India’s skills training for Filipinos, bureaucrats proceeds amid ‘Covid’

Ambasador Shambhu Kumaran (front row, seventh from right), with ITEC enrollees

THE Republic of India will continue to offer training and skills-development courses this year for Filipino civilians, as well as public and defense officials.

There are more than 1,100 Filipinos who enlisted in the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC), a development diplomacy initiative of India. Scholars from the Philippines enrolled in short- and long-term courses, which include information technology, rural development, parliamentary practices, entrepreneurship, renewable energy, health care, as well as marine and aeronautical engineering, among others. (Related story: ITEC Day highlights growing ties between PHL, India in training, skills development—BusinessMirror, April 9, 2022.)

In his speech during the ITEC Day reception in Taguig City on March 29, Ambassador of India Shambhu Kumaran confirmed that “the Philippines is an important ITEC partner.”

“Government departments and other public institutions in the Philippines are free to choose their personnel and courses…relevant for their development needs,” Kumaran pointed out. “The program is fully funded by the government of India.”

This year India has offered 50 slots for defense officials from the Philippines—the highest number in Southeast Asia. This is aside from the fact that the said officials are currently enrolled in flagship defense-training programs in each other’s country. These cover fields like security and strategic studies, defense management, as well as logistics and management, among others.

“In light of the volatility of our domestic and internal security environments, our mutual training and capacity-building cooperation are truly vital in ensuring that both our defense forces are capable [of responding] to any security threat, and other exigencies under all circumstances,” said Commodore Donn Anthony Miraflor, Armed Forces of the Philippines’s (AFP) deputy chief of staff for education, training and doctrine. “After all, peace and progress [are the concerns] of every nation, across all regions.”

In February, 33 Philippine government officials also attended a three-week customized course on leadership and good governance for sustainable development. Popular e-ITEC courses in the country are Digital Documentation of Cultural Heritage, Disaster Management (Floods and Droughts), and Environment Impact Assessment.

Prior to the pandemic, participants traveled to India to attend training programs and obtain hands-on experiences on the courses they enrolled in. During the public health crisis, 120 Filipino bureaucrats joined as ITEC shifted to digital learning through e-ITEC courses.

Aside from the Philippines, ITEC is also in 160 countries from Asia, Africa, East Europe, Latin America, Caribbean, and the Pacific, including island-countries.

‘Energized’ partnership

MEANWHILE, a bilateral meeting between Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and his Indian counterpart, Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is in the works “later this month,” the Indian Embassy in Manila disclosed.

Kumaran said Locsin is expected to visit India to follow up on the discussions he had when Jaishankar went to Manila in February. Security, defense, as well as regional and global issues were among the topics covered.

According to the Indian envoy, among the agenda of the visit is the creation of a “legal framework” for the further expansion of linkages between New Delhi and Manila.

Locsin’s supposed India trip would come on the heels of his bilateral meetings with his counterparts this month, including foreign ministers Wang Yi of China and Hayashi Yoshimasa of Japan on April 9.

Kumaran admitted that India’s engagement with the Philippines is “not as well-developed and multifaceted,” compared to the former’s partnership with other countries in Southeast Asia.

But thanks to growing trade relations, interactions between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Duterte, and the latter’s independent foreign policy, the envoy said the two nations have managed to bring a degree of energy into their ties.

“With…recent developments in the Indo-Pacific—in particular, the complications around relationships with rising new powers and the smaller [Southeast Asian] nations—there’s definitely…an interest in India and in [its] approach; and reciprocally for India, the Asean and Philippines have been [places] of considerable interest,” he added.

For Kumaran, some areas the two nations could further work on are in vaccine production, business-process outsourcing, and financial technology.

He said the two nations are also trying to develop cooperation on defense and security, particularly on counterterrorism.

“Space-based applications, [including] new technologies that help both in terms of development and national security: These could all be potentially very, very important drivers for this relationship in the future,” the Indian diplomat confirmed.

In January the Philippines also formally signed the P18.9-billion contract for the Indian-made Brahmos medium ramjet supersonic cruise missile system, which is programmed for the Navy’s shore-based anti-ship missile system.

While talks are “still at an early stage,” the envoy also sees potential in terms of naval platforms and systems.

“I don’t think anything is mature enough to be able to get to a contract, but surely the conversations are ongoing,” Kumaran confirmed. “We just had a joint defense committee meeting in India last month, and I think the discussions were very positive.”

During the said meeting, Filipino authorities have outlined Manila’s needs under the AFP modernization program, requirements Kumaran believes his country has the capacity to meet.

“[We’re] willing to do far deeper and more sustainable cooperation, which involves a lot of military-to-military engagements to support capability acquisition—not just purely in terms of buy-and-sell, but also…of working together military-to-military, trying to develop the capability in the true sense through training, extensive maintenance support, and clearly establishing ourselves as a serious player in the defense business,” he explained.

In the same forum, the ambassador underscored the need for New Delhi and Manila to work together, as he cited the fact that both nations are committed to the rules-based order. “Both,” Kumaran averred, “have experienced, if you will, similar challenges to our sovereignty and territorial integrity—inland, or in the maritime domain.”

“Clearly, we need to work together to try and bolster each other’s capabilities,” he said. “We need to exchange more information with each other, and work together wherever possible.” With a report from Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA

Image credits: Indian Embassy


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article

French ambassador, Hidilyn Diaz launch global relay toward Paris 2024 Olympics

Next Article

Egypt’s hunt for wheat gains urgency as stockpiles shrink

Related Posts

Austria, DICT, UP-NISMED, EURAXESS ASEAN launch PHL’s first ‘Women in STEAM’ summit

SEEKING to inspire and encourage more women to break barriers as they take the path toward “STEAM” learning and careers, the Austrian Embassy in Manila, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), University of the Philippines-National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (UP-NISMED) as well as EURAXESS ASEAN successfully staged the “Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics” summit on March 8.