President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Sunday reiterated his call for immediate conclusion of a binding code of conduct in the South China Sea to build trust and confidence, as well as to ensure regional peace and stability.
The President returned to Manila Sunday night from his successful participation in the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
As country coordinator of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations, the President expressed grave concern over activities in the South China Sea that he said erode trust and confidence and undermine peace and stability in the region.
Delays in the negotiations for a substantive and effective code of conduct are detrimental to the region, he said.
He urged ASEAN and China to act quickly, noting that “the faster we finish the process, the more credible ASEAN and China will be as partners for security and stability.”
At the same time, President Duterte called for the effective implementation of international instruments, such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to create a conducive environment for negotiations and maintain peace and stability.
The President conveyed his gratitude to the captain and crew of the Vietnamese fishing vessel who saved Filipino fishermen near Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea last week.
In the midst of profound geopolitical shifts, the President called on ASEAN to be the voice of reason and moderation in the region, protecting time-honored principles of international law.
During his participation in the summit, President Duterte expressed concern on the impact of the ongoing US-China trade war on global growth and economic integration. He urged both sides to resolve their differences and pressed ASEAN to strengthen its commitment to a rules-based multilateral trading system.
The President also highlighted the need for the ASEAN to intensify cooperation in addressing non-traditional security threats, such as terrorism, violent extremism, transnational crimes, illegal drugs, and climate change, stressing heavy polluters must be held to account.
The President also pushed for enhanced regional efforts to combat marine debris and prevent the export of garbage to ASEAN countries.
At the conclusion of the summit, ASEAN leaders adopted four important documents: the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019, and the Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris in ASEAN Region.
President Duterte’s other meetings
On the sidelines of the summit, President Duterte joined other leaders at the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.
They agreed to promote greater connectivity to facilitate cross-border trade and narrow development gap as well as enhance military and police cooperation to address terrorism and piracy in the high seas.
President Duterte also held bilateral meetings with Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to strengthen bilateral relations.
Presidents Duterte and Widodo lauded the completion of the two countries’ respective domestic requirements for the entry into force of the Philippines-Indonesia Agreement Concerning the Delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone Boundary.
Also part of the President’s schedule was meeting Thai chief executive officers (CEOs) to invite them to invest in the Philippines. Among the new industrial centers outside Metro Manila he offered to Thai investors were those in Clark, Cebu, Bohol, and Davao. PND