A ranking official from the Australian Embassy in Manila has underscored the “broad” and “deep” relationship between Manila and Canberra amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s suspension of loans from the latter.
The Philippine government has earlier suspended negotiations and agreements from 18 countries, including Australia, that voted in favor of a United Nations resolution that sought a review on the country’s human rights situation.
Clare Duffield, the Embassy’s political and public affairs counselor, refused to comment on the issue but pointed out that the two nations’ ties and cooperation cover a wide range of areas.
“Our Ambassador’s favorite words are ‘Our relationship is broad and deep.’ Because it is, it covers so many things from education, economics and trade,” she told reporters in an interview at the Australian Embassy in Makati.
“It really is a nice, broad relationship that is really genuinely based on some shared beliefs and shared values. Plus, commerce and trade, they operate no matter what’s going on because they’re looking for good business opportunities,” she added.
The diplomat also highlighted the people-to-people ties and the upcoming 75th anniversary of the two nations’ diplomatic relations in 2021.
“I have to say that Australia’s relationship with the Philippines, its formal diplomatic ties go back nearly 75 years and out of that time we’ve done so many different things together,” she said.
As the Philippines commemorates the 75th Leyte Gulf Landings, Duffield said Australia also has its shared role in the campaign for the liberation of the Philippines from the Imperial Japanese forces.
“We’re coming up to the 75th of the Leyte landings during World War II and what most people think of that is the American coming on their ships. The Australian Armed Forces were involved as well and a number of our ships and soldiers and sailors joined as well,” she narrated.
As the world settled in a relatively peaceful era, the diplomat said the two nations’ ties evolved as well.
“We’ve had this relationship for so long and it has changed over time. War is not the happy time but so we’re saying it forged our relationship. Over time, it really has grown and deepened,” she said.
“We’ve been in peacekeeping together. We help each other out in times of need, like the Typhoon Haiyan where Australia was ready to assist. But I think we think of ourselves as a good friend and a good neighbor.”
On a Sept. 24 briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he doesn’t see any “adverse effect” on the country’s overall bilateral ties with the concerned 18 states, including Australia, as one area of engagement is not the sum total of a relation. (PNA)