Duterte-Sultan Bolkiah meeting

Promoting close ties and cooperation with immediate neighbors is a sound foreign policy. Its should be pursued and sustained in both its long and short term considerations. There is nothing to lose but more to gain.

Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia are our closest neighbors. All three states also belong to the great Malay race. More importantly, the three states are deeply involved in the resolution of the conflict in Mindanao.  Of course, their participation are upon the invitations of the MILF and the Philippine government. 

We expect -- and hope -- that President Rodrigo Duterte should take the occasion to thank the Brunei sultan for their contribution to the peace process in Mindanao.  Brunei is a member of the Malaysian-led

International Monitoring Team (IMT) that monitors the ceasefire between the MILF and the government, as well as in the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) that oversees the decommissioning of MILF weapons and combatants and put them (weapons) beyond use.  

 In these contexts, we appreciate very much the decision of President Duterte to visit Brunei to meet with Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. The Philippines will reap many good things from this close ties. Although Brunei is a small state of less than half a million population, but it is extremely wealthy.  It can invest anywhere in the Philippines especially in Davao City, the hometown of the President. 

 Our only regret is that the chairperson of the Lower House Committee on BIMP-EAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asia Growth Areas) is not assigned to a Moro legislator. It could have been better if a Muslim lawmaker got the chairmanship for several reasons. One is that Moro provinces deserved immediate intervention in terms of development, because they are the most depressed areas in

the country. Even the halal industry is not lodged with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) but to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Who knows what is halal more than a Muslim?

The word halal, in Arabic, means permitted or lawful. Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines. According to these guidelines that were gathered from the Qu'ran, Muslim followers cannot consume the following foods: Pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly or not slaughtered in the name of Allah, blood and blood by products, alcohol, carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and land animals without external ears.

Von voyage Mr. President!