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Marcos Jr. eyes stronger maritime ties with India

MANILA, Philippines —  The Philippines is seeking stronger maritime security cooperation with India to ensure the safety of seafarers from both nations as the world’s oceans are becoming more dangerous for commercial shipping, President Marcos said.

During a courtesy call of Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at Malacañang on Tuesday, Marcos stressed the importance of working together on maritime security amid concerns in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

“That kind of partnership, we have just rationalized our – the system, the local system for the support of our local seafarers because before, it has been a little bit haphazard, but now I think we have – we made some sense of it and I think we will be going to be a little bit to a great advantage,” Marcos told Jaishankar.

“Which means we’re ready to join up and if there are opportunities for us to work together. It really is at a crisis point of shipping. And maybe we can find something that we can do together to ease the situation at least a little bit until it becomes – the conflict becomes less heated,” he said.

While India and the Philippines are non-traditional partners in terms of maritime issues, Marcos said “it serves a purpose for us to start thinking about that, because the world is like that already, very closely connected.”

Marcos highlighted the important contribution of Filipino seafarers manning the world’s merchant ships, whether tankers, cruise ships or other vessels.

Agreeing with Marcos, the Indian official said the two countries should start looking for where they can do more to work together.

In a separate meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo on Tuesday, Jaishankar emphasized India’s readiness to build on its existing maritime partnerships with the Philippines.

Manalo said Manila hopes to collaborate with New Delhi in ensuring the safety of Indian and Filipino seafarers, especially those in merchant vessels plying the Red Sea.

Meanwhile, Marcos also expressed his appreciation to the Indian Navy for rescuing and providing assistance to the Filipino crew of MV True Confidence that was attacked by Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden