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PHILIPPINE-BANGLADESH BILATERAL RELATIONS 

The Philippines was among those that gave steady and open support to Bangladesh’s struggle for liberation, and supported Bangladesh’s admission to the United Nations, which was achieved in 1974.

The Philippines at once recognized Bangladesh as a new state on 24 February 1972, soon after Bangladesh gained independence. Diplomatic relations were afterward established, first with the accreditation to the Philippines of Bangladesh’s first Ambassador to Indonesia and Thailand. In 1981, both the Philippines and Bangladesh opened missions in each other’s capital.

On 14 November 2007, a powerful cyclone hit southern Bangladesh devastating hundreds of villages along the country’s coastal area. Millions of people were affected and hundreds of thousands became homeless. As a show of solidarity, the Philippines donated PHP 5 million. The “Deed of Donation” was executed on 24 June 2008 between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President. During the hand-over ceremony, then Philippine Ambassador Zenaida Rabago conveyed the Philippines’ support for the continuing rehabilitation program for the cyclone victims.

The Bangladesh Government gave immediate aid to the Philippines after Typhoon Yolanda, with assistance of USD 1 million in humanitarian assistance last 14 November 2013 and the sending of a naval ship with a medical team. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself met briefly during a diplomatic event with Charge d’ Affaires Mohd. Noordin Pendosina Lomondot to personally express her sympathy and concern over the devastation wrought by the super typhoon on the thousands of Filipino families in the central region of the Philippines through which the typhoon passed. She conveyed that Bangladesh is ready to assist in whatever way within its capacity and offered to send a naval ship with a medical team and medicine to address the immediate medical needs of the Filipinos affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a leading Bangladesh pharmaceutical company, also conveyed through the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs donation of USD38, 000 worth of medicine.

There is currently no framework to guide RP-Bangladesh defense relations. Notwithstanding this, training and education exchanges between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Bangladesh Armed Forces (BAF) are offered on a reciprocal basis. Thirteen AFP officers have been sent to Bangladesh over the last 8 years to avail of its command and general staff courses. Two Bangladeshi officers have availed of RP’s defense courses for the last 10 years.

In 2008, a delegation from the National Defense College of Bangladesh was received by the National Defense College of the Philippines from 10-17 August 2008. The delegation also attended a lecture on Philippine Foreign Policy provided by the Undersecretary for Policy on 13 August 2008. Again in 2013, the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) served as host for the Overseas Study Tour of the National Defense College of Bangladesh for its National Defense Course 2013.

Industrial manufactures like chemicals, construction materials, machineries/transport equipment/apparatus and parts, metal manufactures and electronics account for the major export by the Philippines to Bangladesh, followed by resource-based products like textile yarns, twine and cordages, mineral products, and other resource-based commodities, consumer manufactures like fashion accessories and other consumer manufactures like paper and other paper products, cosmetics and personal care and household products, and food and food preparations.

Economic growth in Bangladesh placed increasing demand for utility vehicles, construction materials, computers, household appliances, farm machinery, automobile spare parts, house ware, etc. from the Philippines.

PM Hasina expressed her satisfaction with the five Bangladesh-Philippines joint ventures worth USD 32.48 million in the agro and service sectors. She requested that the Philippines import ceramic items and other world-class Bangladeshi products, and underscored the need for regular and periodic meetings between the Joint Economic Commission.

The Philippines has inked agreements with Bangladesh in trade, merchant shipping, economic and technical cooperation, promotion and reciprocal protection of investment. This March 2014 in Manila, other agreements are planned for signing: Visa Waiver Agreement on Diplomatic and Official Passports, Philippine-Bangladesh MOU on the Establishment of Foreign Policy Consultations, and a Sports Agreement.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Vice President Abu Alam Chowdhury and the Philippine Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Edgardo G. Lacson signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of their organizations during the 22ndConference the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) in Manila. Bangladesh sent a 12-member delegation to the conference, from which a CACCI vice-president was elected. The MOU aims to establish a Bangladesh-Philippine Business Council in Dhaka and a Philippine-Bangladesh Business Council in Manila to boost trade and investments both ways.


PHILIPPINE-SRI LANKA BILATERAL RELATIONS

Diplomatic relations were established between Sri Lanka and the Philippines in 1961, with the Government of the Philippines opening a legation in Colombo.

Sri Lanka had a Charge d’ Affaires-level Mission, accredited to Japan; and this was upgraded to Embassy level in Colombo and Manila in 1964 and 1966 respectively.

On 1st March 1990, the Sri Lankan government decided to close down the Embassy in Manila, while the Government of the Philippines also closed down their Embassy in Colombo on 30th June 1993. In September 1998, a new Sri Lankan Resident Mission was reopened in Manila.

Philippine interests are represented in Sri Lanka by an Honorary Consul General in Colombo appointed on 20th December 1993. There are about 400-500 skilled and semi- skilled Filipino workers in Sri Lanka.

The following bilateral agreements have been signed between the two countries:

  • Exchange of notes, concerning the proposal, to abolish non-immigrant visa requirements for the citizens of the two countries, signed on 13th May 1972
  • An Air Transport Agreement signed on 18th December 1976, with date of entry into force on 02 December 1980
  • A Cultural Cooperation Agreement was concluded between Sri Lanka and the Philippines on 11 November 1976, with date of entry into force on 12 December 1979. There was also an Executive Program of Cultural Cooperation signed on 28 April 1981. Since then, there have been several exchanges of cultural troupes. This agreement is now under review.
  • A Trade Agreement was signed on 8th December 1992, which provided for ‘Most Favored Nation’ Treatment in Trade and Economic relations between the two countries.
  • An Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Income and Taxes signed on 11 December 2000.

The following high-level visits have been taken place between two countries:

From Sri Lanka:

  1. Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranayake visited Manila in 1976 in the capacity of Prime Minister, during which a Cultural Agreement providing for the exchange of personnel and literature between the two countries was signed.
  2. Hon. R. Premadasa visited Manila as the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister.
  3. Hon. W.J.M. Lokubandara, the Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka visited Manila in April 2005.
  4. At the invitation of Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka paid a visit to Manila to participate in the 14th ASEAN Regional Forum which was held from 31 July – 02 August 2007 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The Hon. Minister was accompanied by Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse of the Ministry of Defense, Chief of Defense Staff and Senior Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the 14th ARF in Manila, Sri Lanka was acceded to the ARF as the 27th Member. Sri Lanka also signed the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC) in South-East Asia in the presence of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers.
  5. Participation of MP Mr. Mohan Priyadarshana De Silva Agampody in the Asian Inter-Parliamentary Assembly: Ensuring Social Protection for Migrant Workers.
  6. Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development Additional Secretary for Administration and Finance Mr. Jayawickrama Wijesooriya Arachchilige, Ministry of Education Additional Secretary Mr. Dissanyake Mudiyanselage Anura Ranaweera Bandara Dissanayake, and National Institute of Education Dir. Gen. Mr. Abeyrathna Bandara Weerakoon Mudiyanselage participated in the Skills for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Asia-Pacific: An International Forum by the ADB, from 10 to 12 December 2012
  7. Attendance of Sri Lankan Parliament Member Hon. Thalatha Atukorale to the International Leadership Conference in Manila from 10 to 14 January 2013.
  8. Participation of Sri Lankan Police Superintendent Mr. Dhammika Priyantha Pallek Kankanamge and Inspector for Criminal Investigation Mr. Tuan Ishan Raban in the 2nd Phase of the Interpol Capacity Building Programme on Counter Terrorism for Asia 2012 to 2014 to be held in Manila from 21 January to 01 February 2013.
  9. The Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs, Professor G.L. Peiris, visited the Philippines from 31 July to 03 August 2014. Secretary Del Rosario and Minister Peiris discussed possible areas for bilateral cooperation, particularly in agriculture, trade and investments, construction, power and energy, tourism and air services. Minister Peiris also expressed Sri Lanka’s interest in sharing with the Philippines experiences and best practices in disaster risk management. Secretary Del Rosario briefed Minister Peiris on the arbitral proceedings concerning the West Philippine Sea (WPS), while Minister Peiris conveyed his government’s appreciation for the Philippines’ support to Sri Lanka at international fora, including the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

From the Philippines:

  1. In the late nineteenth century, the Philippine’s National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, thrice visited Colombo and cultivated friendships. To honor this historical link, a suite in the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo where Dr. Rizal stayed has been named as the “Jose Rizal Suite.”
  2. RADM Jose Luis M. Alano, AFP attended the 60th Anniversary of Sri Lanka Navy on 08 December 2010, when he also gave a speech at a Naval and Maritime Symposium on “Collective Response for Maritime Disasters and SAR (Search and Rescue).”
  3. In May 2012, Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, made a visit to Sri Lanka on behalf of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Philippine exports to Sri Lanka consist of machine parts and accessories, activated carbon, cotton, iron and steel, perfumes, food, electrical machinery, construction materials, textiles and yarns, powdered milk and cream, boxes, cartons, packaging material, paper products, flour, starch and malt extracts. Sri Lanka ships fabrics, tires, tea, gloves, apparel, clothing accessories, coats, jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, rubber tires, cucumber, gherkins, tower and cable cranes to the Philippines.


 

PHILIPPINE-MALDIVES BILATERAL RELATIONS

H.E. Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo is the 10th Philippine Ambassador to be accredited to the Maldives, following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 12 July 1974 between the two countries.

Under Ambassador Bahnarim Guinomla, the 9th Ambassador to be accredited to the Maldives, a Philippine Honorary Consulate in Male was established with the Mr. Abdullah Salih at the helm. The Maldives has also an accredited Honorary Consul in the Philippines.

As of 2010, there have been 12 Maldivian participants to non-degree trainings offered by the Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines (TCCP) of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Maldives is also becoming a labor destination for Philippine overseas workers in the tourism and construction industries.

The Philippines and The Maldives are currently studying several drafted agreements proposed: Philippine-Maldives Memorandum of Agreement on Extradition, Mutual Legal Assistance and Exchange of Prisoners; Sports Cooperation; Medicine and Health Services Agreement; Proposal for a Labor Agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and Government of the Republic of the Maldives (Protection of the Migrant workers); and MOU on Immigration. When signed, they will be the first bilateral agreements between the two countries.