Statement of President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Republic of Singapore, during his state visit in the Philippines, April 3, 2014

President Aquino, President of the Republic of thePhilippines; His Excellencies; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; members of the media:

My wife Mary and I would like to thank President Aquino and the Philippine government for the very generous hospitality extended to us and to the Singapore delegation. This is my first state visit to the Philippines but not my first time in your beautiful country. And every time I’m here, I am touched by the warmth of the Filipino people.

President Aquino and I just had a good meeting. I congratulated President Aquino on the conclusion of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro. This is a momentous accomplishment and a testament to the leadership and efforts of President Aquino and his administration in brokering peace and stability for the Philippines and the region.

We also discussed developments in ASEAN. As founding members of ASEAN, Singapore and the Philippines share a common vision of building a strong, united, and stable ASEAN community. And we will continue to work closely to promote the common interest of our region.

President Aquino and I agreed that the Philippines-Singapore bilateral ties are extensive and growing from strength to strength. Our bilateral relations are underpinned by strong people to people ties.

Many Filipinos visit, work, and live in Singapore. Singapore has been a home away from home for them and they are an integral part of our society. There are also many Singaporeans seeking economic opportunities in the Philippines. The Philippines-Singapore Business Council, which was launched in 1994, has been meeting regularly and will be meeting again tomorrow.

The increase in air services between Singapore and the Philippines under the Air Services Agreement will bring about greater exchanges between our governments, businesses and peoples.

Given our close ties, Singapore also shares your grief when typhoon ‘Yolanda’ or ‘Haiyan’ struck last November. Many Singaporeans raised funds and volunteered in the disaster relief efforts.

We are heartened that the spirit and resilience of the Philippine people remain strong in such devastation. We have been working with the Philippine government and stakeholders in the rehabilitation efforts.

Tomorrow, I will be handing over Singapore people’s contributions to various partners and projects to alleviate the difficult situation caused by the typhoon. President Aquino, Mary and I look forward for a fruitful visit, where we will meet all and make new friends, and to cement the deep friendship between our two peoples.

Thank you.