The future direction of the Philippines-South Korea security cooperation was highlighted in the Mabini Dialogue hosted by the Foreign Service Institute on 2 July 2018 at the Benedicto Room, Carlos P. Romulo Library, Department of Foreign Affairs. Titled “New Dimensions of Security Cooperation between the Philippines and South Korea,” the forum featured His Excellency Han Dong-Man, Ambassador of South Korea to the Philippines, as guest speaker and Dr. Michelle Palumbarit of the University of the Philippines as discussant.
According to Amb. Han, the PH-KR defense cooperation is rooted in history, particularly citing Philippine assistance extended to South Korea during the Korean War. The Philippines was also the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) country to establish diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1949. During the Philippine chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2017, ASEAN played a positive role in promoting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
The PH-KR security cooperation spans both traditional and nontraditional dimensions. On military cooperation, Amb. Han mentioned the support that South Korea has provided the Philippines in the form of military logistics and capabilities enhancement. On anti-terrorism cooperation, South Korea donated 5 million pesos to those affected by the armed conflict in Marawi. South Korea is willing to further cooperate with the Philippines in the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernization plan, the Philippine government’s Marawi Rehabilitation Master Plan ,and the PNP’s capacity-building, including exploring cooperation mechanisms on cybersecurity issues.
Amb. Han also explained President Moon Jae-In’s policy in the ongoing peace process in the Korean Peninsula and reiterated South Korea’s overarching vision of attaining peaceful coexistence and co-prosperity in the region. Through the years, efforts through exchanges have been undertaken to address the conflicts between South and North Korea. The Inter-Korean Summit in 2018 marked another milestone in the relations. The Panmunjeom Declaration, according to Amb. Han, demonstrated how the Inter-Korean summit was able to produce tangible progress in improving the relations and trust-building.
With the recent US-North Korea Summit in Singapore, Amb. Han said relations between the two countries have entered a new phase. The Singapore Summit Joint Statement differs from previous agreements involving the US and North Korea because of its top-down and comprehensive approach.
Dr. Palumbarit echoed Amb. Han’s points and acknowledged the importance of maintaining good relations between the Philippines and South Korea in overcoming various challenges in security, terrorism, cybersecurity, and environmental issues. She then recommended that both parties work on increasing the number of Filipinos in South Korea, cooperate on sustainable development in line with South Korea’s global commitment to green growth, collaborate on having more Korean language teachers, increase dialogue with Filipino businessmen and investors, and promote trade and cultural exchanges.
Officials and staff of the DFA and other government agencies and university students attended the dialogue.