PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah held a fruitful bilateral meeting Monday even as the latter expressed support to the Philippines’ war against drugs.
In his press briefing held at the guest palace Istana Edinburgh, Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Duterte and Bolkiah also discussed issues such as the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the peace process, among others.
The two leaders likewise touched on the drug situation in the Philippines which Sultan Bolkiah recognized as a problem.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who attended the press briefing, also formed part of the official delegation of the President in Brunei.
During the press briefing with reporters, Secretary Lopez mentioned the revival of the subregional economic grouping BIMP-EAGA given the proximity of the four countries.
Secretary Dureza cited Brunei’s contribution to maintain the ceasefire in the Bangsamoro peace process.
Also part of the discussion is the 2017 ASEAN chairmanship of the Philippines.
Secretary Yasay said, “We had discussed the Philippines chairmanship of ASEAN for next year. And that the Sultan himself had expressed his fullest support to our President who will be heading the chairmanship next year.”
On the South China Sea issue, the President explained his position to Sultan Bolkiah with respect to the Philippine claims.
Secretary Yasay said, “On the part of our President, he had made it clear that in pursuing these talks with China maybe now is not the time but eventually when there will be the opportunity to discuss the issue more substantively in a bilateral engagement. We will be doing so in pursuing it within the framework of the arbitral tribunal’s decision.”
Such one-on-one talks with foreign leaders are producing results, according to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
“Sweeping the regions now is new kind of DDS: Diplomacy Duterte style,” Senator Cayetano added.