Manila Standard : Singapore, France, Britain, EU ambassadors meet with BBM

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. on Monday received ambassadors from Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, and the European Union during separate courtesy calls at the BBM headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

First to visit Marcos was Gerard Ho, Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines at around 9 a.m., followed by UK Ambassador Laure Beaufils.

At around 11 am, European Union Ambassador Luc Vèron also paid Marcos a visit, followed by Ambassador Michelle Boccoz of France, who arrived at about noon.

During their private meetings, the envoys vowed to strengthen their countries’ ties with the Philippines in trade and diplomacy, as well as their common interests in democracy, self-determination, and economic recovery.

Singapore Ambassador Ho faced the media following his meeting with President-elect Marcos to discuss his short meeting with him.

“As you know, Singapore and the Philippines are friends and close partners. (Our) countries are both founding members of ASEAN and successive generations of Singaporean and Philippine leaders have worked together for the peace and prosperity of the region,” Ho said.

“In fact, during our conversation earlier with the President-elect, we talked about all the conversations our founding father Mr. Lee (Kuan Yew), and his father, Mr. Ferdinand Marcos (Sr.) had talked about when we were discussing developments in the region and working together on it,” Ho added.

The Singapore envoy also discussed the economic reforms between the two Asian countries.

“I think with the resumption of cross-border travel, as well as the passage of a lot of significant economic reforms in the PH, we are hopeful that we continue to grow this bilateral economic relationship with the PH and it will continue to flourish,” the ambassador noted.

“We see a lot of growth potential in the Philippines, and we hope to see more and more Singapore companies coming into the Philippines’ market,” Ho added.

He also confirmed that Singapore President Halimah Yacob invited Marcos to visit their country. However, he clarified there are no details for that as of yet, as they are still discussing the schedule of the two leaders.

“I have also mentioned and reiterated that invitation in the earlier meeting with President Marcos,” Ho told reporters.

Yacob reportedly made the invite via the congratulatory letter she sent to Marcos following the May 9 elections. A state visit is the most formal form of visit a head of state can do to a foreign country.

“This is something that we do often among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders,” Ho said.

Beaufils of the UK also insisted on the good relationship of their country with the Philippines.

“So, I am delighted that I just came out of the meeting with the President-elect which was really useful, very informative, and very warm,” she said.

“I was able to set out that the UK already has a really strong bilateral relationship with the Philippines and a strong friendship between our countries and between our peoples and that we intend to take that from strength to strength over the course of the president-elect’s administration,” Beaufils noted.

“We were able to discuss areas of particular joint interests where we want to further work together and expand and broaden and deepen our collaboration.”

“For example, as you know, the president-elect is very focused on the economy and we… are boosting the economy after the pandemic and we were able to discuss what the UK has been doing in that space and what more we would do to support businesses, to support trade, to support investments and infrastructure in particular,” she added.

Beaufils said they also talked about climate change, energy, the peace process in Mindanao, human rights, and media freedom.

“And I said I was very much looking forward to working with the next administration,” Beaufils said.

The France and EU ambassadors declined media interviews due to prior commitments.

Last week, Marcos received the United States Chargé d’Affaires Heather Variava and the ambassadors from Japan, South Korea, and India during separate meetings at the BBM headquarters in Mandaluyong.

The envoys also assured Marcos of their willingness to provide necessary assistance to hasten the country’s recovery from the ill effects of the pandemic.