PH, Vietnam to form 6-year pact vs crime, drugs
HANOI—The Philippines and Vietnam will establish a six-year action plan to boost their bilateral exchanges, including law enforcement activities to fight transnational crime and the illegal drug trade.
The two countries committed to increase the exchange of people-to-people, high level and other visits, uphold bilateral cooperation mechanisms, and implement agreements they signed.
The joint statement of the Philippines and Vietnam was issued on account of President Duterte’s two-day official visit, during which he met state president Tran Dai Quang and other top officials.
Among the highlights of the statement was the commitment to intensify defense and law enforcement cooperation against transnational crime and the trade and trafficking of drugs in Southeast Asia.
The two countries will be sharing expertise, experience and intelligence information in boosting its law enforcement cooperation.
“On the various aspects of bilateral exchanges, the two Presidents agreed to establish a six-year Action Plan (2017-2022) to guide the implementation of activities in the areas of common interest under this new level of relations,” part of the statement read.
The two countries will implement their signed agreements particularly the 9th Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation at Foreign Minister level to be held in the Philippines in 2017.
Duterte flew to Hanoi on Wednesday at the invitation of Tran, making Vietnam the third country he has visited as President.
In the joint statement, the two leaders recalled the strategic partnership signed in November 2015 on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila.
The partnership was aimed at “elevating the level and intensity of bilateral exchanges” and to “harness advantages for common development and in pursuit of shared strategic interests.”
Both countries are members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Both are claimants to disputed territories in the South China Sea, which is being claimed mostly by China under its nine-dash-line claim.
It may be recalled that Vietnam will be hosting the next Apec meet, while the chairmanship of the Asean was recently turned over to Duterte as the Philippines hosts the next Asean summit.
Both Duterte and Tran reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as unimpeded commerce in the region particularly in the South China Sea.
They urged the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, self-restraint in the conduct of activities, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of international law.
They also vowed to “work expeditiously for the early adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as well as their position on the award by the tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration.”
“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to upholding peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, including advancing Asean community building efforts through the full and effective implementation of the Asean Community Vision 2025,” the statement said.
Duterte and Tran both acknowledged the value of the existing defense cooperation mechanism, such as the policy dialogue between their defense ministries.
They also “called on their defense officials to identify new avenues to deepen and intensify cooperation in line with the vision of the strategic partnership,” part of the statement read.
They also called for the establishment of a security dialogue between the Ministry of Public Security of Viet Nam and the National Security Council of the Philippines.
During their tete-a-tete, Duterte and Tran agreed to boost to intensify law enforcement cooperation against transnational crime, specifically the illicit trade and trafficking of drugs in the region.
They also agreed to “build on each other’s expertise and experience, specifically through more intelligence exchange activities.”
In addition, the two leaders urged for expedited negotiations for bilateral agreements on extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal issues and transfer of sentenced persons.
Meanwhile, the two countries will bolster existing maritime cooperation mechanisms such as the hotline communication mechanism between their respective Coast Guards.
They also agreed to “adopt other measures to ensure the safety and security of fishermen from both countries as well as to solve amicably the unexpected incidents at sea.”
Commitments will be undertaken to further maritime and oceanic cooperation, particularly the Joint Commission on Maritime and Oceanic Affairs at Deputy Foreign Minister level and Legal Expert Working Group on Maritime Cooperation.
In the area of fisheries, they agreed to form a joint working group and implement a memorandum on agreement on fisheries cooperation signed in 2010.
They will also “consider signing of a mutual recognition agreement on quality control and management and safety of agricultural and fishery products; and memorandum of understanding on education cooperation.”
Furthermore, the two leaders called on businesses to further increase the volume of two-way trade and investment by making the business environment in both countries conducive to investment.
In particular, areas of potential investment include agriculture, food processing, tourism services and infrastructure.
They will also mull extending the memorandum of agreement on rice trade and convene the 2nd Joint Commission on Trade.
The two countries welcomed the recent adoption of a cultural exchange program between the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Philippines’ National Commission on Culture and the Arts.
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