CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga — Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hosted on Saturday a welcome dinner for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi here just before the three-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
The leaders landed at the Clark International Airport early in the afternoon and the first to arrive for the 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits to be held in different venues in Manila.
The dinner, held at the Midori Hotel and Casino, started at around 7:30 p.m.
In a rare public speech as Pampanga representative, Arroyo lauded the Philippines’ deepening relations with Cambodia and Myanmar.
“It is an auspicious time for the Philippine-Cambodia and Philippine-Myanmar ties as we’re on the heel of celebrating the 60th anniversary of the formal establishment of our bilateral relations,” Arroyo said in her toast to the leaders.
The former president, a key ally of the Duterte administration, cited the four bilateral agreements with Cambodia on anti-transnational crime, tourism, labor protection, and sports, which was inked during President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit last year.
She also mentioned a number of Filipino companies now operating in Cambodia, including San Miguel Corp., Liwayway Foods, Davies Paint, and Penshoppe.
Meanwhile, Arroyo cited the memorandum of agreement forged between the Philippines and Myanmar on food security and agriculture and the $300,000 aid given by Duterte for the Rakhine state, which was plagued by issues of serious human rights violations.
The gathering was attended by ranking government officials, among them Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade; Interior Undersecretary Catalino Cuy (officer in charge of the Department of the Interior and Local Government), and special assistant to the president Christopher “Bong” Go, who came straight from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam.
Other officials who graced the event included two Arroyo allies – Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay and former presidential chief of staff Mike Defensor.
Local officials were also present, including Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda, and Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan.
Actress Marian Rivera and her husband, Dingdong Dantes, were also at the event on the invitation of the Cambodian prime minister.
The actress became popular in Cambodia through her series “Marimar” and “Amaya.” /atm
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