News Briefs: March 1, 2019
Malaysian PM Mahathir due in Manila on March 6
On President Duterte’s invitation, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad will make an official visit to Manila on March 6 and 7, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday. Duterte will welcome Mahathir at ceremonies in Malacañang Palace, after which the two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss topics of mutual importance. During his visit, Mahathir will also meet with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The DFA said the visit would be Mahathir’s first to the country since his reelection as Malaysian prime minister last year. During his previous term as prime minister, he undertook official visits to the country in 1987 and 1994. His latest visit reciprocates Duterte’s visit to Malaysia in July last year, the DFA said. —JEROME ANING
Navy vessels ready to intercept cocaine smugglers
The Philippine Navy on Thursday expressed readiness to help in efforts to intercept and trace the source of the bricks of cocaine found floating off the country’s eastern coastlines after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he was alarmed by the situation. Capt. Jonathan Zata, the Navy spokesperson, said the service command had enough assets to assist in maritime law enforcement operations. “Surveillance and interdiction units under the naval forces collaborate with the unified commands,” he said in a text message. Lorenzana on Tuesday described as “very concerning” the recovery of cocaine bricks weighing more than 100 kilograms in separate instances off islands and provinces on the country’s eastern coast. Lorenzana said what was needed was intensified patrol operations by the Navy, Coast Guard and the police maritime group to stop international syndicates from offloading cocaine in the country’s waters. —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
Pacquiao to be made honorary Scout Ranger
Sen. Manny Pacquiao will be made an honorary Army Scout Ranger when he visits Camp Aguinaldo on Friday. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, previously invited Pacquiao to visit the military’s general headquarters following his Jan. 20 successful defense of his World Boxing Association welterweight title against Adrien Broner. According to Col. Noel Detoyato, chief of the AFP public affairs office, the senator will also be given a plaque of appreciation and awarded a military achievement medal. Pacquiao is an Army reservist with the rank of colonel. “He will be accorded military honors as a senator,” Detoyato said. Madrigal described Pacquiao as having “the real heart of a champion, the heart of a Filipino soldier and warrior.” —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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