By Genalyn Kabiling
A joint sea patrol arrangement will likely be discussed and firmed up in President Duterte’s meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the two leaders would tackle security cooperation between the Philippines and Malaysia in a bid to combat threat of terrorism in the region.
“Nadeklara na naman ni Presidente ang pag-uusapan nila, eh iyong rebelyon sa Mindanao at saka iyong ISIS ‘no, hindi lang sa Pilipinas kung hindi dito sa ating rehiyon [The President has declared they will discuss the rebellion in Mindanao and the ISIS threat not only in the Philippines but also in our region],” Roque said in a radio interview.
“Marami kasing pagkakataon na pupuwedeng magkaroon ng cooperation sa Malaysia. Tingin ko isa po iyan, isa sa malinaw na narinig ko na rito eh iyong joint cooperation pagdating sa patrolya sa karagatan para nga magkaroon ng lunas ito pong problema ng terorismo dito sa Southeast Asia” [There are many opportunities for cooperation with Malaysia. I think one of them, which I clearly heard, is the joint cooperation on sea patrols to combat the problem of terrorism in Southeast Asia],” he added.
The President has traveled to Kuala Lumpur to watch the boxing match of Senator Manny Pacquiao and then hold talks with the newly-elected Prime Minister. He is expected to return to the country after his meeting with Mahathir on Monday.
Ahead of their bilateral talks, Duterte had an opportunity to bond with Mahathir when they both watched Pacquiao defeat his opponent Lucas Matthysse through a technical knockout Sunday.
The two leaders, accompanied by some government officials, also had lunch after the boxing match.
“Ang pinakaimportante po, si Presidente Duterte isa sa pinakaunang lider ng isang bansa na nakausap ni Mahathir mula noong siya ay bumalik sa kapangyarihan [The important thing is President Duterte is one of the first world leaders who talked to Mahathir since he returned to power],” he said.
Mahathir made a political comeback following his election last May. At age 92, he is considered the world’s oldest prime minister. He previously served as prime minster for two decades.
Last year, the Philippines forged an agreement with Malaysia and Indonesia to step up maritime security to keep terrorists, kidnappers and other criminals away from regional seas. Under the pact, they will coordinate naval patrols to secure the Sulu Sea, located northeast of Borneo island and southwest of the Philippines.