By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang confirmed the meeting between President Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad in Malacañang Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the 93-year-old Malaysian leader will undertake an Official Visit to the Philippines from March 6 to 7.
The Official Visit reciprocates President Duterte’s visit to Malaysia in July last year where the Philippine leader watched the boxing match between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse.
Duterte will officially welcome Mahathir at ceremonies in Malacañang Thursday.
“The two leaders will then hold a bilateral meeting and discuss cooperation in the political, economic and people-to-people spheres, and exchange views on topics of mutual importance,” Panelo said.
Meanwhile, Panelo said discussing the Philippine Sabah claim is still a possibility.
This is Mahathir’s first visit to the Philippines since he assumed his position as the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia in 2018. He undertook official visits in 1987 and 1994 during his previous term as Prime Minister.
During a private meeting with Mahathir last year, Duterte committed to enhance the country’s security and defense cooperation with Malaysia, and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address of issue of terrorism in the region.
According to Malacañang, Duterte reaffirmed the long-standing friendship and brotherhood between the Philippines and Malaysia.
“President Duterte pointed out the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade,” the statement read.
Duterte has expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao.