SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob witnessed the signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between Singapore and the Philippines on Monday (Sep 9), covering a range of fields from education to infrastructure development.
The signing at Malacanang Palace in Manila, also witnessed by Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, was part of President Halimah's five-day state visit to the Philippines.
The visit commemorates the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
One of the MOUs will enable education professionals from the Philippines to attend a programme on teaching and learning STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), funded by a S$640,000 grant from Temasek Foundation.
"Science and technology education has been one of the key priorities of (the Philippines') DepEd to promote interest in students to consider careers in the sciences of engineering," according to materials in a press statement from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
"This programme will catalyse new ideas for education leaders and teachers to develop new curriculum, and for the teaching and learning of science and technology in science high schools in the Philippines."
Another MOU, signed by Singapore's PUB and the Philippines' Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, will involve collaboration in areas of water management, technology exchange and capacity training for the next three years.
"Both parties will exchange knowledge in water resource master-planning and management, share technologies for water supply and sanitation operations, and enhance capacity development via training programmes for water professionals at the Singapore Water Academy," according to the press statement.
Singapore also signed its first data protection-related MOU with a Data Protection Authority in ASEAN on Monday.
The MOU, which was signed by the Personal Data Protection Commission here and Philippines' National Privacy Commission, sets out how both sides will cooperate on and commit to mutual exchange of information and assistance in joint investigations, development of compatible mechanisms to facilitate cross-border data flows and exploring the use of sandboxes to test innovative data-sharing ideas.
"EXCELLENT, LONG-STANDING FRIENDSHIP"
During their bilateral meeting earlier, Mdm Halimah and Mr Duterte reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing friendship between the two countries.
"They took stock of bilateral cooperation and agreed there was potential to build even deeper economic and people-to-people links, including through upgrading the bilateral Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement and expanding the bilateral Air Transport Agreement," said MFA in a press statement.
They also emphasised the importance of regional counter-terrorism cooperation, including by building more cohesive societies through interfaith dialogue.
The leaders discussed international and regional developments, and reaffirmed the importance of regional economic integration and ASEAN unity, said the ministry.
In the evening, Mdm Halimah was hosted to a state banquet.
On Tuesday, she will visit Singaporium, a lifestyle and food pop-up organised by Enterprise Singapore which features Singapore companies.
Mdm Halimah will also speak at the 14th Philippines-Singapore business council meeting before travelling to Davao City, where she will be hosted to dinner by mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.