By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

NEW ENVOY. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. receives the credentials of Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Lai Thai Binh (left) at Malacañan Pace in Manila on Tuesday (Jan. 2, 2023). During the event, Lai expressed the warmest greetings and sincere regards of Vietnam’s leader to Marcos. (Photo courtesy of Presidential Photojournalists Association)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday expressed optimism that the Philippines would have stronger relations with Vietnam and Timor Leste.

Marcos made the statement as he welcomed the new ambassadors of Vietnam and Timor Leste to the Philippines, as he received their credentials in separate ceremonies at Malacañan Palace in Manila.

He told newly-designated Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Lai Thai Binh that he is hopeful that the two countries would explore various areas to strengthen their bilateral relations.

“It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Manila, to the Philippines as the Ambassador of Vietnam to our country,” Marcos told Lai. “It is just in time as we have many things planned between our two countries and I’m very happy to have received your letter of credence.”

The Philippines and Vietnam may consider exploring many different areas, he said, noting that in his previous meetings with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gatherings, they discussed their intent to elevate the two countries’ ties.

“And I think that there are many, many more things that your PM and I have discussed for many hours during our ASEAN meetings. We have many areas that we can explore. For that, I look forward to doing that,” the President said.

During the presentation of his letter of credence, Lai expressed the warmest greetings and sincere regards of Vietnam’s leader to Marcos.

“I look forward to the kind attention and guidance to our bilateral relations,” Lai told Marcos.

Vietnam and the Philippines formally established diplomatic relations on July 12, 1976.

Vietnam’s relations with other countries are based on the principles of international law, respecting other countries’ independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and equality, and adhering to non-interference, Lai said.

New Timor-Leste envoy

Marcos also accepted the letter of credence of the new Timor-Leste Ambassador to the Philippines Marciano Octavio Garcia Da Silva.

“It is a great deal of pleasure that we are here to accept your letters of credence and to welcome you to the Philippines as ambassador of Timor-Leste to the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

“This is indicative of the growing partnership that your country and mine through our bilateral relationships, together with the multi-lateral relationships, have progressed in the last few years.”

In November 2023, Marcos met with President José Ramos-Horta who embarked on a four-day state visit to the country.

During the state visit, Marcos reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to support Timor-Leste’s development through the “South-South Cooperation.”

The Philippines and Timor-Leste celebrated 21 years of diplomatic relations in May 2023. (PNA)