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DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his official delegation departed on Sunday, March 19, for his back-to-back official visits to the countries of Myanmar and Thailand.
In his departure speech, President Duterte underscored the importance of his trips in strengthening partnership and cooperation with the two nations particularly in economic, trade and investment, education, defense, and combatting transnational crimes such as terrorism, piracy and illicit drug trade.
“I leave today for the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Kingdom of Thailand. These Official Visits form the final leg of my introductory trips to my colleagues and friends in ASEAN,” he said.
He noted that his visits are timely as the Philippines prepares to host the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Manila this April.
Upon the invitation of the Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw, Duterte will first visit Myanmar from March 19 to 20 and is expected to have bilateral talks with the Myanmar President who will also host a state banquet in honor of the visiting head of state.
“Myanmar is our ASEAN neighbor and friend with whom we’ve had relations for more than six decades now. My visit will underscore our commitment to deepen partnership with Myanmar towards a brighter and better future,” Duterte said.
He said bilateral trade and investment will be the key area of discussion since Myanmar’s economic development is recognized as one of the fastest in the region while the Philippines is expanding businesses with its neighboring countries. Mutually beneficial sectors of growth such pharmaceuticals, food and beverages will also be discussed.
Duterte is also scheduled to meet with other high-ranking government officials in Myanmar including State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
From Myanmar, the President will proceed to Thailand for another official visit from March 20 to 22.
Duterte said he will be holding a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to discuss strengthening defense relations, intensifying trade and investment, and enhancing education, cooperation, among others.
The Chief Executive is also scheduled to meet with several members of the corporate sector in Thailand to discuss economic opportunities in the Philippines.
The President will be meeting the Filipino community in both Myanmar and Thailand. He said he will thank them for their support and apprise them of the significant developments happening in the country since he assumed the presidency.
Campaign vs corruption, drugs and criminality
Prior to his departure, the President answered several queries from the media on some pressing issues in the country today.
On the impeachment case filed against him, the President brushed off the issue saying that he would rather focus on performing his duties and complying with his promises to the people such as eradicating corruption, illegal drugs and criminality.
“I welcome both developments. They can do their worst. I can do better in my performance as a worker in government, period. This is a democracy,” he said.
“I will deliver on my promises. Listen to me, even if it could cost me my life, my honor, and the presidency. Kaya kong bitawan lahat ‘yan, mawala sa akin, but I will comply with my promise,” he added.
He also said that there will be improvement in the area of law and order warning drug lords and criminals to stop their illegal activities once and for all to avoid having trouble with the government.
The President’s official delegation includes acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director Isidro Lapeña, and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Vicente Sotto III.