By Genalyn D. Kabiling
SEOUL – As part of the government’s cost-saving efforts, President Duterte is expected to take a commercial flight for his three-day official visit to South Korea starting today.
The President is scheduled depart Manila early this morning aboard Philippine Airlines Flight PR 466 for a four-hour trip to Seoul. This will be Duterte’s first official visit to South Korea since 2016 upon the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.
In his visit to Singapore last April, Duterte tried to save government funds by taking a small private aircraft and bringing a small delegation. The government previously tapped chartered planes for the President’s other foreign travels.
Based on his official schedule, the President’s first public engagement will be a meeting with the Filipino community at the Grand Hilton Hotel and Convention Center here this afternoon.
Around 68,000 Filipinos are currently working and living in South Korea. Many of the Filipinos in South Korea are students, professionals, missionaries, and spouses of Koreans. Seoul is one hour ahead of Manila.
Duterte is scheduled to hold talks with his South Korean counterpart at the Blue House, the executive office and official residence of Moon today.
The two leaders are expected to tackle areas of cooperation on agriculture, environment, and protection of nationals, among others, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
After the meeting, they are expected to witness the signing of four bilateral agreements on transportation, technology, infrastructure, and trade cooperation.
One of the agreements will be the $172.64-million loan agreement for the new Cebu international container port between the Department of Finance and the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
Moon is expected to host a dinner for the visiting Philippine leader and his delegation at the State Guest House tomorrow night.
On Tuesday, the President is expected to invite Korean business community to invest in the Philippines during a business forum at the Lotte Hotel. A number of private business deals are expected to be sealed during Duterte’s visit.
He will also attend the Philippine Food Festival at the E-MART headquarters on Tuesday night before flying back to the country. It is still unclear whether or not Duterte will fly back to Manila or his hometown Davao City.