MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said his recent State Visits to Brunei Darussalam and the People’s Republic of China have strengthened the Philippines’ economic and diplomatic ties with both countries and have opened doors for more meaningful engagements as they discussed ways to deepen their bilateral relations and explored other areas of undertakings .
In his arrival message at the Davao International Airport upon returning from his trips to Brunei Darussalam and People’s Republic of China, the President said a clear focus was directed more on economic cooperation and partnership to benefit the people of the Philippines.
In his statement, the President has expressed his gratitude to Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei for expressing his willingness to work in partnership with the Duterte administration’s quest for lasting peace in Mindanao.
“We secured Brunei’s commitment to help develop Mindanao halal industry, especially in certification and in capacity-building. Brunei and Mindanao can be twin hubs for the production and export of halal-certified products, “ he said.
At the same time, Duterte said he and Bolkiah agreed to intensify trade and investments and work closely to further bolster the role of the BIMP-EAGA in growing our economies.
“We also agreed to address connectivity issues through increased air and sea linkages to facilitate trade and commerce,” he said.
Both leaders agreed to fully cooperate to combat the illegal drugs trade and collaborate on maritime and defense issues, particularly in addressing transnational crimes, piracy and crimes at sea, and to immediately work together to transform these agenda into specific plans and actions.
Meanwhile, in all his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the President disclosed that he discussed with the Chinese leader a full range of Chinese-Philippine relations, from trade and investments, to infrastructure and tourism, and to science and technology and health.
“To realize the vision of a deeper and more meaningful engagement, we have opened formal lines of communications between our government and agreed on the full resumption of the regular bilateral consultations mechanisms which were put on hold for several years,” he said.
Duterte said the Philippines and China affirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace.
“We acknowledged the need to address disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law. We also agreed to continue discussions on confidence-building measures, including a bilateral consultation mechanism to discuss immediate issues of concern in South China Sea,” he added.
With regard to the government’s efforts to address the drug menace, the President said both countries agreed to continue to work on capacity building measures, equipment upgrading and support for rehabilitation purposes.
“With the shared objective of achieving greater growth and prosperity for our peoples, the Philippines and China jointly worked closely on building a robust economic agenda,” he said.
Duterte announced that the Philippines has also signed 13 agreements with the Chinese government, mostly economic in nature. This, he said, will provide the framework with which to carry out intensified cooperation between the two countries, thus renewing optimism in their trade relations.
He said his efforts to rekindle friendship with China has yielded in China’s commitment in public financing agreements and private business deals valued at 24 billion US dollars in soft loans, a move which he described to have enhanced the trade and investments between the two countries.
These agreements, covering various fields of economic activities, are expected to generate 2 million jobs for the Filipinos in the next five years, he said.
“Your government will continue to work very hard to ensure that these agreements bear concrete results that will better the lives of our people. We shall also make sure that the credit facility and the soft loans will solely be utilized in public financing that benefits all Filipinos,” he said.
The President stressed that his State Visit to China signaled a turning point in the shared history of both countries showing their capability to work together for mutual beneficial cooperation while maintaining a commitment to settle disputes peacefully, in adherence of international law.
“In every step that took the Philippines and China relations further forward, I was guided by my bounden duty to protect the sovereignty of our nation and the interests of our people,” Duterte said.
The President vowed to pursue the nation’s best interests in all his engagements abroad, consistent with his thrust for independent foreign policy anchored on the basic tenets of sovereignty, non-interference and mutual respect.
He said the Duterte administration will harness foreign relations, while instituting reforms in the country for its inclusive growth and sustainable development so that working abroad becomes an option and no longer a need for the Filipino people. PNA-northboundasia.com