President Rodrigo Duterte has committed to continue working closely with the government of Brunei to maintain the “excellent” bilateral and diplomatic relations between the two countries.
President Duterte made his statement during a state banquet hosted by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah at his official residence, Istana Nurul Iman, in honor of the visiting leader on the second day of his state visit here.
“Your sincere hospitality reaffirms the esteemed friendship that is always valued deeply by my people. We will continue to work closely to maintain the excellent ties between our nations and peoples,” Duterte said before a handful of crowd composed of the members of the Royal Family, the Philippine delegation, Brunei officials, and the diplomatic corps.
Both governments have agreed to deepen cooperation in various areas of development such as trade and investment, maritime security, achieving lasting peace in Mindanao and building a stronger Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) nations.
“We have explored and forged several undertakings that further cemented our special relations. This cooperation will continue to be reinforced for the mutual benefit of our nations,” he said.
“We have much to look forward to as we work together for greater peace, progress and prosperity,” he added.
Describing Brunei as a “true friend,” the President said the two nations should not just count on each other to achieve shared objectives but must continue “to view each other with the respect, mutual trust and confidence that have defined the Philippines-Brunei relations for the past 32 years.
“ The Chief Executive noted the “crucial role” played by Sultan Bolkiah in ensuring good relations between Brunei and the Philippines both at the policy and personal level.
He also thanked Brunei for the “timely assistance” it has been extending to the Philippines during times of calamities and disasters.
He also expressed his deepest and sincerest gratitude to the sultanate for the care and hospitality being given to an estimated 23,000 Filipinos residing and working in Brunei.
“Your Majesty, for these and for many more reasons, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude. With the deep well of goodwill between our nations and peoples, I reiterate the resolve and commitment to value, protect and nurture our special ties,” he said.
For his part, Sultan Bolkiah congratulated Duterte for winning the recent presidential elections.
He expressed confidence and full support to the President hoping that his successes and achievements as long-time mayor of Davao will be replicated throughout the entire Philippines and bring inclusive growth.
He also vowed to strengthen ties with the Philippines especially in areas that will foster economic cooperation such as the energy sector and the halal industries.
“Mr. President, we look forward to continuing our close people-to-people contact and deepening the warm and long-standing friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” he added.
He also reiterated Brunei’s commitment to achieving lasting peace in Mindanao, which he said would contribute to overall regional security.
Sultan Bolkiah also congratulated the President and expressed his full support for the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN next year.
“We wish you and your Government the very best in all your preparations. It is important that we strive to be politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible for the benefit of our peoples as outlined in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025,” he said.
He likewise committed to work closely with the Philippines with regard to the revival of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia- Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP -EAGA) initiative that was launched in 1994.
“Under BIMP-EAGA, we will also continue to work closely with you to see this sub-region grow and develop, including in nurturing our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, conserving the environment and enhancing connectivity through infrastructure development and tourism,” he said adding that both nations also look forward to continuing initiatives under the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
On Monday morning, the President received a red carpet welcome from Sultan Bolkiah at Istana Nurul Iman.
An official welcome ceremony was held with a 21-gun salute.
The President and his delegation were then ushered inside the presidential palace for the bilateral meeting.
President Duterte thanked Sultan Bolkiah for the warm welcome afforded to him and his entire delegation.
Duterte is set to depart on Tuesday for China for a four-day state visit. (PNA)