“The Prime Minister devoted and demonstrated fealty to these ideals. And I believe there is no better time than now to acknowledge him as a friend, partner and brother,” Duterte said.
KJ Rosales
Duterte: ‘Mahathir Mohamad a friend, partner, brother’
Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star) - March 9, 2019 - 12:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines  —  He was welcomed as a head of state, and sent off as a “friend, partner and brother,” President Duterte said, referring to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who ended his three-day state visit yesterday.

The President relayed his message of appreciation to Mahathir at a dinner in his honor at Malacañang Thursday night.

Duterte praised the Malaysian leader for his advocacy for peace, regional cooperation and adherence to international law “guided by sovereign aspirations and unfettered by external dictates.”

“The Prime Minister devoted and demonstrated fealty to these ideals. And I believe there is no better time than now to acknowledge him as a friend, partner and brother,” Duterte said.

Duterte called Mahathir a beloved statesman who has earned the respect and friendship of many within the region and beyond.

The President said Mahathir returned to Manila with a profound understanding and deep appreciation of the ties that bind the Philippines and Malaysia. The Malaysian leader was in the Philippines in 1994 – including a trip to Davao City – for the inauguration of BIMP-EAGA during the Ramos administration.

Duterte pointed out that Mahathir shares the conviction that realizing the promise of Mindanao is crucial for all stakeholders in the region.

“I remember vividly his visit to Davao City in 1994 when he, together with then president Fidel Ramos, inaugurated the BIMP-EAGA. For us Mindanaoans, it was a demonstration of confidence in the potentials of Mindanao and a bold investment for greater progress and prosperity for the region,” the President said.

Duterte likewise said that in order to achieve lasting peace and growth, the Philippines needed to succeed in securing lasting stability in Mindanao, to which Mahathir also extended vital support. Malaysia is a facilitator in the peace process.

Duterte also said that the recent ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law signals the culmination of years of painstaking efforts by many stakeholders in the  country and in the international community – especially Malaysia.

“Certainly, there are still many challenges ahead. But positive transformation would not continue to happen had [the] wheels not been pushed and made to run back then. And in this, the Prime Minister has been a key figure,” Duterte said.

The President expressed hope that the Philippines and Malaysia will continue working together in a broader arena to address many issues of common concern.

“With shared values and aspirations, we continue to forge ahead by standing by and with each other. And we know that only [with] collective efforts can we win the war against criminality at sea, terrorism, illegal drugs and other transnational crimes,” the President added.

He cited the importance of time-honored principles of international law, including non-interference in domestic affairs, in helping the country gain and preserve the respect of the international community.

“And it will be remembered for the storied past that our countries and peoples share, [and] the bright future we are working to achieve for posterity,” Duterte said. 

MAHATHIR MOHAMAD RODRIGO DUTERTE
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