Duterte plans to discuss sea piracy with Najib, Jokowi

MANILA • After trips in rapid succession to China, Brunei and Japan, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is now preparing for a state visit to Malaysia to talk about ways to end piracy in the Strait of Malacca.

Mr Duterte, who continues to rail against the United States and other critics of his drug war, said he will complete his tour with a visit to Malaysia because it was "one of the only countries" that mattered to him.

"That's why, after this, I'm going to Malaysia to complete my tour, because these are the only countries that matter to me," he told reporters at a press conference after returning to the Philippines from a three-day trip to Japan.

He said he looked forward to talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to do something about piracy in the Malacca Strait because "there is this piracy going on every now and then. It puts to shame everybody".

He also indicated that he planned to broach the subject with President Joko Widodo, having already discussed security issues with the Indonesian leader during a visit to the neighbouring country last month.

Mr Duterte hinted that he will adopt a hardline stance in dealing with piracy - similar to the way he has been dealing with illegal drugs in the Philippines - and he hoped that the other two countries would adopt a similar position.

"It is a high time to talk to Widodo and probably Najib, we have to do something about it," said Mr Duterte.

He hinted that he will adopt a hardline stance in dealing with piracy - similar to the way he has been dealing with illegal drugs in the Philippines - and he hoped that the other two countries would adopt a similar position.

"For Malaysia, I don't know the standard, but Indonesia (and the Philippines), we are hardliners for anything that creates an outrage in a human being," he said.

The countries share maritime borders that have been under the threat of extremist groups like the Abu Sayyaf, which have staged a series of abductions of boat crew members for ransom.

Earlier this month, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia had reached an agreement to jointly conduct air patrols, with a view to bolster maritime security in the region.

Dates for Mr Duterte's Malaysia visit are yet to be fixed.

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte plans to discuss sea piracy with Najib, Jokowi'. Print Edition | Subscribe