Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace
January 16, 2019

Marking the 58th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between the Philippines and Sri Lanka, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte hosted a state banquet in honor of President Maithripala Sirisena of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace.

In his toast remarks, President Duterte conveyed his positive outlook for the future, as both countries aim to reinvigorate diplomatic ties through the signing and exchange of several agreements prior to the state banquet.

“As we look back on our shared past, we look forward to a future of significant broadening and deepening of our ties; in trade and investments; defense and security; agriculture; tourism; education; culture; and people-to-people exchanges,” the President said.

“I firmly believe that, with the shared commitment expressed earlier today, we are well on our path to greater reality of these goals,” he added.

In response, President Sirisena described his initial impression of the Philippines, drawing comparison to Sri Lanka as a home to a diverse culture.

“Both our countries are home to rich traditions of democracy; we are blessed with rich cultural and religious diversities of ethnicities, languages and religions which enrich our societies and our lives,” President Sirisena said.

Facing similar challenges in his country, the Sri Lankan leader gave emphasis on President Duterte’s campaign against crime and illegal drugs, which he defined as an “example to the whole world”.

“Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard,” President Sirisena said, ending his remarks with an invitation to President Duterte for a state visit in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan President is on his first State Visit to the Philippines from 15-19 January 2019, with scheduled trips to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna.

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