President Duterte leaves for Thailand, Malaysia

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte left on Tuesday for a brief visit to Thailand and a two-day official trip to Malaysia.

President Duterte departed on board Philippine Airlines Flight PR001 bound for Bangkok, to pay his last respects to the late Thai King Bhumidol Adulyadej whom he described as the Philippines’ ‘true friend.’

”He will be remembered for his dedicated efforts to foster good will and friendship between our nations and peoples. For all he has done to bridge peoples to greater understanding, he truly deserves a place in history,” the President said in his departure speech.

After his short stop in Bangkok, the President will proceed to Kuala Lumpur for his introductory visit, which is aimed to strengthen the Philippines and Malaysia ties for security and stability.

”Foremost on my agenda is maritime security and the fight against piracy at sea,” the President said.

In his talk with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, President Duterte said he would seek Malaysia’s greater cooperation in the war against illicit drug trade which “is a menace knows no boundaries.”

”Cooperation between our nations is vital in order to address this problem,” Duterte, whose own war on drugs has been gaining huge success, said.

”Bilateral defense, security and law enforcement efforts should be seen as supporting both our nations and our people that will contribute to greater stability in Southeast Asia and the larger region,” he added

President Duterte said he will also thank Malaysia for its important role in pursuing peace in Mindanao.

”In my talk with Prime Minister, I would seek Malaysia’s continued support for the peace process in southern Philippines.”

On economic cooperation, President Duterte said he will discuss on how to intensify a two-way trade and investment as well as support for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

”The two tracks of peace and prosperity have to be pursued to ensure that the developments that we aim will benefit all. I will also use the occasion to identify other opportunities for broader collaboration with Malaysia,” he said.

President Duterte said he will also seek Malaysia’s full support for the Philipines’ ASEAN chairmanship in 2017.

”I am hopeful that my visit will move further forward our common aspiration for our peoples, our nations and our region. As I have sworn to you before, my guiding principle in this and all engagements will be the protection of the national interest of our people,” the President said.

”We will be unflagging in our effort to pursue our independent foreign policy consistent with the provision of our Constitution and the mandate we post on the Office of the President,” he added.

The President’s first activity in Kuala Lumpur is a meeting with the Filipino community at 7:45pm on Wednesday at the Mandarin Hotel.

President Duterte had visited Laos, Indonesia, Brunei, Vietnam, China and Japan. Jelly Musico/