MANILA — Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday vowed to continue offering assistance to Bangsamoro people in pursuit of peace in Mindanao.
Anwar said during a bilateral meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. in Malacañang that this will be done through "various capacity-building programs including through our Malaysia technical cooperation program."
Anwar expressed gratitude for the Philippines' efforts to sustain peace in the Bangsamoro region.
"Under your leadership [as] President, you have seen great strides in this direction. And I think it’s only our duty as a good neighbor to support and facilitate the process and… things need to be done at the bilateral level to support this endeavor," the Malaysian state leader told Marcos, as cited by the Presidential Communications Office.
"It has to succeed in the interest of the Philippines and Malaysia and the region and then utilize this enormous potential to the benefit of our people.”
Marcos said both countries have agreed to continue cooperation on political and security matters, including the "rekindling of the Joint Commission Meetings and joint initiatives to combat transnational crime and terrorism."
“We have recognized the great contribution that Malaysia has made to the peace process in southern Philippines. And we hope that this support that they have shown over the past few years will continue and will continue to contribute to the success of the peace process and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region,” the President said.
Marcos noted the Philippines and Malaysia's deep and shared historic roots, saying cultures of both countries enjoy kinship.
"As such, we spoke of further deepening our people-to-people ties through continued cultural exchanges and tourism," he said.
Anwar arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday for a 2-day official visit.
He is the first foreign head of state to visit the Philippines under the Marcos Jr administration.
SOUTH CHINA SEA
Anwar, meanwhile, shared Marcos's concerns regarding the international quarrel in the West Philippine Sea, the exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea.
Anwar said a “multilateral level” approach is needed to deal with the issue.
“Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the issue, we should try and engage and take the position at a multilateral level between ASEAN so that we have a comprehensive approach and achieve an amicable resolution to this outstanding problem,” he said.
Malaysia previously accused China of breaching its sovereignty multiple times with Chinese vessels, entering its maritime economic zone in the disputed South China Sea.
China's aggression in the Philippines' EEZ has also spiked tensions between Manila and Beijing for over a decade.