PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has vowed to work closely with the Philippines on efforts to maintain peace, particularly in the island region of Mindanao.
At the sidelines of the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits here, Bolkiah said that would include unification and modification assistance in the peace process.
"We will continue to support your government's efforts in ensuring peace and stability through various initiatives in southern Philippines," Bolkiah told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during their bilateral talk on Saturday.
Brunei is part of the International Monitoring Team and the independent decommissioning body in the peace process in Mindanao.
In February 2021, a four-member contingent from Brunei Army left their country for Manila to join the assistance team—called International Decommissioning Body Verification and Monitoring Assistance Teams (IDB-VMAT)—for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)
The contingent was stationed in Cotabato City for a year to help in overseeing the process of decommissioning of forces and weapons in Mindanao, which for the body is a key component of the normalization structure in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
Despite roadblocks caused by Covid-19 pandemic, Marcos said the Brunei Sultanate committed to its initiative, which he was thankful for. He told Bolkiah that the "peace process is proceeding along."
This came although the Philippines "extended the Transition Authority for another three years simply because they were unable to do their job during the pandemic," Marcos told Bolkiah.
"This process—the negotiations between the Bangsamoro and our Muslim brothers and sisters began in 1976—I believe, is the fruition of that. And we are very happy," he said.
The President then informed Brunei's Sultan that there will be a parliamentary election in BARMM in 2025 and he looks forward to having a functioning autonomous government in the south.