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PH, Cambodia to sign tourism, labor pacts

Relations between the Philippines and Cambodia are expected to be deepened with the planned cooperation accords on tourism, sports development, labor protection, and anti-transnational crime efforts.

The four agreements on these mutual concerns are expected to be forged during President Duterte’s two-day state visit to Cambodia, according to Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia Christopher Montero.

Duterte was scheduled to arrive in Phnom Penh last night for a state visit upon the invitation of King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni. Duterte’s journey to Cambodia, which has been elevated from official to state visit, includes separate meetings with Cambodian President Hun Sen, local business executives, and the Filipino community.

“For now, we are expecting at least two agreements to be signed – one on sports cooperation, one on tourism cooperation and we are in the process of finalizing the text of two more agreements, one on transnational crime and the other on labor cooperation,” Montero said in a media interview in Phnom Penh. “So at least there’s a possibility there will be four agreements that will be signed during the visit,” he said.

Meanwhile, nine Filipinos are languishing in jail in Cambodia for drug trafficking complaints, according to a Filipino diplomat.

Duterte, however, is unlikely to raise the cases of these suspected drug mules during his meeting with Hun Sen today.

“As far as I know, it may not be raised during (the meeting) because they are well taken care of. We visit them regularly. Almost every other month we provide them with personal care items,” Montero said. “Some of the relatives come here and we assist them,” he added.

Montero said these Filipinos, including five women and four men, were caught by airport authorities carrying illegal drugs into Cambodia from South America. The suspects reportedly claim to be victims of international drug syndicates.

Montero said drug suspects could face imprisonment of 20 to 30 years although they may be given parole after serving seven to 10 years in prison. “Some have already final sentences while others are still on appeal,” he said.

He said the Filipinos would be repatriated back to the Philippines after serving their prison sentence. “There is no death penalty,” Montero added. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)