MANILA, Philippines – An agreement to cooperate in enhancing maritime security was signed by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Indian Navy during the state visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to the Philippines.
Kovind and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed its signing on Friday, October 18, in Malacañang, as well as the signing of 3 other agreements.
The maritime security deal is formally titled "Memorandum of Understanding on the Sharing of White Shipping Information."
It aims to enhance maritime security "through the sharing of information on non-military and non-government shipping vessels between the Philippines and India," according to a Palace release.
The agreement was signed by PCG chief Admiral Elson Hermogino and Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) of India's Ministry of External Affairs.
"I welcomed India's role in the defense capability upgrade program against the backdrop of our growing security cooperation," Duterte said in his press statement after his meeting with Kovind.
He said he and the Indian leader affirmed their countries' interest in protecting maritime commons and advancing "the rule of law in our maritime domains."
He and Kovind also agreed that their countries should boost cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transboundary security threats.
The 3 other deals signed are the following:
Condolences for Mindanao quake
Kovind began both his remarks at the bilateral meeting and his press statement with expressing sympathy for the victims of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that hit Duterte's home region of Mindanao on Wednesday, October 16.
The quake killed at least 5 and wounded dozens.
"I convey my deepest condolences on the loss of life caused by the earthquake in Mindanao and wish a speedy recovery to those affected," Kovind said.
He said India looks forward to more cooperation with the Philippines given its status as one of Asia's fastest growing economies.
Kovind told Duterte he had brought with him a sizeable business delegation in the hopes of spurring investment between the two countries.
Kovind's state visit commemorates 70 years of diplomatic ties between India and the Philippines.
During his visit, he will meet with amputee beneficiaries of Indian aid and will unveil a bust of Indian icon Mahatma Gandhi. He leaves the country on Monday, October 21. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.