Toast speech by President Tony Tan at the State Banquet hosted in honour of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines

Toast speech By President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the State Banquet Hosted in honour of President of The Republic of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte, 15 December 2016

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to warmly welcome President Duterte and your distinguished delegation to Singapore. 

The links between Singapore and the Philippines go back a long way.  In the late 19th century, revered Philippine national hero Dr José Rizal left the Philippines for the first time, and one of his first ports of call was Singapore. 

Between 1882 and 1896, Dr Rizal visited Singapore four times, where he recorded detailed observations of the sights and sounds of pre-independence Singapore. His notes and insights provided a valuable account of 19th century Singapore. Today, a memorial of Dr Rizal stands on the grounds of the Asian Civilisations Museum. 

Since those days, the exchanges between the Philippines and Singapore have blossomed, especially after diplomatic relations were established in 1969.  Today, our two countries enjoy a robust friendship anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony and prosperity for our countries and the region. 

Both our countries believe in trade and development to improve the lives of our peoples.  Singapore companies are keen to invest in the Philippines – one of Asia’s fastest growing economies.  

Despite our small size, Singapore is the Philippines’ 4th largest trading partner and a top ASEAN investor. Singapore companies such as SIA Engineering and Singtel can contribute to the development of quality infrastructure, urban planning and ICT services. 

Both Singapore and the Philippines are doing more to enhance economic and business cooperation.  

This year, International Enterprise Singapore assisted a number of Singapore companies from the renewable energy and consumerism sector to secure their first projects in the Philippines. In line with the current administration’s priorities for inclusive economic development, IE Singapore is also encouraging Singapore companies to venture beyond Metro Manila, into cities such as Davao and Cebu. I am pleased to note that International Enterprise Singapore is devoting more resources to step up its presence in the Philippines in 2017, to better serve the growing interest of Singapore companies in the Philippine market. 

The Philippines-Singapore Business Council, comprising senior executives from both countries, is also a key platform for our business communities to forge stronger ties and explore commercial opportunities. I hope President Duterte and Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez will have a fruitful discussion during their meeting with Singapore business leaders tomorrow.

The strong economic ties between the Philippines and Singapore are complemented by warm people-to-people relations. Singapore is a familiar place to many Filipinos.  Each year, Singapore welcomes about 700,000 visitors from the Philippines, who enjoy visiting Universal Studios and Gardens by the Bay, as well as eating satay, chili crab and chicken rice. Many Singaporeans enjoy visiting the beautiful beaches in the Visayas and the majestic mountains of the Cordillera region. Singaporeans also love the delicious Philippine cuisine such as adobo léchon and sisig. And Singaporeans are no strangers to the art culture in the Philippines, given the abundant Filipino artworks displayed in the Singapore Art Museum and the National Gallery which showcase Philippine talent. Such exchanges enrich our societies and enhance mutual understanding of our cultures. 

With better connectivity between the Philippines and Singapore, and to regions beyond, people-to-people exchanges can continue to grow. This way, fellow Singaporeans will be able to see what my wife and I saw during my State Visit to the Philippines in 2014:  a fellow Southeast Asian nation that is resilient, hardy and talented.    

As founding members of ASEAN, the Philippines and Singapore share a vision and goal of maintaining peace and stability for our region. Next year, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. 

Singapore wishes the Philippines every success for its 2017 ASEAN Chairmanship. 

You may be assured of Singapore’s support for your Chairmanship.

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

May I now invite you to rise and join me in a toast:

  • To the good health and continued success of His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte;

  • To the health, happiness and prosperity of the people of the Philippines; and

  • To the enduring friendship between Singapore and the Philippines.

            Thank you.