The Republic of the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam signed bilateral agreements aimed at promoting cooperation between the two countries in the fields of culture and the halal industry.
Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yan Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam witnessed the signing of the agreements during the latter’s State Visit in Malacañan Palace on Thursday, April 27. Sultan Bolkiah is also in the country to attend the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, which the Philippines is hosting this year.
Chairman Virgilio Almario, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, and Honorable Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, inked the agreement on cultural cooperation which aims to promote cooperation in the field of culture and arts by enhancing institutional networking and people to people exchanges.
It also intends to strengthen, promote and develop culture, arts and heritage cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Minister of Energy and Industry in the Prime Minister’s Office Pehin Dato Dr. Mohammed Yasmin Umar sealed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Halal Industry and Halal Export Development and Promotion.
The MOU aims to foster cooperation in the halal industry and halal products development, reduce technical barriers to trade, facilitate bilateral relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam particularly with respect to halal export development and promotion programs.
‘Meeting with Bolkiah, a success’
In a joint press statement, President Duterte said his meeting with His Majesty Sultan Bolkiah was a “success” just like his previous meeting with the leader during his State Visit in Brunei in October last year.
“We had productive discussions that show the commitment of both sides to further broaden and deepen cooperation on many fronts. These build on our earlier discussions and agreements made in Brunei,” he said.
“We recognized the importance of the ties that bind our nations and our peoples. With shared aspirations of achieving greater peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples, we agreed to further step up collaborative efforts to achieve common goals,” he added.
The President welcomed the intensified interactions and exchanges between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam saying that he and Sultan Bolkiah have agreed to utilize the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) to further deepen and expand cooperation between both countries.
Duterte said the two countries will focus on the campaign against terrorism, violent extremism and piracy at sea.
He also expressed his gratitude for Brunei Darussalam’s important role in the Mindanao Peace Process and for continuing support for efforts in achieving lasting peace in Mindanao.
The Chief Executive also welcomed Sultan Bolkiah’s strong support for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) saying that it could bring “inclusive development to areas that most need growth.”
He also thanked His Majesty for hosting the 23,000 Filipinos in Brunei.
As chairman of ASEAN this year, the President stressed the need for ASEAN members to work together to ensure that the principled position for the peaceful resolution of disputes will be articulated fully.
“This is a collective interest that must be upheld in the implementation of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and greater progress on the Framework of Code of Conduct in South China Sea,” he said.
Sultan Bolkiah expresses support to Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship
For his part, Sultan Bolkiah reaffirmed the two countries’ close and long-standing partnership in different areas of cooperation.
He hailed the signing of two agreements aimed at boosting cultural cooperation as well as economic partnership in the development of halal products and industry.
According to Sultan Bolkiah, they also agreed on energy cooperation which aims to enhance tie ups by exploring potential downstream and upstream activities.
The two leaders also agreed for future collaboration in addressing issues on drugs, believing that both sides will benefit from the exchanges of expertise and best practices.
He likewise expressed support for the BIMP-EAGA saying that he is confident that member countries will be able to achieve their common goals under the chairmanship of President Duterte.
“As envisioned for 2025, it is important for us to develop a resilient and competitive sub-region,” said Sultan Bolkiah.
Sultan Bolkiah also extended his full support for the Philippines ASEAN chairmanship adding that he looks forward to a successful year under President Duterte’s leadership.
“We will continue working closely particularly as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year. We will take this opportunity to reflect on our past achievements and share our views on the way forward for the future,” he said.
Sultan Bolkiah arrived in Malacañan Palace at 2:15 p.m. where he was given a formal welcome with full military honors.
He then proceeded to the President’s Hall for the signing of guest book. This was followed by an expanded bilateral meeting between the two leaders and their officials.
A state banquet was hosted by the President in honor of the visiting head of state at the Rizal Hall.
Before heading to Malacañan, Sultan Bolkiah went to Rizal Park in Manila and laid a wreath at the foot of the monument of Dr. Jose Rizal in honor of the country’s national hero.###PND