Philippines, Laos seek enhanced ties on health, education, trade

2023 May 10

MANILA – The Philippines and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) on Wednesday vowed to work closely to enhance the two countries’ relations across several areas such as health, education, trade and people-to-people exchange agreements, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

According to a news update issued by the Presidential Communications Office, strengthening the partnership between the two countries further was among the matters tackled during Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s bilateral meeting with newly appointed Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone at the 42nd ASEAN Summit plenary session in Indonesia.

Marcos said education can be an area that the two countries can promote “now that things are beginning to open up.”

Marcos said he was proud of the contributions made by around 2,000 Filipino nationals who are living and working in Lao PDR to its educational sector.

“There’s also an educational aspect and I think that we have the basis in our agreements and we can build upon that regard,” Marcos said.

The two countries, Marcos said, could also boost health cooperation, as he cited the Philippines’ robust healthcare system that was tested during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aside from tourism, Marcos said the two nations can also boost the professional exchanges in terms of work.

Long and fruitful relationship

Marcos said the Philippines and Laos “have had a very long and fruitful relationship.”

He said he looks forward to working with the Lao government, noting that “there’s much potential” now that both countries’ economies, as well as those in ASEAN and around region, have begun to “show signs of life after the pandemic.”

“We have always felt that this has been a relationship — that although this has been a long-standing one that we can further develop. We had a very good working relationship with your predecessor, and we certainly look forward to continuing that during your chairmanship for ASEAN in the next ASEAN sessions,” the Philippine leader said.

Siphadone, meanwhile, relayed an invitation for Marcos for a state visit to Lao PDR.

“I would like to extend an invitation from His Excellency Thongloun Sisoulith, President of the Laos PDR, to Your Excellency to make a state visit at a time of convenience for you,” Siphadone told Marcos.

In return, Marcos also extended an invitation to the Prime Minister and his President, Thongloun Sisoulith, to visit the Philippines.

He added the two nations can start to discuss trade in terms of investment on the possibility of the Lao officials’ state visit to the Philippines. 

Filane Mikee Cervantes (PNA)