Locsin commits to deeper PH-Sri Lanka ties
Sri Lanka celebrated its 72nd anniversary of independence at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel on Feb.5, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., as guest speaker.
Locsin vowed to pursue deeper ties between Philippines and Sri Lanka. In his speech, he referred to the decades of civil war and division and conflict the country had undergone and commended the energetic development and sustainable progress that can be witnessed at present.
He also stated that the Philippines hopes to learn many valuable lessons in the manner by which Sri Lanka achieved victory.
“I take this opportunity to reiterate my personal commitment and that of my government to continue fostering deeper ties between the Philippines and Sri Lanka,” Locsin said.
Last year, when Sri Lanka’s former President Maithripala Sirisena visited Manila, the Philippines and Sri Lanka signed at least five agreements in the fields of defense, tourism, education, and agriculture.
Engagements between Manila and Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, also increased, marked by the historic stop at Sri Lanka’s East Container Terminal of two Philippine Navy ships on its way to the Middle East in late January.
The ships—BRP Alcaraz (PS-16) and BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602)—had left Manila on Jan. 13 to help repatriate Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) affected by tensions in the Middle East.
Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Shobini Gunasekera, in her remarks, expressed optimism that the existing good relations provided an excellent platform for broadening the horizons of bilateral cooperation with deepened bonds of friendship between the two peoples.
In sum, the cultural evening showcased “So Sri Lanka, the Resplendent Island” and was made colourful by live performances of a traditional dance sequence and a wide array of delectable spices that infused Sri Lankan cuisine being served to the guests.
The evening was also one of the series of events that the Embassy of Sri Lanka undertook together with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau to project their nation as an emerging tourism destination for the very enthusiastic Filipino traveller.
In recent years, there has been a marked increase in Filipino tourists visiting Sri Lanka. Statistics provided by the Sri Lankan Embassy showed that the number of Filipino tourists to Sri Lanka has grown from 11,160 in 2014 to at least 19,303 in 2018.
Members of the diplomatic community, Philippine government officials, business sector, tourism industry players, media, cross section of Sri Lankans based in the Philippines and friends of Sri Lanka, attended the event.
In further strengthening and consolidating bilateral relations, Secretary Locsin, at the reception, committed to re-establish the Philippine Embassy in Sri Lanka before end 2020, completing six decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries.—with reports from PNA