singapore and the Philippines can collaborate in many areas, Singapore President Halimah Yacob said as she concluded on Thursday a five-day state visit to the Philippines, during which she met Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila and headed to his home city of Davao in Mindanao.
Halimah said that as founding members of ASEAN, the two countries’ close ties, resulting in public and private collaboration, is ultimately about raising the quality of life for people in the region.
Singapore and the Philippines can collaborate in human capital development, innovation and infrastructure, not just in the megacities but also in the provinces, she added.
I think that our businesses which have niche core capabilities in the areas of sustainable town development, urban development will find opportunities, particularly in the areas of smart city, waste management, water supply and other areas related to urban town development, she said.
In his opening remarks during a meeting between Singapore and Philippines officials, Duterte admitted there is much to learn from Singapore.
The Singapore story dating back to its beginning as a trading port in 1819 is truly remarkable. It is by itself an inspiration for many nations around the world, said Duterte.
Among the highlights of Madam Halimah’s trip was a stop in Davao, Duterte’s hometown.
The southern Philippine islands of Mindanao are home to dozens of tribes and to most of the Muslim population in the Philippines, a country where 80 per cent are Roman Catholics.
She is the third head of state to visit Mindanao since Duterte took power, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2017.
Prejudice against the Philippines’ Muslim minority is a flashpoint in Mindanao, which saw an armed Muslim rebellion half a century ago after decades of land-grabbing, marginalisation and even massacre of their kin.
Bangsamoros, Muslim natives in the country’s south, now have greater autonomy after a law resulting from a peace deal with the country’s largest Muslim rebel group was ratified.
At Davao City, Madame Halimah also visited an eagle centre where she saw up close the critically endangered bird of prey known as the Philippine Eagle.
The rare biological heritage can only be found in the Philippines and only lays a single egg every two years. Its numbers are dwindling due to the clearing of forests that destroy their habitat.
A pair of Philippines Eagles are on a 10-year loan to Singapore. or conservation and breeding.
High on the agenda of President Halimah’s visit was for Singapore corporations as well as its small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to venture and expand in the Philippines.
Eight memoranda of understanding between the Philippines and Singapore were exchanged, ranging from agri-tech, water management and electricity supply in rural areas, to arts and culture, data protection, and training people for the next industrial revolution.
Singapore was the Philippines’ largest foreign investor among Southeast Asian countries and the second largest worldwide last year. Bilateral trade between the two countries grew by 18.6 per cent compared with the previous year.
Source: NAM News Network