PDP-Laban to send 4-member delegation to North Korea
For the first time, the ruling party in the Philippines is sending an official mission to North Korea in what party officials describe as a “historic direct party-to-party contact” between Manila and Pyongyang.
The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), through its president, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, announced on Sunday that a four-member delegation would depart for the North Korean capital on Wednesday.
The three-day visit would a “historic starting point of a new dynamic relationship with the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK),” Pimentel said.
The two parties are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding “affirming their friendship and promoting greater understanding and more meaningful party-to-party talks in the future,” party leaders said.
The delegation is composed Lutgardo Barbo, PDP-Laban vice president for Visayas; Ronwald Munsayac, chair of the PDP-Laban public information committee; his vice chair, Raymundo Roquero, and Evan Rebadulla.
The PDP-Laban officials will fly first to Beijing on Tuesday and depart for Pyongyang on Wednesday for a series of meetings with WPK Central Committee officials from July 18 to 20.
The Philippines was one of the first countries in the Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) to have established diplomatic ties with North Korea when it was still ruled by Kim Jong-il, the father of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, chair of the WPK.
According to Pimentel, the PDP-Laban trip was arranged a year ago after months of correspondence between WPK vice chair and head of the international department Ri Su Yong and Raul Lambino, PDP-Laban vice president for international affairs.
“This is strictly a party-to-party diplomacy,” Lambino said in a statement.
“The invitation was extended to us months ago, and we feel that this visit could not have come at a better time,” said the former lawyer of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Last year, Lambino was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as presidential adviser for Northern Luzon in concurrent capacity as administrator and CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.
“We are hoping that this ground-breaking initiative will open new doors for further talks, and new opportunities for a more meaningful relationship between our two peoples,” he said.
The highlight of the visit, Lambino said, would be the signing of the memorandum of understanding.
Both parties expressed in their previous correspondence a “mutual desire for a wider, stronger and sustained relationship as we face new realities in East Asia and Southeast Asia,” Lambino said.
He said PDP-Laban “is elated by the enthusiasm shown by the Workers’ Party of Korea to our visit.” /atm
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