Philippines, Brunei forge pact on maritime cooperation

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Philippines, Brunei forge pact on maritime cooperation
President Marcos meets with Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan yesterday. Marcos is in Brunei for a two-day state visit and will head to Singapore to address the Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue 2024.
STAR / File

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – In his first trip to Brunei as head of state, President Marcos yesterday witnessed – along with his host Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah – the signing of a maritime cooperation agreement covering information and research sharing, pollution control and skills training, among others.

The memorandum of understanding on maritime cooperation was one of the four deals whose signing was witnessed by Marcos and Bolkiah. The other MOUs were on tourism, seafarers’ training and food security.

It was not clear if the signing of the MOU on maritime cooperation had anything to do with Marcos’ pre-departure statement that he would discuss with Bolkiah “ways for further cooperation with Brunei in ensuring the defense of our countries and of our region.”

The Philippines is embroiled in a dispute with China over maritime claims in the South China Sea.

The two Southeast Asian countries also forged MOUs on mutual recognition of Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates and on boosting tourism.

Also signed was a letter of intent to renew an MOU on food security and agricultural cooperation.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of the deals at Istana Nurul Iman, the Brunei leader’s official residence. It was one of the first events during Marcos’ two-day visit here.

“We hope to expand the partnerships that we have begun and we feel that there is much potential that we can examine,” Marcos said.

“I think the MOUs that are being signed today that we shall witness, Your Majesty, will be a very good start to once again re-energize, and I think the areas that we have talked about – that we have paid attention to for these MOUs are certainly rich with potential,” he added.

The Sultan cited the two countries’ stronger people-to-people exchanges and economic ties.

“I’m looking forward to further enhancing our friendship in areas of future interest, which I believe will greatly benefit our countries and people,” Bolkiah said.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said the MOU on maritime cooperation is “crucial for maritime nations like the Philippines and Brunei.”

The MOU on the recognition of certificates issued under the provisions of the International Convention on STCW for seafarers permits the two countries to recognize the national certificates issued by each other’s agencies. It replaces and updates a prior MOU inked by the two countries in 2001.


The MOU on tourism cooperation, meanwhile, was signed between the Philippines’ Department of Tourism and Brunei’s Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism. It seeks to generate cooperative tourism projects, boost tourist arrivals between the two countries, support niche tourism development, particularly in the area of Islamic tourism, and promote Muslim-friendly destinations.

Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco said the agreement sets the stage for a “dynamic” partnership between the Philippines and Brunei.

She noted that the deal includes collaborations to expand Halal and Muslim-friendly tourism, medical and wellness tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition tourism and to increase tourism investments.

“The collaboration is expected to enhance the overall tourist experience, strengthen economic ties and contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism industry in both countries,” Frasco said in a statement.

The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture and Brunei’s Agriculture and Agrifood Department also inked an LOI to pursue further cooperation aimed at achieving food security by increasing the production of agricultural products and further modernizing farming technologies.

The letter is a product of the third Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the two countries convened in Manila on Aug. 15 last year.

“It underscores the interest of both the Philippines and Brunei to explore further cooperation and collaboration on the field of agriculture for food security and sustainable agriculture between the two countries,” the PCO said.

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