MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is flying to Myanmar and Thailand next week for official visits.
Department of Foreign Affairs assistant secretary Charles Jose said Duterte's visit to Myanmar will be on March 19 to 20, to be followed by a visit to Thailand on March 20 to 22.
"These visits are part of the President's introductory visits to countries in Southeast Asia. Myanmar and Thailand are the two remaining countries in the region that the President has not yet visited," he said.
"The visits to Myanmar and Thailand demonstrate our leader's resolve to forge stronger relations with our neighbors and cooperate closely with them in various areas of endeavor," he added.
Duterte had already been to Bangkok last year, but only to pay his final respects to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who passed away in October.
Jose said Duterte is expected to meet with Myanmar President Htin Kyaw and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in his visit to the country.
The chief executive shall also meet with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand, but not the new king, Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Duterte is also scheduled to meet with the Filipino communities in both countries.
Jose said there are "expected agreements to be signed" during the visit to Thailand, mostly in the areas of agriculture, science and technology, energy, and education, but they are still being finalized.
In Myanmar, however, there are no agreements to be signed.
Jose also said the issue of the dispute in the South China Sea may be brought up during Duterte's visit, noting that there are "no set agenda items" when the leaders talk.
"We are not ruling in or ruling out on the South China Sea," he said.
"If this will be discussed, I think it will be in the context of reaffirming our position, especially ASEAN's position on our desire, primarily for the full and effective implementation of the 2002 DOC (Declaration on Conduct) and for the early conclusion of the COC (Code of Conduct)," he added.
"On the part of the Philippines, I think it will be reiteration of our commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes and our adherence to the rule of law," he said.