ON SEPTEMBER 10 and 11, Singaporean President Halima Yacob visited Davao City as part of her official trip to the Philippines to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the Philippines.
According to the September 7 advisory of the Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Yacob will visit the Philippine Eagle Center and engage in a dialogue session with youths at the Ateneo de Davao University’s Al Qalam Institute for Islamic Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia to share about Singapore’s experiences in fostering interfaith harmony and social cohesion.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio hosted a dinner for Yacob on September 10, 2019 at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao.
For the Philippines, the visit of Yacob strengthens the ties between the two countries. But her visit to Davao City is beyond merely a simple visit and having dialogues here and there.
Yacob is the third head of state to set foot in Davao City since then mayor Rodrigo Duterte became President of the Philippines in 2016.
The first to visit Davao City was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in January 2017 as part of his official state visit to the Philippines. The next was Indonesian President Joko Widodo who was in Davao City in April 2017 for the launching of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung shipping route.
What makes Yacob’s visit significant is she came to Davao City despite Mindanao being under martial law. She also came during a time after bombings happened in Sulu and Isulan. Those incidents could have caused her to cancel her short trip to Davao City.
We may be reading too much about her visit. However, her visit here could be a testament of the confidence to the law and order situation in this part of Mindanao.
Threats may continue to hound Davao City considering this is the home of the President and he comes home regularly. But the security forces in the city have proven they can keep the city safe to the best of their abilities.
Maybe it is really time for the national government to reconsider martial law in this portion of Mindanao. If the government does not want to lift martial law for the whole island, maybe it ccan start by lifting martial law first in Davao City or Davao Region and other areas with good law and order situation.
Yacob also signifies the growing foreign interest in Davao City. This affirms the city’s potential to become a global city like that of Metro Manila and Metro Cebu. Her visit here could be a catalyst in the entry of more foreign investors not only in Davao City but in Davao Region, too.
Singaporean President Yacob visited the Philippines to further strengthen the ties between the two nations and her visit to Davao City, on the other hand, bodes well for the city and its neighboring areas.