Sri Lanka President leaves PH after 5-day state visit


President Rodrigo Duterte and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena offer a toast to each other during the State Banquet in honor of the visiting head of state at Malacañang Palace, Jan. 16, 2019. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo

MANILA- (UPDATE) Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena left the Philippines on Saturday afternoon after a five-day state visit, a first for a sitting Sri Lankan head of state in the country.

Sirisena left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 2 p.m.

Prior to his flight, the Sri Lankan leader was given departure honors by members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.

Sirisena arrived in Manila on Tuesday night and met with Duterte at Malacañang on Wednesday, where the two sides vowed to boost ties.

During the Sri Lankan leader’s historic visit, the two leaders signed five agreements, including pacts on agriculture, education cooperation and military exchanges.

“We have agreed on several concrete initiatives to deepen our relations. Along with President Duterte, I and my Government will ensure that these initiatives will be implemented in order to harness the maximum [benefit for] people of both countries,” Sirisena said during their meeting.

Sirisena also hailed President Duterte’s drug war, saying the campaign is a personal example to him.

“Excellency, the war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me. Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard,” he said.

Before his departure, the Sri Lanka President met with police officials at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City for a briefing on the Philippines’ war against drugs.

His visit marks the first time a foreign head of state set foot at the police camp.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Sirisena’s visit to the headquarters was “fruitful and productive.”

“He [Sirisena] said ‘we have the same problem.’ He did not specify kung gaano ka-severe ang problema nila sa drugs sa bansa nila (how severe their drug problem is),” Albayalde told reporters.

It can be recalled that the Sri Lankan government last year said it would “replicate the success” of the Philippines’ drug war.

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