ON his last day at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, President Rodrigo Duterte promised to make the country even more competitive in the region.
The government will also focus on education, with the President suggesting that Filipino school children should learn the basics about cyberspace and digital communications.
“And I will make that mandatory,” he said.
Duterte said the government will also increase infrastructure spending to “realize the ‘Golden Age of Infrastructure’ that will enhance mobility and connectivity.”
There must be an improvement in food security, he said, noting that while the country allocates vast tracts of land for commercial cultivation of crops for the export market, ensuring enough local supply of food must be given priority.
Arriving Sunday from Vietnam, Duterte said he had “most productive” meetings with the leaders of China and Russia, who were also at the Apec summit.
“I took the opportunity to meet my counterparts from many economies. I renewed my friendship with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and with President Xi Jinping of China,” Duterte said upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
Duterte first met with Putin on the sidelines of the Apec Economic Leaders Meeting, where the Russian president vowed to support the country’s fight against terrorism ,which is a common challenge for both countries.
Duterte thanked Putin for Russia’s “timely assistance” in putting an end to the five-month long Marawi crisis.
Before he returned to Manila, Duterte met with President Xi Jinping, lauding him also for China’s assistance in resolving the Marawi siege.
“I see a very bright future for our relationship. Nothing to do with military. I have stated before and I was not lying, I would not entertain talks about military or anything except that I had to thank Mr. Xi Jinping for the timely and crucial help that he extended to our country when we were fighting the siege of Marawi,” he said.
China donated firearms and committed financial support for the rehabilitation of Marawi and for state troops who fought Islamic State-inspired terrorists.
Russia also gave the Philippines firearms and other military equipment.
Duterte said the issue on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea was discussed noting that the Chinese President expressed willingness to hold a summit or a multilateral dialogue to tackle the matter.
“President Xi Jinping mentioned about a summit or a meeting, multilateral only to talk about the rules of conduct. It has nothing to do with sovereignty,” he said.
He added that China made the assurance that it would not impede the freedom of navigation in the disputed sea.
He said he believed that the tensions in the South China Sea would not escalate into war, saying that China also could not afford to put the lives of its people in danger.
“He knows that if he goes to war, everything will blow up. He acknowledged that war cannot be promoted by anybody, but it would only mean destruction for all of us,” he said.
The two leaders also discussed North Korea.
“At this time when everybody has in his pocket a large number of nuclear arms, China, America, Russia, Iran, North Korea, it is not a good time to talk about a quarrel,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he assured Xi that his friendship with him would remain “warm and robust.”
On Sunday, Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said the country would receive even bigger investments after an independent pollster said he was the most trusted Philippine president in the last 20 years. With Rio N. Araja
“Investor confidence in the Philippines just went through the roof. And with the Association of Southeast Asian Summit, we can expect the country to receive a tidal wave of foreign investments and financial packages that otherwise would have not been offered to us with a different president,” he said.
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