By Rhealyn C. Pojas
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed his interest to provide scholarships for Palau citizens who want to pursue higher education in colleges and universities in the Philippines, especially in the field of medicine.
In a press statement published on the official website of the Philippine’s Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), it was stated that Duterte conveyed the Philippines’ commitment to strengthen its relationship with Palau, saying that the bond between the two countries remains “good and solid.” [restrict]
This statement came out after Palau President Thomas “Tommy” Remengesau Jr. paid a courtesy call on Duterte on February 15 in Davao City, Philippines.
The two leaders also discussed about enhancing areas of mutual interest such as foreign labor, maritime security, medical tourism and education.
Duterte, who referred to Palauans as “good-natured”, also praised Palau and its government for having a peaceful nation, emphasizing further that police cooperation between the two countries will not be a problem because of this.
Duterte also discussed sustainable maritime defense with President Remengesau, saying that he has been working with the key players in the sector to improve maritime security in the Asia Pacific Region.
According to the press statement, the two nations had a memorandum of understanding on exchanging knowledge and expertise on medical tourism and referral and higher education.
Meanwhile, Remengesau also expressed his gratitude to the Filipinos, who comprised about 60 percent of the foreign populations in Palau, for being “very instrumental” in the country’s economic development.
On Re-opening Philippine Embassy
Remengesau also appealed to the Philippine President to reopen its embassy in Palau.
The Philippine Embassy in Palau, along with the other nine embassies in different parts of the world, had closed down in 2012 during former Philippine President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III’s term, whose administration cited budgetary constraints as the reason for the closure.
In previous reports, the Former Palau President Johnson Toribiong had also asked Aquino during his term to reconsider the government’s decision to shut down the Philippine Embassy in the country, citing that the most compelling reason for maintaining the embassy in Palau was the presence of some 5,000 Filipino workers here.
The Filipino community in Palau had also previously opposed the decision to close the embassy here and even launched online signature drives to appeal to the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs to keep the post open.
Apart from the call to reopen the Philippine embassy in Palau, Remengesau also said that the country works on setting up more direct flights between the two countries to further improve connectivity and also boost tourism cooperation. [/restrict]