PHL, SoKor to ink 4 deals during Duterte’s Seoul visit

Four agreements will be signed by the Philippines and South Korea during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s official visit to the host country on June 3- 5, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Friday.

In a pre-departure press briefing at Malacañang, DFA Undersecretary for Strategic Communications Ernesto Abella said Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will witness the signing of memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on transportation, science and technology, trade and economic cooperation.

“There will also be a loan agreement on the New Cebu International Container Port Project between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Export-Import Bank of Korea. So about four,” Abella said.

He said Duterte is expected to underscore the Philippine-Korean relationship, which marks its 70th anniversary in 2019, during his summit meeting with his South Korean counterpart.

He said the two leaders are also expected to tackle South Korea’s USD100,000 donation through the Philippine Red Cross for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City.

Abella said also up for discussion is an agricultural cooperation, particularly on market access for Philippine exports such okra, avocado and other tropical fruits.

“Lastly, it will touch on environmental cooperation. There are plans to cooperate in environmental protection for both bilateral and multilateral aspects,” he said.

The protection of nationals of both countries is part of the agenda since South Korea is the country’s top source of tourists, with 1.6 million Koreans travelling to the Philippines, while 450,000 Filipino tourists visited South Korea in 2017.

Like what the President has done in previous foreign visits, Duterte will meet the Filipino community there since South Korea is host to about 68,000 Filipinos, majority of whom are overseas workers.

“Aside from the Fil Com, the President will also participate in a summit meeting, business luncheon forum, and E-Mart Philippine Food Festival,” Abella said.

He said the case of slain Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo is not part of the President’s agenda “but if raised at all, it may be on a side basis.”

“I’m sure he (Duterte) will reassure them that everything that needs to be done is being done and that we will assure that justice will be done,” he said.

Jee was allegedly killed by rogue policemen inside the Philippine National Police headquarters at Camp Crame in October 2016.

Duterte’s visit to Seoul has been in the works since Moon invited the Filipino leader on the sidelines of the East ASEAN Summit in Manila in November 2017. PNA