President Rodrigo Duterte and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed four bilateral agreements on Friday, marking the 70th year of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The two leaders inked agreements on tourism and hospitality sector, science and technology, cultural exchange, and maritime security.
The Philippines and India agreed on the sharing of information on non-military and nongovernment shipping vessels to enhance maritime security.
President Duterte also vowed to work with India to fight terrorism, violent extremism, and other transboundary threats.
“I welcomed India’s role in the defense capability upgrade program against the backdrop of our growing security cooperation,” Duterte said.
“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” he added.
Duterte also recognized India’s deepening presence in Southeast Asia through its “Act East Policy,” noting that the government is also “expanding the boundaries of its diplomacy.”
“In this period of interdependence and geopolitical shifts, an open, balanced, and pragmatic stance is the most reasonable and least costly path to peace and prosperity for all,” he said.
Kovind arrived in the country on Thursday for his five-day visit. Prior to his meeting with Duterte in Malacañang, the Indian President attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park.
On Saturday, Kovind will be present at the Philippines-India Business Conclave and Fourth Asean-India Business Summit and will have meetings with liver transplant patients, as well as with the beneficiaries of the Mahaveer Philippines Foundation, which provides prosthetic legs.
Kovind will also attend the installation of the Mahatma Gandhi Bust in Quezon City before meeting with the Indian community on Sunday. He will depart for Tokyo, Japan, on Monday.
Kovind is the third Indian president to visit the Philippines since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1949.
India was the 15th-ranked trading partner of the Philippines last year. The bilateral trade between the two countries stands at $2.32 billion and estimated Indian investments in the Philippines is valued at more than $900 million. MJ Blancaflor