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Duterte returns from visits to Thailand, Malaysia

President Rodrigo Duterte arrived shortly before 4 a.m. Friday from his brief visit to Thailand and two-day official visit to Malaysia.

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In Thailand, he made a brief stopover in Bangkok to pay his final respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whom he called, in his arrival speech at the Davao City International Airport, “a true friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

“His Majesty will be remembered by his dedicated efforts to foster goodwill, mutual respect, and friendship between our nations and peoples,” Duterte said in his arrival speech at the Davao City International Airport.

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In Putrajaya, Malaysia, he met with with Prime Minister Rajib Razak, with whom he discussed, among other things, their common concern about securing the waters between their countries, where a there had been a recent series of kidnappings.

“Our discussion focused on the need to further strengthen the Philippines-Malaysia partnership for a safe and secure and stable region,” he said. “As ASEAN brothers and maritime nations, we recognize that cooperation between our countries with other stakeholders is key to ensure that our sealanes are not used for illegal purposes or criminal activities.”

He noted that earlier in the year his adminstration had made some headway in designing the framework of a trilateral agreement among Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to address maritime security issues in the region.

With Najib, in particular, he said he agreed to explore all options to cooperate to catch criminals operating in the waterways between Malaysia and the Philippines.

“The Philippines has always been, will be unremitting in the efforts to adress criminality on land, at sea, and between borders,” Duterte said.

They also agreed to sustain efforts to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao.

“As we proceed with the implementation phase of our peace process, Malaysia will continue to play an important role,” he said. “The Philippines is ready to work with Malaysia and all partners interested in securing for generations of the Mindanaoans and Filipinos a future free from fear and conflict.”

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Another main goal of his visit, he said was to attract Malaysian investors to the Philippines.

“My message to business leaders is clear: The Philippine is open for business,” he said. “And we will provide an environment that is conducive for industries to thrive.”

He said Malaysian business leaders expressed confidence in the many opportunities in the Philippines in areas like infrastructure, mass transportation, building of regional centers, joint ventures in agri-business, halal-certified products, and high-value post-processing facilities.

He has instructed the Department of Trade and Industry to follow through with his efforts, noting that Malaysia is the country’s 10th largest trading partner.

In another matter, he said that, as incoming chair of the ASEAN, he was counting on Malaysia for support to achieve a “rule-based and people-centered” ASEAN.

“My visit to Malaysia showed that there are more areas of mutual interest that will bring our countries closer and make us work for the achievement of common goals,” he said.

Finally, he recalled his meeting with members of the Filipino community, saying: “I was humbled by their warm welcome. I reassured them government will utilize all the resources at its disposal to make our country a safe and prosperous place for them to better appreciate and experience once they finally come home to reunite with their families.” /atm

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TAGS: ASEAN, Bhumibol Adulyadej, Duterte foreign policy, Najib Razak, Rodrigo Duterte
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