BANGKOK, THAILAND—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte marched to a cheering, flag-waving crowd of Filipino supporters in the Kingdom of Thailand on Wednesday, March 22 at the Royal Thai Navy Hall Headquarters.
The meeting with the more than 1,600-strong Filipino community who came from the different provinces across Thailand was organized by the Philippine embassy, in coordination with different organizations of Filipinos, including Partners for Change and the Fil-Thai Cultural Friendship Group, which prepared the evening’s program before the arrival of the President and his entourage.
Quoting himself during the campaign, the President who prefers being called Mayor said, “‘Why am I here?’ I said, ‘Because I love my country.’”
He quickly launched a brief narrative tour of the history of Mindanao, the land of promise, which he said turned instead to a land of conflict as the locals persisted in resisting the colonizers.
On a particular note, President Duterte explained that he made the ASEAN-wide visits to get inputs as the Philippines prepares for the leadership of the ASEAN summit this year.
The speech interspersed with humorous anecdotes and statements, his war on drugs, among others, was interrupted several times by cheering and applause from the audience.
Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Legal Presidential Adviser Counsel Salvador Panelo, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Senators Tito Sotto and Alan Peter Cayetano, Presidential Adviser on Business Ramon ‘RJ’ Jacinto, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, Executive Director Arnel del Barrio of the Philippine Carabao Center, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go and Philippine ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon joined the President on stage.
Earlier, President Duterte met with Thai business representatives to enhance trade and business relations by seeking trade balance with Thailand.
The reason for all efforts
One of the highlights of the two-day visit to Thailand was the toast celebrated between the two countries at the Government House.
The Philippine president, thankful for the warm reception and a deepening of ties with the host said, “With 67 years of diplomatic relations behind us, we can only achieve so much and more. We certainly can achieve more than what we can really see and envision,” Duterte said.
“While there continue to be many challenges, we cannot waver in our resolve. We should always remember that the reason for all of these efforts is the improvement of our people’s lives and the upholding of the greatest good for our region,” he added.