THE Philippines’ claim over Sabah will not be among the issues which President Duterte will discuss with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak during his official visit to Malaysia from Nov. 9 to 10.
President Duterte said the Sabah issue will have to take the backseat because he would rather talk about strengthening security in the region.
“Not at this time because my visit is just one day to focus on what is happening in the Malacca Strait,” Duterte said in his pre-departure briefing at NAIA Terminal 2 yesterday.
“That area there, it’s a vital artery going to the Pacific Ocean. Either you go down under Mindanao or you can make your exit from Asia via the north, that is from Japan. So mamili lang sila,” the President said.
Duterte also recognizes Kuala Lumpur’s role in helping the Philippines in attaining peace in Mindanao.
“But, what is important that I can talk to him about these issues including the rebellion of the Moro in Jolo, in the Zamboanga archipelago,” he said.
Duterte’s visit to KL came as a backdrop of the kidnapping of a German national and the killing of his partner early this week off the shores of Malaysia. The suspects, believed to be members of the Abu Sayyaf Group, then brought their victims to Sulu.
Duterte is also set to thresh out with Razak the latter’s continued support to the peace process in Southern Philippines as well as the pressing Abu Sayyaf threat to the Philippines and neighboring countries including Malaysia and Indonesia.
The President also hopes to pay his last respects in Bangkok to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej
“His Majesty the King, was a true friend of the Philippines, whose state visit in 1963 continues to resonate to this day,” according to President Duterte in his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Pasay City.
“He will be remembered for his dedicated efforts to foster goodwill and friendship between our nations and peoples. For all he has done to bridge peoples to greater understanding, it truly deserves a special place in history.” The President said.
The President was flying to Kuala Lumpur for bilateral talks with Razak.
He is also set to discuss various regional issues with Razak including maritime security at economic cooperation concerns in Malaysia.
“The Philippines recognizes Malaysia’s role in pursuing just and lasting peace in Mindanao. In my talks with the Prime Minister, I shall seek Malaysia’s continued support for the peace process in Southern Philippines,” the President said.
“Of course, economic cooperation will be an important point of reference. I will discuss the ways of intensifying two-way trade and investment as well as support for the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area to spur Mindanao growth. The two tracks of peace and prosperity have to be pursued to ensure that the developments that we aim will benefit all,” he said.
Abu Sayyaf problem
The President is expected to push for joint action against the Abu Sayyaf when he meets with Razak.
He had earlier agreed with Indonesian President Joko Widodo that a more concerted effort was needed to crush the group, which currently holds several foreign hostages.
The president has said it was important for the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia to come together in finding a solution to the Abu Sayyaf problem.
The President’s top agenda in his visit include Malaysia’s participation in the government’s peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), security issues in the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea, counter-terrorism and the Philippines chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017
Duterte is set to fly home