PH, Japan seal special friendship
PM Abe ‘closer to a brother’ – Duterte
President Duterte and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sealed yesterday their “special friendship” with a vow and resolve to further strengthen the “solid and strategic partnership” between their two countries.
The President said he was overwhelmed with gratitude for Japan’s outpouring generosity and support to the country, from enhanced investment and development aid to the drug rehabilitation efforts.
“I am humbled by this demonstration of friendship and look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Abe on all matters of mutual interest,” said Duterte who described Abe “a friend closer to a brother.”
During his two-day visit, Abe offered an aid package worth one trillion yen (about P430 billion) to the Philippines in investment and infrastructure development over the next five years.
Japan also offered a 600 million yen (about P258 million) grant for high speed boats and other counterterrorism equip- ment to boost the country’s
maritime security. It also promised support for the rehabilitation of drug offenders as well as peace and development initiatives in Mindanao.
President Duterte said Abe’s historic visit to the Philippines has set the bar for “constructive engagements,” citing Japan’s economic and defense support for the country.
“If my visit to Tokyo defined the solid and strategic partnerships of the Philippines and Japan, then, Prime Minister Abe’s visits to Manila and Davao renew the commitment to further strengthen the solid and strategic partnership toward greater peace, progress, and prosperity,” he said.
The President also acknowledged that Abe’s visit to the Philippines was a “welcome and a much awaited reunion.” The two leaders met in Tokyo in October, 2016 when Duterte paid a visit upon Abe’s invitation.
“By all accounts, that visit was a success, with both sides agreeing to chart a common path towards a deeper and even more meaningful engagement,” Duterte said.
“Prime Minister Abe’s presence in Manila is proof positive that Japan and the Philippines are fully committed to bring this long standing friendship and tried and tested partnership to even greater heights,” he added.
He said the two countries are moving forward “as only true friends can” following the signing of agreements on maritime security, agriculture, among others.
“We are friends who treat each other with mutual respect and trust. We are friends who are bound by a shared common resolve to uphold democracy, adherence to the rule of law and a peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.
“And we are friends who constantly seek to invigorate relations through cooperation. Indeed, allow me to say again that ours is a special friendship whose value is beyond any measure,” he added.
After holding talks in Manila, the Prime Minister made a casual and relaxed trip to the President’s home city of Davao where he was shown the world renowned Filipino hospitality.
Abe, accompanied by his wife, visited the President’s modest house for a breakfast meeting; adopted a rescued Philippine eagled named “Sakura;” and ate loads of durian and other local fruits.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation for President Duterte’s heartfelt gesture of welcoming our Japanese people as family members here in the Philippines,” Abe said in his remarks at the state banquet.
Abe is the first head of government to visit the Philippines during the term of President Duterte. He is also the first world leader that President Duterte welcomed in Davao during his presidency.
Friend closer than a brother
President Duterte had nothing but warm praises for Japan during the state banquet hosted for Abe and his delegation. Duterte said he considers Japan “a friend closer than a brother” as he promised to further strengthen the country’s strategic partnership with the long-time ally.
“In Tokyo, I said that Japan deserves its own rightful place in the constellation of the Philippines’ friends,” he said about the country’s largest source of development aid.
“Tonight, let me reiterate that Japan is a friend closer than a brother. That means that Japan is a friend unlike any other,” the President said in his remarks.
Presidential Communications Operation Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Rafael Banaag said President Duterte and PM Abe are not just friends but more like brothers.
Abe took a sneak peek of the simple life of President Duterte at his home in Dona Luisa Subdivision, in Matina, Davao City on Friday morning. No one imagined that the predominantly green house of the President on Quimpo Boulevard would have not one but two heads of government one morning.
Kris Ablan, assistant secretary at the Presidential Communications Office, said that it was President Duterte himself who asked that the meetings between Duterte and Abe in Davao City remain as simple as possible. Duterte even chose to wear one of his trademark plaid shirts over the traditional Barong Tagalog.
“They wanted to treat each other not only as friends but also as brothers,” Ablan said, citing the difference in tone between the heads of state from Thursday’s meeting in Malacañang to the Davao visit on Friday. For Dabawenyos, the visit of Abe to Davao City marked a changing landscape. Davao was becoming a once hidden treasure worthy of a visit from a head of state.
Maximum support for ASEAN
Prime Minister Abe also promised to provide maximum support to make East Asia Summit and the ASEAN related meetings “a tremendous success” this year.
“We support the ASEAN in its attempt to strengthen unity and centrality and to develop as a free and open community,” Abe said.
“From such a perspective, we will provide maximum support to make the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Related Meetings a tremendous success,” he added.
The East Asia Summit (EAS) meetings are held after the annual ASEAN Leaders’ Meetings which the Philippines will host this year.
The Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 coincides with the celebration of 50th anniversary of the 10-nation ASEAN.
ASEAN countries include the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia and last year’s ASEAN Summit host Laos.
Aside from ASEAN countries, EAS members are Japan, Australia, China, India, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and United States.
Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar has said the ASEAN 2017 will serve as the perfect occasion to promote the Philippines.
Andanar said over 100 summits and conferences will be held nationwide including the ASEAN Ministers meeting in April; ASEAN Heads of States Summit in August; and the ASEAN Heads of States Plus Three in November.
Andanar said at least 115.9 billion will be spent for the hosting of the ASEAN Summit 2017.
The kick-off event of the ASEAN 2017 will be held on January 15 at the SMX event center in Davao City where delegates from ASEAN member countries are expected to attend. (With reports from AFP, AP, and PNA)
‘DURIAN DIPLOMACY’ – Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) helps himself to a bite of durian, regarded in Southeast Asia as ‘king of fruits,’ as President Rodrigo R. Duterte plays a gracious host at the Waterfront Hotel in Davao City yesterday.