Malacañang on Thursday, November 16, extended its gratitude to all Filipinos for their contribution to the “tremendous success” of the Philippines’ hosting of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a press briefing, said the country’s Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017 was generally peaceful, orderly, and fruitful, owing to the Filipino people’s support and cooperation.
“We’d like to thank everyone, most especially the Filipino people, for the support and cooperation [in] making this event peaceful, orderly, fruitful, and very much a success,” Roque said.
He stressed that the success of the momentous event is indicative of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s ability to lead the country towards global recognition.
“The world community now recognizes not only the fact that the Philippine President is not just the President of the Philippines, a leader of Southeast Asia, but a recognized leader in the international community,” the Spokesperson said.
“And they have also given notice that the Philippines is able to competently host a bidding, a meeting of this scale and scope. And the fact that there was no untoward incident proves that the Philippines is safe to visit,” he added.
This year’s ASEAN Summit also set in motion a number of constructive negotiations among ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners, the Cabinet official noted.
For one, Roque cited discussions during the Summit, which led to an agreement between ASEAN and China to start formal talks on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the West Philippine Sea. The talks are set to commence early next year, he announced.
Roque described this as a “milestone agreement,” stressing that this was the first time claimant countries have agreed to start formal discussions on a CoC that is expected to be legally binding.
“I think all the parties want it to be somehow legally binding. Otherwise, if it’s merely aspirational,” Roque said. “I think that was a priority of the President because unless it becomes legally binding, we would not achieve the kind of predictability that all the countries want in order to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he added.
Roque further said that there is now easing of tensions in the disputed territories due to the countries’ willingness to adopt a more peaceful resolution to the conflict.
The Philippines for its part remains open to conducting bilateral talks with other claimant states, including China, the Spokesperson noted.
“President Duterte has been consistent that he is open to bilateral talks as far as resolving the conflict is concerned. He has said it time and again that he does not see any utility in talking to third parties who are not parties to the conflict,” Roque said. ###PCO-Content