President Duterte boosts cooperation with Myanmar

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar—President Rodrigo Duterte capped his two-day visit here on Monday, March 20, with the Philippines’ commitment to expand its cooperation with Myanmar on a broad range of issues.

“As developing countries, we face similar and complex problems. We must not be afraid to confront them head on. We should use our friendship as a solid base for our fulcrum of collaboration that transformed challenges into opportunities,” President Duterte said in his toast remarks at the official dinner held at the Presidential Palace here.

In defense and security, Duterte said both countries “must work closer to address the threats of terrorism and violent extremism that undermine the economic progress we have so far achieved.”

“We should be unrelenting in our fight to dismantle the apparatus of the illegal drug trade. This menace is a challenge that knows no borders and affects all of us in the region,” he added.

In trade and investment, Duterte said both countries must sustain its growth rates so that everyone in the society could enjoy the blessings of prosperity.

Duterte described his first official visit in Myanmar as an auspicious time between the two countries, noting the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine-Myanmar bilateral relations last year.

“This year, we turn the page for a new chapter of ties that should rightly be strong and deeper,” he said.

According to Duterte, Philippine businesses are helping fuel growth to investments in key sectors in Myanmar such as pharmaceuticals and food and beverages.

“Philippine companies will remain keenly interested in the development potentials of Myanmar, which is among the highest in the region,” Duterte said.

Duterte noted the “proud presence” of Filipinos in Myanmar. Filipinos based in Myanmar are mostly teachers, lawyers, engineers and humanitarian workers.

The President also thanked the people of Myanmar for its timely assistance when the Philippines was hit by natural disasters, including typhoon “Pablo,” the earthquake in Bohol, and supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan).

The Philippines, on the other hand, is ready to support Myanmar in its own humanitarian challenges.

For his part, Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw said he is honored by the visit of President Duterte.

“Myanmar has always attached great importance to our relations with the Philippines,” he said.

He also said that Myanmar will “support and fully cooperate with the Philippines’ efforts towards the successful stewardship of ASEAN this year.”

“Myanmar looks forward to working closely with the Philippines and other member states to accelerate our efforts in the ASEAN community building process and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN in 2017 with innovative and forward-looking initiatives,” he said.###PND