SINGAPORE — President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Singapore Thursday, April 26, for the biannual summit of the 10 Southeast Asian leaders.
Upon arrival at the Changi International Airport, President Duterte, accompanied by a lean delegation, was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap and Sam Tan Chin Siong, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The President will kick off his visit here with bilateral meetings with several leaders of ASEAN.
In an interview with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, he said that the meetings will be with leaders of Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Based on the President’s schedule, he will be meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Friday.
According to Cayetano, piracy and terrorism are most likely to be discussed by the two leaders.
“Regarding piracy-terrorism, it is always high on the agenda of the two Presidents because sumusulong na ang ating cooperation with them,” he said.
He added that trade relations of the two countries might also be tackled during the meeting.
“Of course, when you have peace and order, then you have also commerce so ‘yung trade routes through ‘yung ROROs and through the maritime,” the official said.
Cayetano said the President might also raise the case of Filipino fishermen detained in Indonesia for alleged illegal fishing activities.
“Because wala ngang boundary sa dagat na visible sa ating mga fishermen, and unlike the fishermen sa ibang mga bansa na kumpleto sa GPS, et cetera, marami pa ring nahuhuling Pilipino minsan sa Vietnam tapos sa Indonesia. So high in the priority of the President is the release of the fishermen who are still in Indonesia,” he explained.
Cayetano said Duterte is also expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also on Friday. He however noted that some details of the meeting are still being finalized.
The President is also scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Cayetano said the Philippines requested for the meeting since Singapore is the current chairman and host of the 32nd ASEAN Summit succeeding the Philippines.
The meeting will take place at the Istana, which is the official residence and office of Prime Minister Lee.
President Duterte, along with his fellow ASEAN leaders, will attend the dinner to be hosted by Prime Minister Lee and the Plenary Session also at Istana on Friday.
On Saturday, the President will participate in the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit which will be followed by the Summit Retreat.
The summit will be capped off by a lunch to be hosted by the ASEAN chair.
The Chief Executive will then attend a business delegation meeting before his scheduled bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Lee.
In the evening, Duterte will meet with the members of the Filipino community in Singapore before returning to Davao City.
According to Ambassador Yap, there are about 180,000 Filipinos working and living in Singapore. Of the number, around 60 percent are professional or skilled workers while 40 percent are domestic or household workers.
Yap stressed that the Chief Executive still enjoys “very high support and trust” from OFWs in Singapore, noting that it only took less than 24 hours before the 6,000 available slots for the event were filled in. ###PND