MANILA, Philippines—The Sultan of Brunei is set to visit Manila next week, his first visit to the country under President Benigno Aquino III’s presidency, which is seen to boost longstanding ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors.
According to a Department of Foreign Affairs statement issued late Monday, the Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah will be in the country from April 15 to 16 to deepen bilateral ties between Manila and Bandar Seri Begawan.
The visit reciprocates President Benigno Aquino III’s state visit to Brunei in June 2011, when the chief executive met with officials, local businessmen and members of the 21,000-strong Filipino community there.
Bolkiah visits the Philippines just weeks before Brunei’s hosting of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nation’s (Asean) Summit meetings.
“During the State Visit, the President and the Sultan will discuss, among others, Brunei’s chairmanship of the ASEAN as well as the strengthening of Philippines-Brunei bilateral relations,” said the DFA in a statement.
Brunei is a close Philippine partner, actively involved in the Mindanao peace process through membership in the International Monitoring Team.
Bolkiah is also known to have supported development projects for Mindanao communities.
The DFA did not say whether the two leaders would have the opportunity to discuss common interests in the West Philippine Sea, where both the Philippines and Brunei have partial claims to potentially resource-rich territories.
Just last week, Philippine and Brunei officials met in Bandar Seri Begawan for the 2nd Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC).
During the meeting, officials discussed potential areas for further cooperation, including defense, agriculture, energy, trade and investments, business process outsourcing, education, labor, and health, said the DFA.
The two sides also looked at the possibility of employing Filipino medical professionals in Brunei.
Bolkiah last visited the Philippines in 2009.