60th anniversary of Philippine-Cambodia diplomatic relations: A vibrant people-centered relationship

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Celebrating milestones provide opportunities for retrospection on how far one has come, and in charting the right course for the future. Relations between the Philippines and Cambodia have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, as the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh redoubled its efforts to engage the government and people of Cambodia towards deepening our friendly ties.   

Official diplomatic relations between our two countries were established in 1957. Between 1958 and 1965, Philippine interests in Cambodia were overseen by the Philippine Embassy in Saigon, and at some point, by the Philippine Embassy in Bangkok.

The first resident diplomatic mission in Cambodia was established in 1965 with the late Philippine Senator Rogelio de la Rosa as the first ambassador from 1965 to 1971, during which he developed close official and personal ties with the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. The Philippine government closed its embassy in Phnom Penh in March 1975, as the Lon Nol regime’s defeat loomed and the Khmer Rouge took power.

Diplomatic relations between our two countries were re-established in December 1994. The Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh formally re-opened in January 1995, which led to the signing of agreements on trade and investment, health workers development, tourism, rural development and air services.

In recent years, the Philippines’ relations with Cambodia not only deepened but has steadily transformed into a people-centered relationship. To illustrate, the Philippine embassy organised a Philippine Education Fair in 2016 offering Cambodian students an alternative destination for higher education abroad. Supporting us in this undertaking were hundreds of Cambodians who graduated from Philippine universities and were eager to share their testimonials on living and studying in the Philippines. The two countries also launched round table meetings on migration cooperation, during which best practices on labour migration were exchanged. In addition, cultural and tourism agreements serve as avenues for the Filipinos and Khmers to learn about each other and from each other.

Most recently, bilateral ties were further enhanced by the signing of four cooperation pacts in the areas of labour, sports, combating transnational crimes and tourism during the State Visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte to Cambodia in December 2016.

People-to-people relations are also going strong. The world-famous heritage province of Siem Reap and the Philippines’ bustling industrial and political capital, Manila, are connected by a direct flight operated by Philippine carrier Cebu Pacific Air. Cambodia received 108,032 Filipino tourists in 2016 and is home to more than 6,000 Filipino expatriates gainfully employed in the sectors of engineering, accounting, banking, business consulting, education, arts and entertainment. In the business sector, major Philippine food and beverage brands San Miguel, Liwayway, URC, Purefoods and Potato Corner have already found their way to the Cambodian market. Fashion retail giant Penshoppe and luxury jewels by Jewelmer are also thriving as Cambodia’s rapid economic boom leads to increased domestic consumption.

The Philippines is committed to the continued deepening of political and economic relations, towards a future of prosperity, stability and security, for the mutual benefit of Filipinos and Cambodians.

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