Foreign Affairs Secretary
Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.
for the luncheon in honor of
His Excellency Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India
14 February 2022, Conrad Hotel
Your Excellency, Minister Jaishankar;
Members of the Philippine and Indian delegations,
I express my appreciation to Dr. Jaishankar for honoring us with a visit to the Philippines and for the productive and insightful discussions in our meeting earlier.
I am pleased that we can meet face-to-face even in the lightening shadow of the pandemic. This is a welcome development. To borrow from Paul, “Once we saw as through a glass darkly; but now clearly, face to face.”
And soon more frequently with less risk and more ease. We shall exchange more visits and engage more expansively in dialogue essential to better steer the direction of our bilateral relations.
Our countries are nearing a milestone — the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2024. A good reason to keep up the momentum of our engagements.
At the heart of our relationship are the historical, cultural, and personal ties between our peoples. For centuries, we traded even more then than now. And while it may be myth that we shared an imperium or far-flung alliance, the story expresses an affinity that has defied distance.
Then briefly it was a reality under different flags. My ambassador is proof of that. I visited his father at an intensive care unit on the night of the Plaza Miranda Bombing in 1971. I missed the engagement in which we had been honored with prominent places on a stage — in the direct line of terrorist attack. It was the end times of democracy here.
Gandhi is as much a hero here as among his mighty people. We honored him by repeating his achievements in reverse: in 1986 by a funeral that American pundits flung in the assassins’ faces by calling the two-million strong funeral of Ninoy Aquino “the greatest since Gandhi’s”.
Then we reenacted after our hero’s death what Gandhi and the Indian people had achieved for independence: through peaceful people power revolution whose 51st anniversary we celebrate this week in the place where it began: in the hearts of the brave women and men. We did it for democracy.
Gandhi said, “With every true friendship, we build more firmly the foundations on which the peace of the whole world rests.” Friendship is the only basis of genuine cooperation. It doesn’t guarantee success because outcomes are seldom under our control. But it ensures we have each other’s back regardless.
That constant comfort is better than elusive success. India has been our partner in promoting peace and security in the region, as well as in advocating the rule of law in the face of armed ambition and the anarchy that follows it.
As maritime countries, the Philippines and India, both at the crossroads of the busiest sea lanes in the world, know the critical role of the rule of law in maintaining stability on the water — that most unstable element yet so vital to the life and thriving of nations.
We have so much more to do in maritime cooperation; as much bilaterally as regionally in the context of ASEAN; more broadly still throughout the Indo-Pacific.
Excellency, it is an honor to welcome you on your first visit to our country. We may see each other in Paris next week. In the little free time you have, I hope you and your delegation enjoy the rest of your visit. Thank you deeply for the honor. ###