MALACAÑANG — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, March 7, officially welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad in a ceremony at the Malacañan Palace.
The Malaysian Prime Minister is in the Philippines for a two-day official visit.
On his way to Malacañang, the Malaysian Prime Minister was greeted by around 1,000 grade three and grade four elementary students from various schools in Manila. Upon arriving at the Palace Grounds, the Prime Minister was given full military honors with a 21-gun salute.
The two leaders watched the performance of Pangkat Kawayan and Sining Kumintang ng Batangas before proceeding to the Malacañang Reception Hall for the signing of the guest book.
Prior to the expanded bilateral meeting of the two leaders and their delegations, President Duterte and Prime Minister Mahathir had a private meeting, where they renewed and reaffirmed the valued relations of the Philippines and Malaysia, emphasizing that the established relationship “must continue to grow in strength” in the coming years.
In his opening statement, President Duterte underscored that “with the Philippines and Malaysia staying on track as part of the growth engines of Asia and the world, broadening our engagement across many fields will be crucial for the continued benefit of our nations and people.”
“I look forward to productive discussions on matters of mutual interest and concern. It is my hope that we will continue to open up new areas of cooperation (and) more meaningful partnership. I am keen to listen to and reflect upon the Prime Minister’s thoughts and development between the Philippines and Malaysia as well as in the region,” the President said to the Malaysian Prime Minister.
On his part, Prime Minister Mahathir expressed his gratitude to President Duterte and the Filipino people for a warm welcome.
In his statement, he emphasized the importance of “working together” in order to promote the objective of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), where the Philippines and Malaysia are founding members.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Mahathir praised President Duterte in his efforts in restoring peace in Mindanao through the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
“We are very gratified to be congratulating you on the peace that has been achieved in Southern Philippines,” the Prime Minister said.
“This is a country of 7,000 islands divided by the seas but it is still one nation. And I think the people of the Philippines deserve to have a good system of government that caters to the needs and visions of all its people,” he continued.
Prime Minister Mahathir’s two-day visit in the Philippines envisages better cooperation based on mutual interest, covering people-to-people ties, promotion of reciprocal tourism, enhancing health and education services, and protection and development of the welfare of the Filipinos and Malaysians.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and other members of the Duterte Cabinet were also in Malacañang to welcome the Malaysian delegation. ###PND