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Strengthening PH-Thailand ties

The relationship between the Philippines and Thailand is both historic and critical to both countries’ development.

It should be noted that when we established official relations with Thailand in 1949, that was the first time the Philippines established formal diplomatic relations with a state in Southeast Asia.

We have a lot to learn from each other. In particular, we both have a very vibrant and transitional democracy. Here, we hope to heighten our cooperation in order to learn from the experiences of both democracies. We can also help each other in terms of regional security and development issues like terrorism, trafficking, and cybersecurity.

We also wish to see increased cooperation between the Philippines and Thailand at the level of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) especially now that we are the current chair.

For these reasons, the recent visit of President Rodrigo Duterte (his second visit since assuming office) to Thailand is very significant. In between meetings with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as well as the Thai private sector and the robust Filipino community in Thailand, the official visit resulted in the signing of three agreements on science and technology, agriculture, and tourism.

The President and the Prime Minister also pledged to strengthen bilateral relations, especially in terms of defense, education, and air services. I was also informed that similar bilateral deals are being discussed with respect to communications covering TV, radio, print, and even social media.

In my case, I have always admired Thailand’s approach to mall development and retailing which is something related to what we are doing at Vista Land. I always find their retail and mall development “nicer” and a bit more “artistic.”

I always enjoy my time in Thailand, whether business or pleasure. In particular, I admire the many flowers that you see around and the abundance of fruits all over the country. I understand that this was part of the royal project by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej who really pushed the initiative so that fruits, vegetables, and flowers formerly considered as luxury to the general population are now widely available.

In particular, I am impressed by the beautiful orchids that I see all throughout the country—in airports, malls, hotels, etc. This is an important reason why I consider Thailand as a beautiful country. The other reason is the Thai people themselves. Friendly, happy, and welcoming, the Thais are part of the reason why Thailand is an important tourism hub in our region.

We also have very friendly people and, just like Thailand are blessed with many natural wonders. That is why I think we can learn from the tourism strategies of Thailand so we can increase our tourist arrivals here in the country.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join President Duterte in his trip to Thailand. I thought it was a very productive visit that bodes well for the relationship between the two countries.

I am very thankful to the very kind words the President lavished upon me. I may not be deserving of all the praises he gave me during his speech before the Filipino community there, but let me just say that I consider President Digong a very good friend. We have been friends since our time together in Congress. I also consider him as a patriot who would give up his life in order to protect the interest of the people he serves.

I am also happy that during the official visit, I was able to meet Thailand’s ambassador to the Philippines. The ambassador, H.E., Thanatip Upatising, is a very kind individual who is the perfect person to represent his country’s interest here in the Philippines.

My wife, Senator Cynthia Villar, has known him for awhile because of their common interest in agricultural development. She has been telling me kind words about the ambassador and I can tell you now that she is not exaggerating.

Mr. Upatising is one diplomat who is passionate about upholding Thailand’s interests and in strengthening bilateral relations between the Philippines and Thailand. Thailand is very lucky to have him as ambassador to the Philippines.

(For comments/feedback email to mbv.secretaeiat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.) (Senator Manny Villar)