Duterte leaves for private Malaysia trip

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte left for Malaysia past 6 pm Saturday, July 14, for a "private trip" that will mix business with pleasure.

Malacañang earlier said that Duterte will head to Kuala Lumpur to watch Senator Manny Pacquiao's boxing match with Argentine boxer Lucas Matthysse on Sunday, July 15.

Duterte is then set to meet Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday, July 16.

Malacañang's rhetoric towards Mahathir is friendly so far, calling Malaysia "a brother nation and dependable partner" when it sent its congratulations to the new leader in May.

"We are thus confident that the strong partnership between our countries would continue to be enhanced in the years to come," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said then.

When he was in the Philippines in October last year for the ASEAN Leaders' Forum, Mahathir said the rule of law must prevail in implementing Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

The 92-year-old Mahathir is the world's oldest elected leader, who previously led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, making him the longest serving prime minister of Malaysia.

Aside from Roque, other members of Duterte's delegation to Malaysia include Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr, Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go. 

Malaysia served as a third party facilitator for the Philippine government's peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front under the administrations of then Philippine president Benigno Aquino III and then Prime Minister Najib Razak.  The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is the culimination of that peace deal. – Rappler.com