THE GOVERNMENTS of India and the Philippines on Friday signed four agreements that will strengthen ties in maritime security, tourism, science and technology, and cultural cooperation.

“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path towards enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science, technology tourism and cultural cooperation,” President Rodrigo R. Duterte said in a joint press statement with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, aired over the Presidential Communications Facebook page.

Friday’s bilateral meeting saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Indian Navy of the Republic of India on Sharing of White Shipping Innovation.

The MoU seeks to enhance maritime security through sharing of information on non-military and non-government shipping vessels. It was signed by PCG Commandant Admiral Elson E. Hermogino and Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India.

“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, we affirm our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” he said.

“We agreed also to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats.”

An MoU on tourism cooperation was also signed between the Department of Tourism, represented by Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and India’s Ministry of Tourism through Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India.

Also signed were a program of Cooperation in the fields of Science and Technology for 2019-2022 and Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2019-2023.

The Philippines and India are both recognized for their information technology and business process outsourcing industries, which Mr Duterte said “encourages” another area for cooperation.

“This is a shared distinction that encourages us to cooperate more so that we can complement each other’s strengths,” Mr. Duterte said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan