FAST FACTS: PH-Cambodia relations through the years
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to make a state visit to Cambodia from December 13 to 14, as part of his tour of neighboring Asian countries since he assumed the presidency.
Duterte's two-day trip aims to strengthen almost 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
He will pay a courtesy call on Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and engage in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The President will also meet with over 5,000 Filipinos living and working in Cambodia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Charles Jose said the visit will also involve discussions on defense and security operations, bilateral trade and investments, and cultural and tourism exchanges between the two countries.
While diplomatic relations between the two countries formally began nearly 6 decades ago, the earliest contacts between the two countries may date as far back as the 6th century.
During the early French colonial era, the Spanish government in Manila attempted to intervene in Cochin China, sending expeditionary forces with Filipino contingents.
Contact between Cambodia and the Philippines was reestablished in the early 19th century when the Spanish government sent Spanish and Filipino forces to assist the French in Indochina.
In August 1957, during the administration of former president Carlos P. Garcia, diplomatic relations were formally established between the two countries.
Duterte will the fifth Philippine president to visit Cambodia.
Before him were former presidents Diosdado Macapagal (February 1964), Fidel Ramos (December 1995), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (November 2002), and Benigno Aquino III (April and November 2012).
In December 2011, the Philippines and Cambodia held its first Joint Commission for Bilateral Consultations (JCBC) in Phnom Penh, signalling the start of bilateral dialogues and consultations.
The 2011 JCBC paved the way for the signing of a memorandum of agreement on air services in 2012, which led to the launch of direct flights between Manila and Siem Reap.
Former Philippine ambassador to Cambodia Noe Albano Wong said in a 2012 interview that the availability of direct flights helped boost tourism, trade and commerce, and people connectivity between the two countries.
In 2013, the Philippines and Cambodia signed an agreement on rice trade to uplift mutual economic benefits.
Both countries have also crafted agreements in the following sectors:
- Agricultural and agribusiness cooperation
- Enhancement of economic trade relations
- Tourism cooperation
- Rural health development cooperation
- Promotion and protection of investments
- Health workers' development cooperation
- Recognition of training and certification for seafarers
- Air services
“Sour mood” in the 2012 ASEAN Summit
In July 2012, Cambodia hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit during a time when tensions in the West Philippine Sea were beginning to escalate.
It was a tradition in the Asian Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) of the summit to come up with a communiqué or an official statement on major issues, but this was not accomplished under Cambodia's hosting of the event – the first time this had happened in 45 years.
Then-Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario had wanted to include in the joint statement a reference to Scarborough Shoal, subject of competing claims by the Philippines and China.
But Cambodia had opposed it, saying it could not accept "that the joint statement has become hostage of the bilateral issue (between the Philippines and China)." (READ: PH slams Cambodia over Asean summit)
As China’s closest ally in ASEAN, some put the blame on Cambodia for the bloc’s failure to issue a joint statement. But this was slammed by then-Cambodian ambassador to the Philippines Hos Sereythonh, who said that the “souring of the mood” during the AMM should be attributed to the “inflexible and non-negotiable position” of the Philippines and Vietnam, which also has claims to disputed waters.
Hos was recalled by the Cambodian Foreign Ministry days after his statement.
Despite this word barb, the Philippine ambassador then clarified that the relationship between the two countries remained “excellent.”
This year, the 10-member ASEAN also ignored a UN-backed tribunal ruling in its joint communiqué, still in the face of objections from Cambodia.
The ruling had favored the Philippines in its claims against China over territories in the South China Sea.
Jose earlier said the conflict might be discussed during Duterte’s trip. – Cathrine Gonzales/Rappler.com
Cathrine Gonzales is a Rappler intern studying journalism at Polytechnic University of the Philippines