Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace
23 May 2014

President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Raja (Grand Collar) to His Excellency Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia, during a state dinner in Malacañan Palace.

Raising his glass for a toast, President Aquino saluted the brotherhood that existed between the two countries tracing back to its Malay roots and the solidarity that existed, maintaining an amicable relationship, despite the issues surrounding the overlapping maritime boundaries on Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) between the Mindanao Sea and the Celebes Sea. Early on, the dispute has finally been resolved after 20 years of negotiations with the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of the Republic of Indonesia Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Boundary.

“This will serve as an important reminder of what can be achieved when parties come to the table with the sincere commitment to engage in a meaningful dialogue and uphold the rule of law. Your Excellency, the Filipino people are grateful for the sustained support your government and the people of Indonesia have shown for our peace process and security,” President Aquino said.

He also expressed his gratitude to President Yudhoyono and the Indonesian people for their immediate humanitarian assistance at the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

In return, the Indonesian President denounced the use of force in resolving border disputes.

“With strong determination, countries can resolve maritime disputes peacefully through negotiation. Hence, we reject the use of force to resolve and in handling border disputes,” President Yudhoyono said.

According to President Yudhoyono, the recently signed maritime treaty between the two countries exemplifies how border disputes should be resolved. The signed treaty, he said, will enhance the cooperation in maritime and ecotourism sectors while tackling transnational crimes.

The Indonesian President also mentioned other agreements forged by the two countries during the bilateral meeting such as identifying the government’s active role to facilitate and organize business-to-business meeting to chart a business roadmap in the future.

President Yudhoyono also lauded President Aquino for the impressive economic gains that surpassed and maintained its growth target by 6% in 2012 amid the worldwide economic downturn. According to him, it is just fitting for the Philippines to be designated by the international media as “Asia’s Bright Spot” and “Asia’s next economic tiger.” He also congratulated President Aquino for the recent success with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

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