The recent reconstitution of the Philippines-Hungary Parliamentary Friendship Association is very much in line with concerted efforts of both the Philippines and Hungary to re-establish bilateral relations and explore greater avenues of cooperation. The Association’s renewed activity follows Hungary’s historic decision two years ago to once more open its Embassy in Manila after twenty-two years of absence.
Some areas of exchange that Zubiri is eyeing are agriculture, water management, education, tourism and culture, and even sports. The partnership has so far already been fruitful. In the area of education, for one, the Commission on Higher Education has partnered with Hungary’s Ministry of Human Capacities to open the Stipendium Hungarian Scholarship Program to Filipino students for the years 2018 to 2020. This program will provide scholarships to thirty-five students every year. In the area of trade, Hungary has opened a EUR 510 million credit facility for Philippine-Hungarian businesses, with a particular focus on water treatment, especially for post-disaster situations and agricultural modernization.
In his meetings with Deputy Speaker István Jakab and the Hungarian members of the Association–the Honorable Andrea Varga-Damm, Madame Zsuzsanna Gyurcsíkné Holop, and Chairman Zsolt Csenger-Zalan,–Zubiri made special note of thanking Hungary for voicing support for the Philippines at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“At a time when the European Union has been quite critical of some of our domestic policies, Hungary stood by us,” he said. “When other countries moved to adopt a UNHRC resolution mandating a comprehensive review of our Government’s program against the proliferation of illegal drugs, Hungary was the only country in Europe that voted against it.”