MALACAÑANG — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, March 7, during the state banquet at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang, acknowledged Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad as “friend, partner, and brother.”
“I believe there is no better time than now to acknowledge him as a friend, partner, and brother,” President Duterte said while giving a toast to the Prime Minister and Malaysia.
President Duterte shared these remarks when he underscored the values and aspirations of the Philippines and Malaysia as both countries continue to work together in a broader arena to stand together on many issues of common concern.
The Chief Executive noted that the Prime Minister returned to the country with a profound understanding and deep appreciation of the ties that bind the Philippines and Malaysia, adding that the Prime Minister shares the conviction that realizing the promise of Mindanao is crucial for all stakeholders in the region.
The President recalled Prime Minister Mahathir’s visit to Davao in 1994 when Mahathir and former President Fidel Ramos inaugurated the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
“For us Mindanaoans, it was a demonstration of confidence in the potentials of Mindanao and a bold investment for greater progress and prosperity for the region,” the President said.
“But, in order to achieve lasting peace and growth, the Philippines needed to succeed in securing lasting stability in Mindanao. Prime Minister Mahathir provided vital support in this aspect, with Malaysia becoming a facilitator in the peace process,” he added.
According to President Duterte, the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law signals the culmination of the years of painstaking efforts by many stakeholders within our own country and by our friends in the international community, especially Malaysia.
“Certainly, there are still many challenges ahead. But positive transformation would not continue to happen had [the] wheels not been pushed and made to run back then. And in this, the Prime Minister has been a key figure,” he said.
The Commander-in-Chief also said that the official visit of the Malaysian Prime Minister has been a time for us to write a new chapter of friendship, amity, and cooperation.
In response to President Duterte’s remarks, Prime Minister Mahathir recapped the “very high level of friendship” of Malaysia and the Philippines and that both countries were able and have always been able to overcome misunderstandings and conflicts.
“Malaysia expects to be friendly with the Philippines all the time and also we expect that we can extend any help that we may be able to extend to resolve some of the problems faced in the south of the Philippines island — in Mindanao,” Prime Minister Mahathir said.
“So it is important that we become very concerned and we will be ready to be of help in solving this problem if it is within our means,” he added.
The Malaysian Prime Minister also thanked President Duterte and the Philippine Government for inviting him to visit the country and paving stronger relations between the two ASEAN member-states.
“We have covered many different areas. And we think that on the basis of this discussion, we can enhance the relationship between our two countries and we can benefit the growth of both countries,” he said. ### PND