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120th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence

12 June 2018, Pretoria, South Africa

Message of Ambassador Joseph Gerard B. Angeles on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of the Declaration of Philippine Independence and 25 Years of Philippines – South Africa Diplomatic Relations

Photo: Ambassador Joseph Gerard B. Angeles of Philippines and South African Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi raising a toast

It has been twelve decades since Philippine revolutionaries declared our country’s independence, and since then our people have cherished the values of freedom, self-determination and democracy. While the sound of revolutionary cannon fire has long been drowned out by the busy noises of rapid industrialization and urbanization in Philippine cities, the Filipino people continue with the same zeal and fervor to obtain the fruits of that freedom – to be free from poverty, inequality, and lack of access to economic opportunity. And I have the honor and pleasure of informing you that through hard work, we are succeeding.

The Philippine economy has been growing at a strong and steady rate of 6% to 7% in the past recent years, owing to firm economic fundamentals. In the first quarter of this year alone, Philippine GDP growth has been reported at 6.8% and could surpass even our country’s biggest neighbors by the end of the year. Robust economic performance has led to a steady influx of foreign investment. FDI growth levels have reached as high as 56.7% in January this year compared to the previous year’s record in the same month. All these are attributable to various economic policy reforms such as improvements in the ease of doing business, public infrastructure enhancements, and human capital investments.

Apart from 120 years of independence, we also celebrate a milestone year as the Philippines and South Africa mark 25 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations. But unbeknownst to many, people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and South Africa can be traced as far back as the late 1800s when the first Filipinos arrived and settled in Kalk Bay in the Western Cape. Today, if one visits Kalk Bay and saunters its historic streets, one would find a flight of steps which the Kalk Bay Historic Society and the City of Cape Town have sought to call “The Manila Steps” in honor of those Filipinos that arrived there centuries ago.

Prior to the establishment of diplomatic relations with South Africa in 1993, the Philippines had already been firmly beside the South African people, particularly in the struggle against apartheid. The strongest expression of this support was the signing by the Philippines in 1974 of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

Today, we have with South Africa a yearly mechanism of consultations in various fields of bilateral interest. From agriculture, trade and tourism, we have also begun to explore ventures and discussions into other fields of cooperation such as maritime interests and science and technology.

South Africa is currently the largest trading partner of the Philippines in the African continent. The balance of trade favors the Philippines, with key Philippine exports to South Africa including automotive components, semiconductors, photovoltaic cells, light emitting diodes and tobacco. South Africa, on the other hand, exports to the Philippines such products as chemicals, iron, vegetable seeds and maize.

Clearly, foremost among our goals is to foster more robust trade and economic relationships with South Africa. Moving forward with this objective, we have had numerous exchanges of business delegations between the Philippines and South Africa, with the perspective that South Africa is a gateway to the rest of the countries in the region.

This year, as we mark 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Africa, we also mark the centenary of the birth of President Nelson Mandela and recall his visit to the Philippines in 1997 when he mentioned to his hosts, then President Fidel Ramos and former-President Corazon Aquino, that he held the Philippines close to his heart for its consistent opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Madiba said, This is one of the countries that had been very successful in overcoming the legacy of colonialism, of poverty, of ignorance, and we stand to gain a great deal by associating with it.

With the words of Madiba in mind, allow me to end with a few words to express the strong and excellent bilateral relationship of the Philippines with South Africa. This is a friendship that started with the support of the Philippines for the liberation movement that ripened to formal diplomatic relations at the end of apartheid in 1993-1994.  Since then, the relationship has grown from strength-to-strength, and this year we are looking forward to having our fifth bilateral consultations here in Pretoria later in the year at the much higher level of our Deputy Foreign Ministers.

On this note, again I thank you all for being with us today as we celebrate 120 years of Philippine Independence, and 25 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Africa. We look forward to more fruitful years of collaboration with South Africa, our other partner countries in Africa, our ASEAN family, and the larger diplomatic community in Pretoria.

Embassy of Philippines in South Africa

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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June 2018

 
 
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