What to expect from Duterte's Thailand visit
BANGKOK, Thailand – President Rodrigo Duterte's plane arrived at Bangkok's military airport at 10:47 pm on Monday, March 20, kicking off his official visit to Thailand.
This country of golden temples and floating markets is the President's last stop in his tour of Southeast Asian countries, which began in Laos in September 2016.
It will be Duterte's second visit to Thailand as Philippine chief. He had a brief visit to the country in November last year to pay respects after the death of Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
What can we expect from March 21 to 22, the two full days Duterte will spend in Bangkok?
Schedule of events
His official events on Tuesday, March 21, begin with the 4:30 pm welcome ceremony at Thailand's Government House where he will meet Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, members of the Thai Cabinet, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Duterte will sign the guestbook prior to a "restricted meeting" with Prayut. The meeting has been labeled as not for coverage, and restricted even to close-in government media.
After the meeting, Thai ministers and Philippine Cabinet officials will join the two leaders in an expanded bilateral meeting.
The two leaders will then give a joint press statement.
With the official meetings wrapped up, Duterte will get a chance to enjoy Thai culture. A viewing of Thai handicrafts with the Prime Minister has been scheduled, to be followed by an official dinner hosted in the Philippine president's honor.
Duterte's 2nd full day will be devoted to meeting the private sector.
He will meet with representatives of Thai agri-industrial and food conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Public Company Limited and then participate in a roundtable discussion with Thai business groups hosted by Invest Philippines.
His last event in Bangkok is a meeting with the Filipino community of Thailand. Around 1,900 Filipinos have registered for the event, according to the Philippine embassy.
From there, he will head to the airport for his flight to Manila. He is expected to arrive past 1 am on Thursday, March 23.
Priority topics for discussion
The Thai government said security issues will be a priority topic during the official meetings of Duterte, Prayut, and their Cabinet.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Thai government expects leaders of the two countries to discuss the fight against illegal drugs, the conflict in Mindanao, and cooperation between government intelligence agencies.
The Philippines and Thailand are also expected to ink 3 deals: a 5-year tourism development plan, an agreement on science and technology, and an agreement on dairy production.
Concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will also be on the agenda, given the Philippines' chairmanship of the regional bloc this year.
Duterte's official delegation includes 9 Cabinet members and two senators. They are:
- Acting Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo
- Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III
- Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana
- Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez
- Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol
- Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo
- Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña
- National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr
- Communications Secretary Martin Andanar
- Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III
- Senator Alan Peter Cayetano
- Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon
- Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña
- Philippine Carabao Center Executive Director Arnel del Barrio