President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday highlighted the need for stronger regional economic partnerships as countries in Asia gear toward recovery following a crippling coronavirus pandemic.
“We have all made significant headways in containing the pandemic. Now, we must rebuild our economies and make up lost ground,” President Duterte said in his intervention during his virtual participation to the 24th Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China (ASEAN-China) Summit.
“Connectivity and robust trade will be the key motors of our recovery. It is thus vital that we fast track efforts to synergize the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 with the Belt and Road Initiative.”
“We must also hasten work towards the immediate entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.”
He thanked China for its support to the bloc’s pandemic response, including the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
While some countries stockpiled life-saving vaccines, he said China quickly came to ASEAN’s aid, demonstrating its commitment to make vaccines global public goods.
Also during his intervention, the Philippine leader raised the issue of warming climate, which affects developing coastal countries like the Philippines.
And as nations prepare the upcoming COP26, he reiterated the region’s call for urgent climate action and also welcomed China’s pledge to halt funding overseas coal plants and its shift towards clean renewable energy.
He also pushed for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment as well as address marine debris and transboundary pollution.
There’s also a need, he said, to ramp up efforts to fight against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, noting these are crucial to achieve food security and to mitigate global warming.
To maintain regional peace and stability particularly in the South China Sea, nations must adhere to peaceful resolution of disputes by following rules-based order, he said.
“The 2016 Arbitral Award is a significant contribution to the corpus of international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS. It singles out no one,” he pointed out.
“Rather, it justly favors and benefits the community of law-abiding nations by providing clarity to all. This clarity – which is beyond compromise – is the Philippines’ humble contribution to the international legal order.”
Claimants must also uphold the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and adhere to freedom of navigation and overflight, exercise self-restraint, and protect the marine environment as stipulated in UNCLOS.
“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” the President said.
The Philippines remains committed to the conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, he said, adding the country has contributed to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text despite difficult circumstances. PND