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Philippines recalls shared values with Korea

June 24, 2024 - 21:07 By Sanjay Kumar
Philippines Ambassador to Korea Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega delivers remarks on the occasion of the 126th Anniversary of Philippine Independence and 75th Anniversary of Philippines-Korea Relations at Lotte Hotel, in Jung-gu, Seoul on June 11. (Embassy of the Philippines in Seoul)

The Philippines recalled shared values with South Korea, marking 126 years of independence and 75 years of diplomatic ties with Seoul on June 11.

Philippine Independence Day, which falls on June 12, commemorates the declaration of independence from Spain in 1898. The country was a Spanish colony from 1571 until 1898.

The Philippines is considered Asia’s first constitutional republic, according to Philippines Ambassador to Korea Maria Theresa B. Dizon-De Vega while paying tribute to the sacrifices of freedom fighters in her remarks.

“Our forebears managed to put together a constitution, approved by a national congress, and establish a state with a division of powers into three separate branches,” Dizon-De Vega said.

“It is likewise the bedrock of the values that we share with Korea and other countries: democracy, respect for human rights and a rules-based international order,” she underlined.

The Philippines was the first country in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc and fifth globally to establish diplomatic relations with South Korea. During the 1950-53 Korean War, it sent 7,420 soldiers, the largest contribution from an Asian country and fifth largest overall.

According to the United Nations Command, the Philippines was the 11th nation to provide forces to support South Korea, suffering 448 casualties, including 92 killed.

The ambassador emphasized that democracy, respect for human rights and a rules-based international order led the Philippines to support Seoul in defending freedom on the Korean Peninsula, and such values also underpin the Philippines and South Korea's firm stance on the rule of law in international affairs and commitment to multilateralism.

“These serve as guideposts for our country up to the present as we work with Korea and other partners in peacebuilding and ensuring prosperity through dialogue and constructive engagement,” Dizon-De Vega said.

“These values evolve with the challenges and opportunities of our times. And so it is with the Philippines, as we likewise embrace the values of inclusion, multiculturalism, sustainability and concern for vulnerable sectors, whether in our own country or globally,” Dizon-De Vega said.

Korea is the Philippines’ fifth-biggest trading partner, fifth-biggest export destination, fourth-largest import source, fifth-biggest source for foreign direct investments, top source market for inbound tourists and a major partner for foreign aid, according to Dizon-De Vega.

The Philippines and Korea have signed over 60 bilateral agreements across various areas, including in free trade, veterans affairs, social security, tourism, agriculture and fisheries, open governance and education, she said.

She highlighted that both countries are enhancing collaboration through Korea’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative, participation in the multilateral Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework as well as the ASEAN-Korea Dialogue Partnership, now in its 35th year.

“Our engagement with Korea and with other nations will always be conducted as a trusted partner, innovative pathfinder and committed peacemaker as we seek to once again work with the family of nations in the UN Security Council,” Dizon-De Vega said.

According to the Philippine Embassy in Seoul, over 60,000 Filipinos currently reside in Korea.

“He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination,” she said, echoing the words of Filipino writer and polymath Jose Rizal, a national hero in the Philippines.