Gov’t preparations for ASEAN Summit, state visits of Widodo, Bolkiah in full swing

The Philippine government has stepped up preparations for the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the State Visits of Indonesian President His Excellency Joko Widodo, and His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yan Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in Manila this week.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will chair this year’s 30th ASEAN Summit on April 29 involving the Heads of States/Governments of 10 ASEAN Member States, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Preparatory meetings, involving ASEAN Ministers and Senior Officials, will take place from April 26 to 28.

The 30th ASEAN Summit is the first of two leaders-level meetings that the Philippines will convene this year as Chair of ASEAN. The second one, the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, will be held in November and will be participated in by the ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners, such as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States.

Before the actual Leaders’ meeting on April 29, His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and His Excellency Widodo will hold state visits in the country on April 27 and April 28, respectively.

“Preparations are now in full swing for all activities scheduled [this] week in Manila,” said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement on Sunday.

“The President looks forward to meeting His Majesty the Sultan and President Widodo, respectively, to build on the gains achieved during President Duterte’s visits to Bandar Seri Begawan and Jakarta,” Abella added.

In an earlier press conference in Malacañang, ASEAN 2017 Director-General for Operations Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr. said the agenda for the separate meetings of President Duterte with the two leaders will be specific to issues that relate to both countries.

“For Indonesia I think it will be a follow-up of what President Duterte and President Widodo had talked about in Jakarta when the President went there for a visit. This is a return state visit of President Widodo. And I would imagine that security of our sea lanes, cross-border traffic and patrol, agriculture, I think, may be one of the issues that will be discussed with Indonesia,” Paynor said.

“With Brunei, similar issues that I feel will just be reiterated and perhaps further elucidated,” he added.

Duterte visited Indonesia in September last year as his first-ever state visit as President. He then visited Brunei Darussalam in October also for a state visit.

Paynor said Widodo is also expected to join Duterte in the launch of the Davao-General Santos-Bitung Roll-on Roll-off sea linkage route in Davao City on April 30.

In time for the summit, Malacañang has declared suspension of work in the government sector in the cities of Pasay, Makati, and Manila on April 27 and in government and private sectors in Metro Manila on April 28.###PND