Statement by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the joint press briefing on the visit of Timor-Lester President José Ramos-Horta

Speeches 10 November 2023

Good morning our friends from the media. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

I am pleased to inform you and the Filipino people of the outcomes [from] the State Visit of His Excellency President José Ramos-Horta of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

This State Visit aimed to revitalize bilateral relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. The last High-Level visit between our two countries was in 2013, when the former President Xanana Gusmão visited the Philippines.

I am pleased that President Ramos-Horta has accepted my invitation and is here with us in Manila today.

He is a good friend of the Philippines and I’m happy to note that this visit of the President is not the first visit that he has made. It is one of many visits that he has made to the Philippines.

So, today we will adopt him as an honorary Filipino. [applause]

We took the opportunity to study our existing platforms of cooperation and of partnerships, as well as we discussed matters of great importance to both our nations, particularly in the fields of political cooperation and in people-to-people exchanges.

The President and I committed to direct our respective Ministries to further the negotiations [on the] following fields:

1. To reconvene the policy consultations that are hosted by Timor-Leste in the near future. There are many aspects to that consultation that will further the relations between our two countries;

2. We should like to also explore the possibilities of having direct flights between our capitals through an Air Services Agreement;

3. And also, establish a Bilateral Social Security Agreement to be a safety net for both our country’s professionals working in each other’s country;

4. To strengthen educational cooperation as well between our higher learning institutions and increase our student exchanges.

In addition, as one of the democracies in Southeast Asia, the Philippines also committed to assist Timor-Leste in the skills formation of the Timorese people.

In recent months, under the direction of our Technical Cooperation Council of the Philippines, an attached agency of the Department of Foreign Affairs, we have deployed a team from our Department of Science and Technology who assisted the Timorese people in enhancing [their] skills on food processing. We committed to increase [our] engagements in such technical cooperation and we have tasked our respective Ministries to explore and enhance future partnerships on this matter.

I would also like to — I’m very happy to report that beyond the formalities of these exchanges, President Horta and I had a very productive and interesting discussion on the mechanisms and the modalities that we — with the experience of His Excellency in international affairs, the many suggestions and mechanisms that he brought to light that can be of use to the Philippines when it comes to the challenges that we are presently facing in the issues that are regarding the South China Sea or as we refer to it, the West Philippine Sea.

That is why it is with gratitude that we also have received the expressions of support from the President for the Philippines in terms of the rules — our adherence to a rules-based international law, to UNCLOS.

And of all the different issues that we are facing, geopolitical issues that we are facing around the world, once again, the experience of the President has shown what the Philippines can do to further our discussion and our argument as to the continued adherence of all parties to a rules-based system and international law.

And for that, I thank him very much.

And on a final note, I also take this opportunity to affirm the Philippines’ support to Timor-Leste’s membership bid in ASEAN. I recall that during the recent 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia, we ASEAN Leaders adopted the Roadmap for Timor-Leste’s Full Membership in ASEAN. We strive to pursue this work alongside our ASEAN brothers and sisters and we look forward to seeing Timor-Leste’s status in ASEAN be successfully elevated from an observer, as it is now, to a full member in the very near future.

With that, thank you very much. Maraming salamat po. [applause]

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