Phnom Penh (FN), Jul. 8 – Cambodian Senate President, Samdech Techo Hun Sen affirmed Cambodia's commitment to safeguarding the interests of the Filipino community working and living in Cambodia.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen received a courtesy call by Flerida Ann Camille P. Mayo, the Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia, on Monday morning (Jul. 8) at the Senate.

The President of the Senate warmly welcomed and congratulated the newly-appointed Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia. He expressed confidence that the ambassador will continue her mission to strengthen Cambodia-Philippines relations and existing cooperation, especially within the ASEAN framework, contributing to peacekeeping and addressing regional challenges.

Regarding cybercrime, online fraud, and human trafficking, Samdech Techo supported the effective collaboration between the competent authorities of the two countries to crack down on cybercriminals who operate across ASEAN countries and tarnish the reputations of Cambodia and the Philippines. He also reiterated Cambodia's commitment to safeguarding the interests of the Filipino community working and living in Cambodia.

On this occasion, the Philippine ambassador thanked Samdech Techo and considered it a great honor to have the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on Samdech Techo after presenting her credentials to the Cambodian king. She also conveyed regards and congratulation from the Philippine President of the Senate to Samdech Techo on his recent election as Cambodian Senate President.

The ambassador praised the strengthening Cambodia-Philippines relations, marked by key meetings: Samdech Techo and President Marcos in 2022, Samdech Thipadei Hun Manet and President Marcos in Jakarta in 2023, and their recent meeting in Melbourne in 2024.

Ambassador Flerida added that Cambodia and the Philippines have held four meetings of the Bilateral Cooperation Commission over the past 14 years. This year, the Philippines will host the commission meeting in Manila to review and redefine action plans and priority areas for cooperation.

The ambassador informed Samdech Techo that during her diplomatic mission in Cambodia, she will work to expand cooperation in trade, investment, education, health, and military relations. She noted that Filipino companies are currently operating in Cambodia in the health, education, and food processing industries, and Filipino investors are seeking opportunities and partners to invest more in construction, food and beverage, food processing and manufacturing, retail, and education sectors.

Flerida also informed Samdech Techo that the Philippines is ready to cooperate with Cambodia to establish a Joint High Commission to Combat Cybercrime, Online Fraud, and Human Trafficking, which are common concerns for both countries. She thanked the Cambodian government for its support and protection of Filipinos working and living in Cambodia without discrimination. Additionally, she urged Samdech Techo to continue supporting and caring for the Filipino community, many of whom are English teachers, company staff, and religious workers who have been living and working in Cambodia.

For his part, Samdech Techo praised the achievements of the cooperation between Cambodia and the Philippines, which are based on mutual trust. Samdech Techo is proud to have contributed to the growing and strong friendship between the two countries by working closely with the President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, most of whom have been his friends since the efforts to find a political solution for Cambodia, particularly during JIM-1 and JIM-2 (Jakarta Informal Meetings). He added that bilateral relations between Cambodia and the Philippines will be further strengthened under the leadership of Samdech Thipadei.

The Senate President noted that despite changes in the Royal Government of Cambodia, the country's foreign policy, especially its relations with the Philippines, remains unchanged.

Samdech Techo mentioned that both countries have many potentials to explore together for mutual benefit and development. He expressed satisfaction with the bilateral trade in which the Philippines imported Cambodian rice in the past.

Samdech welcomed the investment of Philippine companies in Cambodia and advised that the Philippines should examine and seize investment opportunities in Cambodia, especially in the field of rice production. Philippine investors can come to Cambodia to invest 100% in procurement mechanisms such as rice mills, packaging, storage, and exporting rice to the Philippines and other countries.

Samdech pointed out that Cambodia and the Philippines must draw on the economic potential of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the world faces a complex and dangerous crisis. He noted that despite the COVID19 outbreak, trade relations between ASEAN countries within the framework of AFTA have grown significantly, especially in the areas of food security and energy.

At the same time, Samdech Techo also asked the Ambassador to strive for more direct flights from the Philippines to Cambodia, which is an important factor in people-to-people ties, promoting tourism between the two countries, and facilitating the travel of investors and Philippine diplomats.

Both sides also exchanged views on three international issues, particularly the conflict in the ASEAN region, including the ongoing and serious crisis in Myanmar and the South China Sea dispute. Regarding the South China Sea dispute, Samdech Techo welcomed the dialogue that the Philippines is having with China as well as with related countries such as Viet Nam, aiming to ease tensions and find a specific solution to the situation in the South China Sea.

Samdech Techo also stressed that in order to reach a final solution:

First, concerned parties in the South China Sea must adhere to and strictly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed in Phnom Penh in 2002.

Second, concerned parties in the South China Sea should mediate to avoid any conflict and engage in constructive discussions to prevent regional tensions.

Third, the role of ASEAN and the concerned parties should be promoted in negotiating to achieve the Code of Conduct (COC) as soon as possible.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen mentioned that if the COC is achieved, it will reduce tensions, build mutual trust among countries in the region, and make the South China Sea an important channel for cross-border trade both regionally and internationally.

The Philippine ambassador informed Samdech Techo that during her more than 42 years working in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, she has been monitoring Cambodia's development and has always admired Samdech Techo's sincere love for the ASEAN community. She added that Samdech Techo is a guiding force for ASEAN and has greatly contributed to its development. She thanked Samdech for allowing her to pay a courtesy call and gain new insights.

Lastly, the Senate President asked the ambassador to convey his greetings to the President of the Senate and the President of the Philippines. He also wished the ambassador and her delegation good health and prosperity during their stay and mission in Cambodia.