MANILA, Philippines – Indian President Ram Nath Kovind arrived in the Philippines on Thursday, October 17, kicking off his 5-day state visit which includes a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Kovind's plane landed past 5 pm at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday.
His official activities begin the following day, Friday, October 18, when he heads to Malacañang to meet with Duterte. Duterte himself had visited India in January 2018 to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attend a regional summit.
Kovind's first engagement on Friday is to lay a wreath at the foot of the Rizal monument in Luneta, a tradition for all visiting dignitaries. From there, he would proceed to Malacañang.
After an official welcome ceremony and signing of the Palace guestbook, Kovind and Duterte will lead an expanded bilateral meeting. The meeting will be attended by Cabinet members and Indian officials.
The two presidents will then witness the exchange of agreements signed between their two governments after which they will face the media to issue a joint press statement.
In the evening, Duterte will host a state banquet for Kovind, also in the Palace.
Meeting with Filipino amputees
On Saturday, October 19, Kovind will spend the morning with beneficiaries of health initiatives. He'll first meet with liver transplant patients at the Shangri-la Hotel.
He will also meet with Filipino amputees who were provided prosthetic limbs for free by the Mahaveer Philippines Foundation, which last year got a $200,000 grant from the Indian government.
The grant was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the Philippines in 2017 to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summits.
The funds were used to provide prosthetic limbs developed in India, called the Jaipur foot, to poor Filipinos. Among those who received the prosthetics were 14 soldiers wounded in the 2017 Marawi siege.
On Saturday night, President Kovind will address the Philippines-India Business Conclave and 4th ASEAN India Business Summit at the Shangri-la Hotel.
Commemorating Mahatma Gandhi
On Sunday, Kovind's last full day in Metro Manila, he will be at Miriam College to unveil the first bust of Indian peace icon Mahatma Gandhi in the Philippines.
The bronze bust commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, known as the Father of the Indian Nation and a global icon for nonviolence. The ceremony also celebrates 70 years of Indian-Philippine diplomatic relations.
Kovind's last official engagement in Metro Manila is a meeting with members of the Indian community based in the Philippines.
He departs for Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, October 21. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.