23 March 2017

PRRD meets FilCom in Thailand: ‘Upholding the greatest good for the region’
BANGKOK, THAILAND – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte marched to a cheering, flag-waving crowd of Filipino supporters in the Kingdom of Thailand on Wednesday, March 22 at the Royal Thai Navy Hall Headquarters.

The meeting with the more than 1,600-strong Filipino community who came from the different provinces across Thailand was organized by the Philippine embassy, in coordination with different organizations of Filipinos, including Partners for Change and the Fil-Thai Cultural Friendship Group, which prepared the evening’s program before the arrival of the President and his entourage.

Quoting himself during the campaign, the President who prefers being called Mayor said, “‘Why am I here?’ I said, ‘Because I love my country.’”

He quickly launched a brief narrative tour of the history of Mindanao, the land of promise, which he said turned instead to a land of conflict as the locals persisted in resisting the colonizers.

On a particular note, President Duterte explained that he made the ASEAN-wide visits to get inputs as the Philippines prepares for the leadership of the ASEAN summit this year.

The speech interspersed with humorous anecdotes and statements, his war on drugs, among others, was interrupted several times by cheering and applause from the audience.

Joining him on stage included Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Legal Presidential Adviser Counsel Salvador Panelo, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Senator Tito Sotto, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, Presidential Adviser on Business Ramon ‘RJ’ Jacinto, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, Executive Director Arnel del Barrio of the Philippine Carabao Center, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon.

Earlier, the President Duterte met with Thai business representatives to enhance trade and business relations by seeking trade balance with Thailand.

The reason for all efforts

One of the highlights of the two-day visit to Thailand was the toast celebrated between the two countries at the Government House.

The Philippine president, thankful for the warm reception and a deepening of ties with the host said, “With 67 years of diplomatic relations behind us, we can only achieve so much and more. We certainly can achieve more than what we can really see and envision,” Duterte said.

“While there continue to be many challenges, we cannot waver in our resolve. We should always remember that the reason for all of these efforts is the improvement of our people’s lives and the upholding of the greatest good for our region,” he added. ### PCO-Content

President Duterte trumpets ‘fruitful, productive’ visits to Myanmar, Thailand
President Rodrigo Duterte returned to the country on Thursday, March 23, after his successful back-to-back official visits to Myanmar and Thailand where the Chief Executive spoke with his counterparts on efforts to reinvigorate the Philippines’ trade and security relations with the two Southeast Asian nations.

In his speech upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, Duterte said the visits have brought “a renewed sense of optimism for the future of our relations with two of our important friends in the region and our brothers in ASEAN”.

Duterte said in both visits, the South China Sea issue was discussed. “We stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region. We underscored respect for freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the interest of all countries [within] and outside the region,” he said.

“We emphasized the need for the full [and] effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and expressed determination to complete the Framework of the Code of Conduct in 2017,” he explained.

Duterte said he had fruitful and productive discussions with Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw on expanding bilateral cooperation, intensifying two-way trade and investments and sustaining growth for the two countries.

“With many growing Philippine companies seeking new markets in our region and in Myanmar, I emphasized the value of economic partnerships between the private sectors in ASEAN countries,” he said.

Likewise tackled was the need for law enforcement collaboration to address terrorism, extremism, piracy and drug trafficking.

Duterte added that both sides recognized the importance of food security which led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Food Security and Agricultural Cooperation.

President Duterte also met with First State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and Defense Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing where he expressed support for the reform movement in Myanmar and underscored the importance of further strengthening defense and security ties.

In Thailand, warm and open discussions were held between Duterte and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as the two identified areas of excellent ties between the Philippines and Thailand.

“Among many areas, we agreed to expand cooperation to address security which is really the common concern of everybody in this region: it’s terrorism, extremism and they also have a very serious problem about drugs. We affirmed the intensified collaboration in the areas of military, trade and investment, tourism, agriculture, science and technology, energy, education, among others,” said Duterte.

They also witnessed the signing of three important documents: the Agreement in the Field of Science and Technology, Implementing Agreement on Specific Areas of Cooperation on Swamp and Dairy Buffalo Production, and the Implementing Program on Tourism Cooperation in 2017-2022.

The President also met with several business leaders in Thailand, bringing home 2 billion dollars of investments from Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group officials alone who agreed to expand business in the country within the next five years.

Myanmar and Thailand are the last two countries the President must visit before the country’s hosting of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this year.

He emphasized the importance of working closely with ASEAN neighbors and other countries in the Asia Pacific region, saying that the benefits gained from such cooperation should be felt by ordinary people and not just the elites.

“We want an ASEAN that is for the people – a truly people-oriented and people-centered community,” he said.

On peace talks and trade

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, the President said his administration remains committed to forging peace with rebels but with a number of conditions for talks to proceed.

He also cited the gains made on trade particularly in the purchase of Philippine produce like bananas following the warming relations with China, the President said he believes that China has a “word of honor” and values its friendship with the Philippines.

Duterte reiterated the country’s response to the situation needs to be more measured to prevent undue developments involving global superpowers.

From the airport, Duterte proceeded to Funeraria Paz in Sucat, Parañaque to pay his last respects to the late Senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani, sister of former President Fidel Ramos.

Shahani, who was a notable women’s rights advocate, passed away last Monday after years of battling cancer. She was 87.###PND