MANILA Philippines — Trade investment and tourism ties are expected to be strengthened between Palau and southern Mindanao with the scheduled signing of a sister-city agreement between Koror and Davao City on March 16.

Roberto Teo assistant city administrator and chief of the Davao City Investment and Promotion Center; told the Journal the signing was scheduled during the annual Araw ng Dabaw (Davao Foundation Day) festivities which were scheduled for March 8 to 16.

“Basically it’s a cooperation [agreement] between Koror and Davao on health tourism and investments. In a resolution last year the Sangguniang Panlalawigan [City Council] authorized Mayor [Rodrigo] Duterte to sign the agreement.”

According to J. Anthony Reyes Philippine Consul to Palau; the sister-city agreement was suggested by Philippine ambassador to Palau Ramoncito Mariño; “who saw that the Asian Spirit flights will provide an opportunity for the two cities to contribute to each other’s economic trade and tourism growth.”

The sister-city agreement was to be signed just as Asian Spirit celebrates the first anniversary of its flight service between the two cities on April 2. Flights between Davao and Koror are currently three times a week. Plans are also in the works to open a Cebu City-Koror route before year-end. Cebu City is one of the major provinces in the Visayan region and is the most cosmopolitan urban city in the country after Manila.

According to Teo since the inaugural flight of Asian Spirit last year “basically Palauans came over for medical needs shopping and tours. [The flights] opened up the cooperation between both cities and governments as well as trade and commerce.”

For health services he said the Palauans are better off going to the privately-owned Davao Doctors Hospital which “is cheaper” than hospitals in Manila and on Palau.  Davao Doctors is known for its specialization in cardiology nephrology open and closed heart surgeries kidney transplants and hemodialysis among others. Its diagnostic equipment is said to be comparable to those found in Metro Manila and Cebu hospitals such as a 64-slice CT Scan and other high-technology modern diagnostics imaging facilities.

For his part Reyes said “Palau is expected to gain many benefits … Palau is dependent on imports for much of its food consumer and construction needs. Since Davao is the closest largest city to Koror [the latter] can source most of its requirements in the Philippines at a fraction of its current levels from the U.S. Taiwan and Australia.”

The agreement was to be signed by Davao City Mayor Duterte and Koror State Governor Yositaka Adachi. MBJ