Experts discussed the current projects and undertakings of Cambodia and the Philippines and provided their insights on the future prospects of the relations. In photo (clockwise): Ms. Jeremie Credo (Moderator and Senior Foreign Affairs Research Specialist of FSI), Amb. Maria Amelita Aquino (Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia), H.E. Mr. Pho Sam Ang (Deputy Director General of Asia-Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia), and Atty. Raymond Alikpala (Project Manager IV Privatization Group of the Department of Finance).

In celebration of the 65th anniversary of Cambodia-Philippines bilateral relations, the Foreign Service Institute and the National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations of Cambodia, with the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh, organized the Mabini Dialogue on the “Current State and Future Prospects for Cambodia-Philippines Relations,” on 19 October 2022 via Zoom.

The event provided an overview of the current undertakings and projects between the two countries and explored ways to further promote relations—with emphasis on improving economic cooperation and people-to-people linkages. Three esteemed speakers provided their insights on the matter.

Setting the tone of the discussion, H.E. Mr. Pho Sam Ang, Deputy Director General of the Department of Asia-Pacific, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, substantiated the steadily growing relationship of Cambodia and the Philippines by noting that the two countries have more than 20 Memoranda of Understanding in sectors such as agribusiness, defense and security, cultural heritage, and education. According to Mr. Pho, the success of the MOUs and future collaborations is hinged on the proper implementation of projects. Hence, he underscored the need to have increased regular visits from high level officials, apart from the established Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, to ensure that there will be sustained and effective implementation of projects and investments.

Filipinos and Cambodians share a long political and cultural history. Unknown to many, Filipinos once served as palace guards and cannoneers for King Norodom I of Cambodia. Meanwhile, Cambodian refugees were provided shelter in Morong, Bataan by the Philippine government during the tumultuous years of regime change in Indochina. Illustrating how interconnected the people are, Hon. Amelita C. Aquino, Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, emphasized the value of human linkages in binding nations together. For her, the sharing of culture, values, and ideas is the best way to cultivate appreciation amidst diversity among nations.

In boosting economic relations, both Amb. Aquino and Mr. Pho noted the need to expand business investments between the two countries. Potential areas to explore include food and beverage, and the agro-processing industries. Cambodia is hopeful that this aspiration will take fruition with the enactment of the new Cambodian Law on Investment that aims to create an open and transparent legal framework for investments.

Atty. Raymond Alikpala, Finance Project Manager at the Department of Finance, served as the discussant of the event. As a former protection officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cambodia for 10 years, Atty. Alikpala shared his personal experience and insights. He encouraged the participants to travel, immerse in the culture, and build ties on a personal level to gain a better understanding of Cambodia and its people. Likewise, he expressed the importance of including subjects on Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Philippine curriculum to expand the youth’s knowledge about our neighbors.

The participants of the Mabini Dialogue included personnel from the Department, foreign service posts, the diplomatic corps, other government agencies, and the academe.

Senior officials welcome the participants to the Mabini Dialogue on Cambodia-Philippines Relations. In photo (clockwise): H.E. Mr. Tean Samnang (President of the National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations of Cambodia), Dr. Marichu Liwanag (Acting Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Service Institute), and H.E. Hun Saroeun (Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kingdom of Cambodia).