MANILA—The Philippines and Brunei on Thursday committed to further broaden and intensify cooperation in the areas of trade, security and peace.
In a joint statement following their successful bilateral meeting in Malacañang, President Rodrigo Duterte and Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah said they have agreed to further strengthen their countries’ close bilateral ties in order to achieve greater peace, progress and prosperity for their respective peoples.
Among the issues agreed upon by the two leaders include strengthen the existing bilateral consultative mechanisms, heightened political engagements, increased collaboration in the campaign against illicit drugs, deeper bilateral trade and economic relations and the development of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) among others.
Duterte said the Philippines welcome intensified interactions and exchange between the two governments.
“We resolve to utilize the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation or JCBC mechanisms to chart future paths to review the progress that we have made,” he said.
“These include waging a committed and principled campaign against terrorism, violent extremism and piracy at sea, peace and development in Mindanao remain a key area of convergence for Philippines and Brunei Darussalam,” Duterte said as he recognized Brunei’s role in the peace process in the southern Philippines.
For his part, Bolkiah said the defense links between the Philippines and Brunei are closer than ever through the participation of the latter in the International Monitoring Team in Mindanao.
“The ongoing peace initiative will promise a prosperous future for your people and have a far-reaching impact upon our region,” Bolkiah said.
The Brunei leader also affirmed his country’s support to President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
“We also look forward to our future collaboration in addressing issues on drugs. We believe that both sides will benefit from the exchanges of expertise and best practices in this area,” Boliah said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines and Brunei expressed their shared commitment to the development of the BIMP-EAGA to further promote sustainable and inclusive growth as well as fostering stronger people-to-people linkages in the sub-region.
“We support for a greater BIMP–EAGA, the sub-regional grouping that can be a model for connectivity and for bringing inclusive development to areas that most need growth to transform lives and communities,” Duterte said.
“We also look forward to further opportunities for closer cooperation under the BIMP-EAGA. As envisioned for 2025, it is important for us to develop a resilient and competitive sub-region. I am confident that under your (Philippines) chairmanship we will be able to achieve our common goals for BIMP-EAGA,” Bolkiah said.
The two leaders also hailed the signing of two agreements that further intensify culture and economic ties between their respective countries.
These are the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding on Halal Industry and Halal Export Development and Promotion.
The agreement on cultural cooperation will promote cooperation in the field of culture and arts by enhancing institutional networking and people to people exchanges.
Meanwhile, the MOU on Halal will foster cooperation in the field of Halal industry and Halal products development, reduce technical barriers to trade, facilitate bilateral relations between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam, particularly with respect to Halal export development and promotion programs.
Duterte also took the opportunity to thank Bolkiah for Brunei’s “gracious hosting of Filipinos”
“They are living symbols of friendship between our people and the special care and concern of His Majesty,” Duterte said.
Bolkiah said the goodwill shown by the 23,000 Filipinos who are working and residing in Brunei underscored the strong partnership between the two countries through people-to-people exchanges.
“We are grateful for their contributions and continue to welcome them as close friends,” Bolkiah said.
Lastly, the two leaders emphasized the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and welcomed the progress in the consultations on the Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Duterte said ASEAN’s and Bolkiah’s support for the Chairmanship of ASEAN is most crucial and said he is looking forward to securing their backing.
“We will work together to ensure that the principled position for the peaceful resolution of disputes will be articulated fully. This is a collective interest that must be upheld in the implementation of the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and greater progress on the Framework of Code of Conduct in South China Sea,” he said.
“As we seek peace, stability and security in the vital waters of South China Sea, we must remember that we have duties as responsible members of the international community which we must abide,” Duterte said.
Bolkiah said Brunei fully supports Duterte.
“As close partners in ASEAN, we extend our full support for the Philippines ASEAN Chairmanship and look forward to a successful year under your leadership. We will continue working closely particularly as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN this year,” he said.
“I thank President Duterte once again for hosting today’s meeting and look forward to fruitful discussion at the Summit,” Bolkiah said.