MALANG, Indonesia – Presumptive Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will go to Indonesia as one of the first countries to visit once he is formally thrust into Malacañang, a national daily newspaper reported here on Tuesday, May 10.
“We see Indonesia as a strategic partner in solving regional problems. Indonesia is the first country that I will visit. I am optimistic that we can work well together with President Jokowi (Widodo),” Duterte told Jawa Pos in an interview on Monday, May 9.
Duterte’s interest to choose Indonesia as one of the first destinations for a state visit comes at a time when both countries face crucial problems such as maritime border security.
In March, 10 Indonesian sailors were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. They were released by thee Islamic militants this month.
As there are four other Indonesians held by the group, Duterte assured that his administration would exhaust their ability to release them.
“Not just the Indonesian hostages, but also those from other countries,” he was quoted as saying.
Indonesia and the Philippines have been constantly renewing their military cooperation, particularly in North Sulawesi and Mindanao to fight terrorist groups known to have been operating in such areas.
For Duterte however, solving terrorism goes beyond guarding the borders.
“The root of the problem is different. There are gaps in history and ideology, so it’s complicated,” Duterte said, adding that he would find time to solve it.
Jawa Pos, a broadsheet based in Surabaya, East Java, described Duterte as the Donald Trump of the East for his unorthodox and controversial statements uttered during campaign sorties. One of them include his promise of intervening on the South China Sea row by driving into the disputed maritime border on a jet ski.
Duterte has consistently led the polls on Monday. Once proclaimed as the winner of this year’s polls, he will become the first candidate from Southern Philippines to win the country’s highest executive position.(davaotoday.com)