By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday renewed the Philippines’ “strong and sincere” friendship with Malaysia.

In his toast remarks during the official dinner hosted for Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, Marcos said the Malaysian leader’s visit to Manila is a reaffirmation of the two nations’ commitment to strengthen their bilateral ties.

“Mr. Prime Minister, the Philippines and the Filipinos were there for you during some of your darkest days. Let me assure you now that this sincere and tested friendship has remained strong throughout the decades,” Marcos said in a speech delivered at the Ceremonial Hall of the Malacañan Palace in Manila on Wednesday night.

“I further express my hope that this warm kinship between us as leaders will set the tone of the bilateral relations between our governments, countries, and peoples, in the years to come,” he added.

Marcos expressed optimism that the long-standing friendship between Manila and Kuala Lumpur would enable them to surpass the present and future challenges, which include “geopolitical upheavals, supply disruptions, and inflation.”

He was elated that his meeting with Anwar led to the commitment to bolster the two countries’ cooperation in key areas, including trade and investment.

He said he is also looking forward to working with Malaysia in reclaiming the growth that the two nations had lost to the pandemic.

“The past few years have been difficult for us. Our nations and the global community were beset by a pandemic of unprecedented proportions. It challenged our national capabilities and our resolve,” Marcos said. “I view this visit as a reaffirmation of our shared commitment to revitalize our bilateral relations. And before us lays the immense potential in the areas of trade and investment.”

Marcos also wished Malaysia a “continued success and prosperity.”

Marcos and Anwar first met in 2018. However, this is their first meeting as state leaders.

Anwar is Marcos’ first official guest, highlighting the importance of Malaysia as the country’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) neighbor.

Aside from being ASEAN founding members, the two countries have rich bilateral ties and history, boasting almost six decades of friendship with interactions between their peoples dating back millennia.

Malaysia and the Philippines have engaged in collaborative initiatives for a peaceful and more secure region by conducting joint patrols to combat transnational crimes in the seas.

Malaysia also acted as third party facilitator in the Philippine government’s peace process with Muslim separatists in Mindanao, which has contributed to significant progress in the peace and stability in the south. (PNA)