Philippine Ambassador Meynardo LB. Montealegre writes to Việt Nam News on the Philippines' Independence Day, on June 12.
June 12 this year marks the 124th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, with the theme reflecting not only on the hard work and sacrifices of the Filipino heroes who fought for the country's independence but also the contribution of many Filipinos from the past year of the pandemic. It encourages the country to strive toward a better future.
Despite the restrictions and challenges, the Philippine economy is expected to grow by 8 per cent this year, more than the initially estimated 7.5 per cent growth. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 8.3 per cent, an impressive turnaround from the 3.8 per cent contraction a year earlier and better than the recorded 7.8 per cent growth in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The Philippine government remains optimistic that this economic growth will be sustained post-pandemic. The consumer confidence index was recorded at 40.4 per cent from 29.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the employment rate currently stands at 94.2 per cent. These figures are expected to increase as the local economy picks up, along with an increase in the interest rate and the depreciation of the Philippine currency.
Meeting of Ambassador Meynardo LB. Montealegre (left) with former Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (now President of Việt Nam) on March 17, 2021. Photos courtesy of the embassy
The prospects for further Philippine economic growth remain robust. It is hoped that Việt Nam and other countries will take advantage of these strong macro fundamentals through more aggressive trade and investment integration.
In 2021, trade between the two countries amounted to US$5.8 billion, the highest in the past 15 years. Việt Nam was the Philippines' 11th trading partner, its 12th export market and 10th import supplier.
For the Philippines, Việt Nam is a burgeoning dynamic market with large Philippine companies such as Liwayway, San Miguel, Metro Pacific, Jollibee, and others establishing a presence in various markets in the country. It is an important partner of the Philippines in ensuring food security as its topmost supplier of imported rice.
The Philippines also looks forward to elevating its political, social and cultural cooperation with Việt Nam in the years to come. Guided by the Philippines - Việt Nam Plan of Action for Implementation of the Strategic Partnership (from 2019 to 2024), the Philippines remains committed to strengthening cooperation with Việt Nam on various areas of common interest.
In July 2021, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made a telephone call to the newly elected Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính to renew the country's commitment to further strengthen both countries' Strategic Partnership.
The Philippine embassy has made efforts to ensure continuous and open communications, friendly engagements, and collaborations with the Vietnamese government, such as meetings with high-level officials from various government offices and agencies, including the Prime Minister, the National Assembly chairperson, and with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Public Security, and Industry and Trade.
As part of affirmation on people-to-people engagements, the Ambassador also met with People's Committees officials in Cần Thơ and Đà Nẵng and with the Philippine-Việt Nam Friendship Associations. In December 2021, the embassy joined a six-day art exhibition highlighting Vietnamese and Philippine indigenous craft products. The embassy attended several events related to the Southeast Asian Games to extend support to both the Philippine delegation and the Government of Việt Nam. Later this month, the embassy will also participate in an ASEAN traditional attire exhibition in Thừa Thiên Huế Province.
Ambassador Meynardo LB. Montealegre meets with Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn on May 9, 2022.
In April, the Vietnamese government generously donated 200 metric tons of rice to Filipinos affected by Typhoon Ria (Philippine typhoon name: Odette), which manifested Việt Nam's deep commitment to assisting the Philippines in times of need.
The Philippines and Việt Nam also reinforced the close and bilateral commitment of mutual support and cooperation in regional and international fora, including the ASEAN and the United Nations.
As its only Strategic Partner in the Southeast Asian region, the Philippines recognises the enormous potential for a deeper and meaningful partnership with Việt Nam. The Philippine embassy in Việt Nam is excited to be at the forefront of this deepening relationship between two beautiful and dynamic countries and be the catalyst for the rise of both the Philippines and Việt Nam together as we emerge and face the opportunities and challenges of a post-pandemic beginning. VNS