05 May 2015 - On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Turkey, Philippine Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito visited Turkey upon the invitation of Turkish Grand National Assembly Speaker (TürkiyeBüyük Millet Meclisi or TBMM) Cemil Cicek, from April 28 to 29. 

The delegation led by Senators Drilon and Ejercito included Director-General Antonio de Guzman, Office of International Relations and Protocol (OIRP) of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines, Atty. Renato Bantug, Jr., Chief of Staff of Senate President Drilon, Mr. Cesar de Chavez, Director for Protocol, OIRP, Atty. Sheryl Vargas, Chief of Staff, and Mr. Rodolfo Irasga, Political Officer, both from the Office of Senator Ejercito.

Mrs. Milagros Serrano Genuino-Drilon, Senate President Drilon’s spouse, also accompanied the Delegation. 

The Delegation was formally received by Speaker Cemil Cicek of the Turkish Grand National Assembly at the Parliament on April 28, where he and Senators Drilon and Ejercito had brief private discussions at the Speaker’s Office, followed by a Meeting between Delegations at an adjoining conference room.

At the Delegations’ meeting, Senate President Drilon and Speaker Cicek discussed the recent milestones in Philippines-Turkey relations, namely 1) the Official Visit by Prime Minister Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu of Turkey to the Philippines, a first by a Turkish Prime Minister, in November 2014; 2) Chairmanship by a Turkish diplomat, Ambassador Haydar Berk, of the Independent Decommissioning Body (ID); 3) the signing of the bilateral Air Services Agreement and the start of direct flights between Istanbul and Manila on March 30; 4) progress in several pending bilateral agreements in the fields of prevention of double taxation, defense, agriculture and tourism, among others; 5) the upcoming visit by AFP Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. John Bonafos to Turkey from May 13 to 16; 6) the upcoming Joint Economic Commission, 3rd Political Consultations and Official Visit of Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario to Turkey, all scheduled to be held within the year.

Speaker Cicek hosted the Philippine parliamentary delegation to lunch at the Official Residence of the Speaker of the TBMM in Çankaya, Ankara.

Senate President Drilon and Senate Minority Leader Ejercito and the Philippine Delegation were also received that day by Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinç, who welcomed the delegation on behalf of Prime Minister Davutoğlu, and by Mr. Mustafa Elitaş, who welcomed the delegation on behalf of the AkParti parliamentary majority (current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Party President).

Senator Drilon extended, on behalf of President Benigno S. Aquino III, warm felicitations to the Prime Minister, Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, who visited the Philippines in November 2014. 

The Deputy Member of Parliament from Trabzon, Turkey, Safiye Seymenoğlu, hosted a formal dinner reception for the Delegation at the Marble Room of the Parliament on the evening of the same day.  Joining her in welcoming the delegation were three other members of the Turkish Parliament, Abdülkadir Aksu, Deputy from Diyarbakir, Necati Çetinkaya, Deputy from Adana, and Fatoş Gütkan, Deputy from Adana.

The first parliamentary visit between Turkey and the Philippines helped strengthen bilateral relations and better understanding between the two peoples, coming at the conclusion of the year-long celebrations commemorating the 65th anniversary of Philippines-Turkey bilateral relations. With Turkish General Elections in June 07 and Philippine National Elections in May 2016, parliamentary leaders of both countries pledged to continue their exchanges.  Senator Drilon also invited the Turkish Parliament leaders to visit the Philippines. END