MANILA, Philippines - Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei yesterday vowed his support for the peace process in Mindanao as he reaffirmed his country’s ties with the Philippines.
President Aquino welcomed Bolkiah to Malacañang yesterday.
“I would like to commend you, Mr. President, for the initiatives you have taken to promote peace and reconciliation in the southern Philippines, and I wish to assure you that Brunei will continue to provide assistance in your peacekeeping efforts,” Bolkiah said during the state luncheon hosted by the President at Malacañang’s Rizal Hall.
“I am much impressed by the progress which has taken place in the Philippines. I am happy to reaffirm the longstanding friendship and cooperation that exist between our two countries,” Bolkiah said.
The sultan thanked Aquino for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to him during his two-day visit.
“I am pleased to see our governments working together on projects and initiatives in agriculture, education, defense, and more recently in energy,” Bolkiah said.
“Brunei is happy to be hosting more than 20,000 of your citizens who are making important contributions to our development. I believe that there are also many opportunities for our people to explore in further promoting trade and investment between Brunei and the Philippines,” he said.
Bolkiah said Brunei will continue to work closely with the Philippines toward achieving concrete results in economic growth and social progress, and in promoting regional peace and stability.
The President did not discuss with Bolkiah the issues of Sabah and the West Philippine Sea. But Aquino said as a brother nation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), “our country is committed to nurturing our relationship and we commit to enhancing cooperation with Brunei and with all Southeast Asian states, not only through economic and cultural engagements, but also through dialogue for maritime security.”
“This is our pledge to continue working with our neighbors in implementing the commitments of ASEAN member states in the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and in moving forward with negotiations for the adoption of a Code of Conduct,” Aquino said. Brunei will be hosting the ASEAN Summit on April 24 and 25.
The President expressed confidence that as Brunei “takes on the mantle of ASEAN chairmanship, the region will move further along the straight path toward harmony and sustainable progress.”
“I look forward to working with Your Majesty in building a Southeast Asia that is truly an abode of peace for all people,” he said.