News Release

PBBM remains hopeful Malaysia, Brunei will continue helping Mindanao dev’t efforts

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. Thursday thanked Malaysia and Brunei for bringing stability in Mindanao as he remained hopeful that the country’s two Southeast Asian neighbors will continue supporting the region’s development initiatives to uplift the living condition of its people.

“We have to thank Brunei for the assistance and support that we have been receiving in southern Philippines, in the Muslim Autonomous Region, which have been big factor in what we think is going to be a successful Autonomous Region,” President Marcos said as he welcomed Brunei’s Ambassador Megawati Dato Paduka Haji Manan in Malacanang Palace.

“So again, I hope that Brunei continues to give our Muslim community in Southern Philippines whatever opportunities are available because that is the best way to assert that having peace is to give a good life to the people, a life that they would like to deserve,” the President pointed out.

The approach that the government has taken is the best formula: by bringing as much development as quickly as possible in the area that will increase economic activity so people will have good living conditions and all the essentials to turn them away from fighting and the secessionist activity, the President said.

In response to President Marcos, Ambassador Manan said it would certainly be Brunei’s direction — to increase the level of cooperation with the southern region as well because Brunei knows there is certain commonalities.

“And so we hope that we will branch out, you know, expand the existing cooperation to give some – a little bit more opportunities for the south side,” she told the President.

“As Mr. President is saying, giving them more big opportunities so that they’ll feel that they’re more empowered in terms of uplifting their lives as well.”

The President and the Brunei ambassador also underscored the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in resolving regional concerns such as the South China Sea issue and the civil unrest in Myanmar.

President Marcos said although its members sometimes differ in certain areas for the most part, in essence, idea and concept, they agree that the Asean still remains the “most important mover for all of what we attempt diplomatically in terms of the conflicts that we are seeing.”

Malaysian Ambassador Dato Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino Bin Anthony also presented his credentials to the President on Thursday.

In welcoming the Malaysian ambassador, the President recognized Kuala Lumpur’s role in bringing peace to Southern Philippines, expecting it to continue participating in the development of the Bangsamoro region.

“It’s going to be very, very important because as long as we can provide… One of the complaints over the many, many years from the Muslim community in the Philippines was that they are underrepresented and underdeveloped. And they were absolutely right. So we are trying to fix that. We are trying to return a balance,” President Marcos said.

The Malaysian ambassador said as the region gains stability, he believes that what Malaysia has done so far will sustain the progress of Mindanao. #