Earlier today, I hosted President Rodrigo Duterte in Malaysia for the first time for discussions on a wide range of issues, ranging from bilateral ties between Malaysia and the Philippines to the Mindanao Peace Agreements in the southern Philippines.
The Philippines is not only Malaysia’s neighbour, but also our friend, and I have been delighted by the strengthening of ties between our countries in recent years. While the relationship, like any other, has faced strains at times, our common interests far outweigh any points of disagreement.
The Philippines is Malaysia’s fifth largest trading partner in ASEAN, and tenth largest globally. We are delighted to host hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who make a meaningful and much valued contribution to our society. On the international stage too, we share similar beliefs, including that of an Asian Century – where countries such as ours will play an increasing role in the global economy.
Furthermore, we stand shoulder to shoulder on matters of peace and security, with both our countries recognising the need to ensure stability within and outside borders. To that end, I am pleased to announce the signing of an Exchange of Notes between our Governments on establishing a Framework for Cooperation in tackling the issue of kidnap for ransom and other security issues along our sea borders.
We also discussed the progress that has been made since the launch of the Implementing Phase of the Mindanao Peace Agreements between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that we were honoured to host in Kuala Lumpur in August.
I welcome President Duterte’s signing of the Executive Order enabling the reconstitution of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission. This will, in turn, lead to the drafting of an enabling law for the eventual formation of a Bangsamoro Government.
This was another significant milestone, and a manifestation of President Duterte’s strong commitment to the Bangsamoro peace process, which started 15 years ago. President Duterte acknowledged the strong support that Malaysia has extended to this process and I am confident that, with his clear roadmap to peace, the remaining long standing issues too can be resolved.
In Malaysia, President Duterte will find a steadfast partner in his quest to achieve peace in the southern Philippines. We look forward to working closely with him and the Filipino people to strengthen even further the close ties that bind our two countries.