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A four-man Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) delegation left for Pyongyang on a first-ever visit by a Philippine political party to the North Korean capital, launching a historic direct party-to-party contact with the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

Senator Koko Pimentel III, PDP Laban National President, described the three-day mission to the reclusive state as “the historic starting point of a new dynamic relationship with the Workers’ Party of Korea.”

The delegation is composed of former Eastern Samar Gov. Lutgardo Barbo, PDP Laban Vice President for Visayas; Ronwald Munsayac, Chairman of the PDP Laban Public Information Committee; Raymundo Roquero, Vice Chairman of the Public Information Committee; and Evan Rebadulla,

The delegation is composed of former Eastern Samar Gov. Lutgardo Barbo, PDP Laban Vice President for Visayas; Ronwald Munsayac, Chairman of the PDP Laban Public Information Committee; Raymundo Roquero, Vice Chairman of the Public Information Committee; and Evan Rebadulla.

A series of meetings with WPK Central Committee officials make up the team’s full schedule from July 18 to 20.

The Philippines was among the first country in the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) to have established diplomatic ties with North Korea when it was still ruled by Kim Jong-il, the father of current North Korean Supreme Leader and WPK Chairman Kim Jong-un.

The PDP Laban trip was arranged as early as one year ago following months of correspondence between WPK Vice Chairman and head of the International Department Ri Su Yong and Secretary Raul L. Lambino, PDP Laban Vice President for International Affairs.

The PDP Laban trip was arranged as early as a year ago following months of correspondences between WPK Vice Chairman and head of the International Department Ri Su Yong and Secretary Raul Lambino, PDP Laban Vice President for International Affairs.

“This is strictly a party-to-party diplomacy. The invitation was extended to us months ago, and we feel that this visit could not have come at a better time,” said Lambino, who was recently named by President Rodrigo Duterte, PDP Laban National Chairman, as Presidential Adviser for Northern Luzon in concurrent capacity as Administrator/CEO of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

“We are hoping that this ground-breaking initiative will open new doors for further talks, and new opportunities for a more meaningful relationship between our two peoples,” he said.

The highlight of the visit, Lambino said, is the signing by both parties of a memorandum of understanding “affirming their friendship and promoting greater understanding and more meaningful party-to-party talks in the future”.

Both parties have expressed in their previous correspondence a “mutual desire for a wider, stronger and sustained relationship as we face new realities in East Asia and Southeast Asia”, Lambino said.

He said PDP Laban “is elated by the enthusiasm shown by the Workers’ Party of Korea to our visit”.

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