By Filane Mikee Cervantes

PBBM IS BACK. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. arrives at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City at 3:58 a.m. on Saturday (June 1, 2024) after his state visit to Brunei and working visit to Singapore. The President embarked on his first state visit to the Sultanate state while he made history by being the first Philippine president to deliver a keynote message at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. vowed on Saturday to build on the gains of his successful trips to Brunei Darussalam and Singapore to advance the country’s economic and security agenda.

Marcos made the commitment after arriving at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City at 3:58 a.m. on Saturday.

“My promise to all Filipinos, we will use every opportunity and continue to build bridges that will ensure a long-lasting peace and stability in our region,” he said in his arrival speech. 

The President embarked on his first state visit to the Sultanate state while he made history by being the first Philippine president to deliver a keynote message at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

In his two-day state visit to Brunei, Marcos said he met with His Majesty Sultan Haki Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah and discussed strengthening the 40-year-old bilateral ties between their countries.

“This year marks 40 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries and our conversation covered many facets of our relations, from defense and security, maritime cooperation, economic cooperation, and people-to-people exchanges,” he said.

“We aspired for stronger bilateral cooperation and to work together to ensure that peace and security reigns in the ASEAN region.” 

The Philippines and Brunei forged three memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on tourism cooperation, International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and maritime cooperation.

A letter of intent on agricultural cooperation was also signed. 

Marcos likewise expressed the Philippines’ support for Brunei to establish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Center for Climate Change.

He said while in Brunei, the country’s key government players and business sectors engaged in productive dialogue with their counterparts.

“The Philippine Business Forum highlighted agribusiness, renewable energy, halal development, and opportunities in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area) and BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” he added.

Marcos said the established connections between the Philippines’ and Brunei’s business sectors are expected to yield significant commercial benefits, including increased trade and investment, enhanced market access for goods and services, and sharing of technology innovations and best practices.

He said he also met with executives of Bruneian oil and gas companies, such as the Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sendiran Berhad, Brunei LNG Sendiran Berhad, Total Energies in Brunei, Serikandi Oilfield Services Sendiran Berhad, and the Adinin Group of Companies.

He likewise met with the Filipino community in the Sultanate state.

Two-day working visit to Singapore

Meanwhile, during his two-day working visit to Singapore, Marcos met with President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and newly appointed Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

He said President Shanmugaratnam has accepted his invitation for the latter to visit the Philippines in August.

“This is very important, especially because 2024 marks 55 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. We committed to work hard in pursuing the signing of three near-completion MOUs by the time the Singaporean President visits Manila later this year,” he said.

The President also delivered a historic keynote address at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, where he expounded on the realities and constants in the current situation of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

“As a responsible member of the international community, I took the opportunity of the Shangri-La Dialogue to tell the representatives of at least 48 countries in front of me that the lines we draw on our waters are derived not from imagination, but from international law. Unlike others, we submitted our assertions to rigorous legal scrutiny by the world’s leading jurists,” he said.

Marcos also had a bilateral meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte and met with some members of the US Congressional Delegation to discuss future ways to improve collaboration and cooperation with other countries. (PNA)