President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. vowed on Friday to strengthen and continue to expand the 21-year-old diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Timor-Leste. 

“I hope that these exchanges – this visit of yours will be the beginning of more exchanges between our two countries,” President Marcos told Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta in a bilateral meeting at the Malacañan Palace. 

President Marcos also expressed his gratitude to President Ramos-Horta for his invitation to visit Timor-Leste.

“We would certainly want to do that, as I said, to continue to expand the relations between Timor-Leste and the Philippines,” President Marcos said, referring to the invitation of President Ramos-Horta. 

“So, I am very optimistic that your visit here today will be a very important start to…developing that relationship and deepening that relationship between our two countries,” he added. 

The President also reiterated the Philippine government’s support to Timor-Leste especially in its involvement in international relations and events, and other issues to maintain peace and stability in the region. 

 “The Philippines has always been very supportive of, not only the process of independence that East Timor went through, but also for your involvement in international relations and international events and issues that we feel are necessary for us to be able to come together and for us to be able to make a difference and to maintain the peace and the stability in our region, especially in these rather difficult times that we are facing,” Marcos said. 

The diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Timor-Leste were formally established on May 20, 2002.   

President Ramos-Horta expressed his sincere gratitude to President Marcos and to the Philippine government for the warm welcome extended to him and to his delegation. 

“For me, it’s a great honor, a pleasure to be in Manila among many friends and I wish to express my sincere deepest gratitude for the warm hospitality extended to me and the delegation,” President Ramos-Horta told President Marcos and the Philippine government officials.  

President Ramos-Horta also thanked the Philippines for being one of the first countries to support their efforts to become a full-pledged member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 

“We are now working around the clock to fulfil – implement milestones and we feel confident that we could join a place between myself … We have established for ourselves, 2025 we should be ready to fully be member of the ASEAN,” he said. 

Timor-Leste joined the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia last May as an observer where President Marcos expressed the Philippine government’s continued support for its move towards becoming a full-pledged member of the regional bloc. 

Timor-Leste ranked as the Philippines’ 171st trading partner with total trade amounting to $164,000; the country’s 158th export market; and 194th import supplier. 

Currently, there are 11 signed agreements between the Philippines and Timor-Leste in terms of various cooperation such as economic and technical, higher education, and military, among others. | PND

Photo Courtesy of PCO