Duterte dispenses Palace duties in Davao
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte spent his first day of office for 2018 at the presidential guest house in Barangay Panacan in Bunawan district here.
Duterte met Indonesian Foreign Minister Rethno Marsudi behind closed doors past 3 p.m. Wednesday.
In a statement, Malacañang said both Duterte and the Indonesian Foreign Minister agreed to elevate cooperation on trade, maritime security, education, and in eradicating terrorism.
Duterte also told Marsudi he was looking forward to the resumption of the Philippines-Indonesia sea routes to further strengthen trade between the two countries.
The statement added that he also told Marsudi that he was interested in the intensified maritime security against foreign and local terror groups, especially in the so-called Philippine backdoor.
The Philippines and Indonesia earlier agreed to cooperate against terror and religious radicalism, especially in the wake of the Marawi siege.
A number of Indonesian militants had also been killed in the Philippines, including Fathur Rohman Alghozi on October 12, 2003, and during the Marawi siege.
Two more Indonesians — Mohammad Ilham Syahputra and Minhati Madrais, the wife of slain Maute leader, Omar Maute — were subsequently arrested.
“President Duterte had also expressed his interest in providing scholarship for Muslim students, particularly to those who are enrolled in the Madrasa institutions,” the statement reads.
Marsudi, Malacañang said, told Duterte that Jakarta was interested in pursuing a joint education program with Asean to “spread the Islamic values” in Southeast Asian nations.
Marsudi also said Jakarta was willing to provide passports to descendants of Indonesians living in Mindanao, particularly on Sarangani Island.
The Philippines had also earlier appealed to Jakarta to spare the life of Filipino housemaid Mary Jane Veloso, who was sentenced to death over drug charges.
President Joko Widodo later agreed to wait for the result of the litigation involving the alleged recruiters of Veloso.
In his first working day for 2018, Duterte also met with officials from the Bureau of Fire Protection and Davao City’s Central 911 over the NCCC Mall fire.
The fire and Central 911 officials had briefed the President on what really transpired based on the outcome of the initial investigation.
A source said Duterte also lectured BFP and 911 officials on the emergency response while he gave pointers to police officials on arrest and seizures.
The President was a government prosecutor before becoming a politician in 1986 as appointed city vice mayor.
The President’s lecture was attended by former Armed Forces chief Eduardo Año, BFP chief Chief Supt. Leonardo Bañaga and heads of the local police and the Highway Patrol Group.
There was no other published schedule on Wednesday for the President, who had spent days resting after dealing with twin disasters in Mindanao in December. /jpv