By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is heading to Malaysia for a two-day private trip to watch the boxing match of Senator Manny Pacquiao and to meet with newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque confirmed that Duterte will be flying to Malaysia today from Davao City to catch the Sunday fight of Pacquiao against Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse.
Roque said Duterte will meet Mahathir Monday. Another source said the President will return to the country after meeting with the Prime Minister.
Roque said the President wanted to discuss insurgency and the ISIS threat with Mahathir.
Following his election, President Duterte congratulated Mahathir and vowed to closely work with him in addressing pressing regional issues.
He assured the Malaysian leader that the Philippines will remain a staunch ally of Malaysia in the area of security, particularly in tackling Islamic extremism and piracy in the high seas.
Duterte also invited Malaysia to revive the joint consultative meeting to build a platform for advancing relations, and discuss pending agreements and other possible collaboration.
The President thanked Mahathir for taking care of Filipinos in Malaysia.
Mahathir made a stunning election upset in May when he defeated his one-time protégé, Najib Razak. Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, stepped out of retirement to challenge Najib following allegations of corruption.
At 92, Mahathir became the world’s oldest head of government. He first served in July 1981 to October 2003 as Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister and elected anew as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister two months ago.
Duterte said it was easy for Mahathir to get reelected because of what Malaysia has achieved under his leadership, particularly in turning Malaysia’s economy into one of the world’s most progressive economies during his 22-year term.