Brunei sultan pilots own plane to Philippines

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 15 2013 07:39 PM | Updated as of Apr 16 2013 06:59 AM

His Majesty Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is welcomed by Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lauro Catalino Dela Cruz at the tarmac area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 2 for his 2-day state visit to the Philippines. Photo by Raoul Esperas

MANILA - The Brunei sultan made a grandiose entrance to the Philippines by piloting his own plane.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who arrived on Monday afternoon, was seen on the pilot seat of his Airbus 340-212 upon landing.

Bolkiah is in the Philippines for his two-day state visit.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the visit comes at the most opportune time since Brunei is a member of the International Monitoring Team, which helps oversee the peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Valte also noted Brunei holds the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). She said the country will be seeking more bilateral deals with Brunei.

“Bahagi sila ng IMT and Brunei is also host to about 21,000 Filipinos doon po sa kanilang bansa. Tiningnan ko lang po ‘yung napipintong schedule din po ng kanyang pagdalaw and it looks—at least it seems to me, that the schedule is very tight,” she said.

This also means there is a slim chance for a meeting between Bolkiah and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu.

Valte denied that the Palace was trying to block Kiram’s attempt to seek an audience with the Sultan.

“The schedule for the visit was a product of coordination between the Philippine side and the Brunei side. The schedule seemed full. I don’t see any opportunity for that,” she said, referring to the Kiram’s request to meet the Brunei leader.