By Elena Aben
Ahead of his visit to Malaysia, President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday, October 29 said he would meet with a deputy of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Davao City.
Duterte did not name the Malaysian official but said that he was expected to be already in Davao City.
“Hindi na ako magtagal (I won’t be staying for long) because the deputy minister of, the assistant of Najib is in Davao,” the president told the audience at the Kabunsuan Cultural Complex in Cotabato City where he graced launching of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda for ARMM and other conflict affected areas in regions 9, 10, and 12.
Duterte did not disclose the agenda of their meeting but stressed that Malaysia is a very important ally.
On Thursday, arriving from his trip to Japan, the president announced he would visit Malaysia next to discuss maritime security, particularly the issue of piracy.
“I am going there to complete the tour because those are the only countries that would really matter to me,” Duterte said during a press conference at the Davao International Airport, referring to Malaysia and Indonesia, with whom the Philippines shares overlapping maritime borders.
The three countries’ waters are infested particularly by members of the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The president had already visited Indonesia along with Laos, Vietnam, Brunei, China and Japan.
“Malaysia, because we have the Malacca Strait. We have this piracy going on every now and then. It puts to shame everybody… It’s high time that I talk to Prime Minister Najib (Razak). We have to do something about it,” Duterte said.
While the president had recently announced the country’s separation from the United States, Malaysia also appears to pivot away from the US.
On Friday, Malaysia announced that it will buy navy patrol vessels from China, a move that is seen as a blow to the United States’ efforts to maintain its influence in the Asia Pacific.