Posted on July 02, 2013

Philippine foreign policy is based on the advancement of its ideals and values, which include the advancement of democracy and advocacy for human rights worldwide. Deputy Minister Del Rosario described three pillars of Philippine foreign policy: to promote their national security, to enhance their economic diplomacy and to offer assistance to its nationals.

Deputy Minister Del Rosario described South Africa as a country which ‘offers possibilities to mankind and also offers hope to the world’ – even after its past human rights injustices. She said South Africa is one country which can be judged by its core values: freedom and equality.

Deputy Minister Del Rosario further commented on the similar political history between South Africa and the Philippines, with the latter colonised before attaining political independence.

“South Africa and the Philippines are alike; that is why we will bring more business people here to invest. We also hope for more political exchanges between the leaders of our two countries. In a way, we came from the same womb – we advocate freedom and the development of our citizens,” she added.

South Africa and the Philippines established diplomatic relations in 1993. South Africa is the Philippines’ largest trading partner in Africa.

While the Philippines have experienced difficult periods under previous leaders, its newly acquired freedom follows a new paradigm: the rule of law. “Freedom is not just freedom. We also have to think about the rule of law. We realised that in our search for economic and political freedom that we were not able to contain corruption,” she said.

In terms of investment the Philippines is experiencing growth rates second only to those in China, but still needs to strengthen its policies on investment and diplomatic relations, specifically how much investment a particular country can contribute while avoiding undue influence on Philippine politics.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we limited our ties with the United States of America in 1992 because of their imposition on our foreign policy. We are now balancing ourselves with other Asian countries like India and Japan. We are also looking at countries like South Africa, which have similar values to ours,” said Deputy Minister Del Rosario.

According to Deputy Minister Del Rosario, the Philippines as a developing country should focus more on its education, specifically on innovation and technology. “With a functional literacy level of 94 per cent, our education system has to be improved by focusing more on science and technology. If we don’t do that we will be left behind,”

She acknowledged her country’s limited presence in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which is advocating more embassies on the African continent. The Philippines currently has embassies in South Africa, Nigeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Mozambique.

Prof Cheryl de la Rey, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria, said that among the increasing number of undergraduates and postgraduates enrolling at the University of Pretoria, a small number of students came from the Philippines. One of the students is a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Education focusing on Education Policy.

Prof De la Rey further commented that the University of Pretoria is focusing on internalisation – not only by increasing diversity at the institution, but also ensuring that future generations of professionals and leaders in this country are well equipped to achieve the vision of former President Nelson Mandela – which is to devote ourselves to ensuring that this beautiful country will never again experience the oppression of one race by another.

“Internalisation and learning from the experiences of other countries which had gone through similar experiences to our own here in South Africa is a very important objective to the University of Pretoria. For that reason, we are honoured to be afforded an opportunity to engage with the Philippines government through its embassy, regarding its foreign policy toward South Africa,” said Prof De la Rey.

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