07 November 2016

President Duterte KL trip expected to strengthen Philippine-Malaysia ties

President Rodrigo Duterte will leave for Malaysia Wednesday, Nov. 9 for a two-day official visit, which is expected to deepen relations between the two Southeast Asian neighbors.

In a media briefing in Malacanan Monday, Nov. 7 Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the President will travel to Malaysia on November 9 and 10 as part of his introductory visits to countries in the Southeast Asian region.

The President is expected to hold bilateral talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in Kuala Lumpur. During the bilateral meeting, the two leaders could discuss economic and security cooperation, including Malaysia’s role in the GPH-MILF peace process, Jose said.

Other agenda could also include security issues such as counter-terrorism, as well as Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017. It is also expected that the President will meet the Filipino community in Malaysia.

“The Philippines looks upon Malaysia both as a brother nation and as a dependable partner, not only bilaterally but also within the larger context of the BIMP-EAGA and our beloved ASEAN Community,” according to Jose.

The two countries are both founding members of ASEAN and share a commitment to uphold ASEAN values in the region. Malaysia is the Philippines’ 10th largest trading partner in 2015 and is the second largest investor among all ASEAN countries in the Philippines.

Malaysia also played a constructive role in helping bring peace and stability to Southern Philippines and the two countries have been working closely to confront transnational concerns. PND

Duterte says he will sign Paris agreement
 President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday, Nov. 7 that he would sign the Paris Climate agreement following an extensive debate with the members of his Cabinet.

The President previously said that he would not honor the agreement arguing that the deal is blocking the progress of developing countries like the Philippines.

“By the way, after so much debate ‘yung climate change, pipirmahan ko because a unanimous vote except for one or two. Ako ‘yung isa which was arguing about,” the President said in a speech during the oath-taking ceremony for the new officers of the National Press Club in Malacanan.

The Philippines is bound to follow the agreement if it were to be signed. And in terms of enforcement, if it’s a binding treaty, there has to be a sanction, he said.

The problem, the President said, is that industrialized countries usually do not honor their financial commitments, especially the US.

And with the contributed money to a common fund, it does not say about payment of damages that a country will incur in case of a storm or a typhoon like Yolanda, he said.

Smaller countries like the Philippines can borrow money for projects intended for anti-pollution and anti-carbon emission, according to the President. PND

Duterte signs EO on Bangsamoro Transition Commission
 President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Nov. 7 signed an executive order creating an expanded Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) that will draft the law to create a new Bangsamoro region.

The creation of a Bangsamoro region to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will implement the peace deal between the government and Muslim group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“I am committed to the peace process… Maski ‘yan lang magawa ko sa bayan ko, okay na ako,” said Duterte after the signing ceremony at Rizal Hall in Malacanan.

Duterte said that during the elections, he was appalled that nobody was talking about Mindanao and its problems.

”I was the only one talking about it because the rest of the guys with due respect never knew any single issue about Mindanao, either they did not know about it or just pretended not to talk about it, maybe, well, fear to alienate the others or not also frank enough to admit that there is a problem which we have to solve,” he said.

Duterte said he was a witness to the deaths in the places where Mindanaoans fight for their land. He said Mindanao was his battle cry aside from corruption, drugs and criminality as he wants to end the cycle of war.

He said if no one will stand for peace in Mindanao, the country will have another round of almost 45 years of fighting, which he describes as a tragedy.

He said that is why he is pushing for the passage of BBL, which will create a new autonomous area that will have more powers than the Autonomous Region in Mindanao that it is supposed to replace. 

“So I would be the last person really to deny hindi natin kailangan [ang peace process],” Duterte said. 

Duterte reiterated the need to shift the system of government to federal to address the concerns of rebel groups. 

The Chief Executive said his only desire is that peace in Mindanao “would finally come.”

“And if it can be done peacefully without a fight, we would be grateful to God,” he said.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process; Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad; members of the MILF Central Committee; GPH Implementing Panel Chair Irene Santiago; Implementing Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal and members of the Cabinet and other distinguished guests. PND