PNoy leaves for South Korea
MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III left for South Korea on Thursday morning for a 2-day state visit, in an effort to strengthen the Philippines' ties with the developed Asian nation.
The plane carrying Aquino left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at around 8 a.m.
He was accompanied by Senate President Franklin Drilon, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory Domingo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras and Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Andrea Abad.
Aquino will be meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House or the presidential palace where the two leaders will discuss regional and bilateral issues ranging from political dialogue, defense cooperation, to trade and investments relations, official development assistance, consular and labor cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense cooperation between the two countries will be signed by their respective defense ministers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the agreement will cover a wide range of cooperation from exchange of visits by military personnel and experts to humanitarian assistance and international peacekeeping activities.
The agreement is designed to help the Philippines improve its defense capabilities including the protection of its territory.
Aquino will be honored with a state dinner Thursday night.
On Friday, Aquino will visit the War Memorial and receive a recognition on behalf of his father Ninoy Aquino who served as a Manila Times correspondent covering the Korean War.
The Philippines was a member of the US-led 16-nation coalition that defended the Republic of Korea against the invasion of North Korea during the Korean War in the 1950s.
“So practically I would say that the Koreans treat us as blood brothers because of the tremendous help that we have given to them especially during the Korean war and the rehabilitation of Korea immediately after the war. So the visit of the President would be highly significant in the sense that the two Presidents will be exchanging this renewal of commitment to mutually help each other," said Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Luis Cruz.
The Aquino family also had a connection with one of South Korea’s former Presidents. In Boston, the Aquinos had met Kim Dae-jung in Boston during their exile in the 1980s.
On Friday afternoon, Aquino will then speak before the Korean business community and meet with businessmen and invite them to invest in the Philippines.
Before leaving for Manila on Friday night, Aquino will be speaking before the Filipino community in Seoul.
Trade between the Philippines and South Korea reached US$7.408 billion in 2012.
Korea is also a major source of Official Development Assistance (ODA) of the Philippines and the country’s top source of tourists. – with Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News and Jake Morales, dzMM