By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte was treated to an exclusive tour inside the Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) SAIF (FFG-253) docked at the Manila South Harbor Thursday.
The ship, which is in Manila as part of its three-day goodwill visit to the Philippines, arrived Thursday and will be in the country until December 17.
“The goodwill visit aims to renew and strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and Pakistan. It also promotes friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding between the two navies through naval diplomacy,” Malacañang said in a statement.
Duterte, who was welcomed by officials of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Philippines and the Pakistan Navy, was inside the ship for at least 45 minutes.
Duterte was accompanied by his Cabinet officials led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Special Assistant to the Secretary (SAP) Christopher “Bong” Go.
Duterte thanked the officials of the Pakistani Embassy and the crew of the ship for having him and told them that they can drop by “anytime for any reason.”
The PNS SAIF FFG-253 is one of the four F-22P or Zulfiquar-class, or Sword-class, frigates of Pakistan. Its primary role is air defense, enemy interdiction, and patrolling the economic exclusive zone (EEZ).
Its three-day visit is said to include a series of confidence-building engagements between the Philippine Navy and the Pakistan Navy personnel.
Other activities include shipboard tours, visit to national heritage and historical places in Manila, goodwill games, receptions, hosted dinner, and a gift giving at Buhay Tuluyan in Leveriza, Manila.
Before docking at the Manila South Harbor, the PNS SAIF already visited China and Thailand. Its next stop is Malaysia.