MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte returned to Manila Saturday following a visit to Brunei Darussalam, where he reaffirmed the country's long-standing ties with the kingdom at the 50th year of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s ascension to the throne.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the President "described His Majesty the Sultan as a friend of the Philippines in the truest and most profound sense of the word.”
“The President also reaffirmed the long and enduring ties between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam and renewed the special friendship between the two countries,” Abella said.
He said Duterte also recognized the Sultan's "principled commitment to the pursuit of just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao" and the welfare of Filipinos based in Brunei.
An estimated 32,000 Filipinos are based in Brunei, according to the latest estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Bolkiah, 71, marked his golden anniversary as Brunei's Sultan this week in lavish ceremonies in capital Bandar Seri Begawan. He is the 29th Sultan from the royal family, which has ruled the country continuously for over 600 years.
Duterte was among world leaders who graced the event.
“The celebrations were a fitting tribute to a beloved leader who made amity and cooperation a cornerstone of secure and stable relations between nations in Southeast Asia and beyond,” Abella said.
During his visit, Duterte also touched base with leaders from neighboring countries, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.