The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must collaborate closely to mitigate disaster risks as a result of climate change and demand accountability from developed nations fueling the rise in global temperatures to the detriment of poor and developing countries, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Thursday.
In his speech at the Plenary Session of the 37th ASEAN Summit, President Duterte said the Philippines was battered by successive typhoons that hit the country recently leaving tremendous devastation in affected communities.
The country is now suffering from the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses, he told his fellow ASEAN leaders.
“This calamity is yet another stark reminder of the urgency of collective action to combat the effects of climate change. We must therefore further enhance our cooperation on disaster risk reduction management to reinforce our capacities, both at the national and regional levels,” he said.
“More importantly, we must amplify our voices to demand climate justice from those most responsible for this existential challenge we face today. Developed countries must lead in deep and drastic cuts in carbon emissions. They must act now, or it would be too late. Or if I may say addedly, it is too late.”
Wealthy countries must deliver on their commitment to finance and invest in innovative adaptation solutions in the developing world so that poor and developing nations can have a fair shot at progress and sustainable development, the President said.
Not honoring their commitment would be a great injustice, President Duterte said, noting its “a double blow to those who bear the brunt of the adverse consequences of their past actions and present inactions.”
The President also delved on the region’s peace and security agenda and has called on other ASEAN members countries to embrace neutrality in the current geopolitical landscape that creates challenges to the bloc’s centrality.
“As we chart our Community’s post-2025 future, it is crucial that we consolidate ASEAN’s position in the evolving regional order,” he stressed.
“Dictated by zero-sum logic, external powers will continue to maneuver to get us to choose camps. And this we must resist – consistently and firmly.”
Peace and stability can only be ensured by an open and inclusive order, where ASEAN remains the fulcrum of regional security processes and mechanisms, he added.
The South China Sea issue posed as ASEAN’s strategic challenge, according to the President.
How the ASEAN deals with the issue lays bare the regional grouping’s strengths and weaknesses as a community, President Duterte argued. He called on its members to act with urgency.
“The Philippine position is clear and firm. We must solve the disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS,” he noted.
“The 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea is an authoritative interpretation of the application of UNCLOS. It is now part of international law. And its significance cannot be diminished nor ignored by any country, however big and powerful.”
The Philippines supports ASEAN in transforming the South China Sea into a sea of peace and prosperity for all, he said, urging stakeholders to immediately conclude an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
The President also congratulated Viet Nam for its responsive ASEAN chairmanship, adding that despite a challenging year, Vietnam’s hosting produced significant outcomes. PND