President Rodrigo Duterte attended on Thursday, October 19, the High-Level Forum on ASEAN at 50, recognizing its contribution to regional development.
“I wish to thank the organizers of this High-Level Forum on ASEAN at 50 for inviting me to this very meaningful gathering,” President Duterte said in a speech before the forum’s participants.
He said the discussions by ASEAN’s eminent leaders have substantial contributions to the development of their respective nations and the growth of the ASEAN community and the realization of a common vision and the identity of the region.
The ASEAN has also served a major role in ensuring stability and security in Asia as evidenced by its success in the past 50 years, President Duterte said.
According to the President, the recent developments in the Korean Peninsula have tested ASEAN’s resolve to keep the peace and ensure the security of the region.
“That is why we remain committed in working closely with our international partners in maintaining stability in the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
On the economic front, the regional bloc continues to work towards bigger, more open and rules-based market where businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, can thrive, he said.
Duterte said when the Leaders of ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners meet in November for the 31st ASEAN Summit, they will reaffirm commitment to maintain regional peace and stability, pursue maritime security and cooperation, advance inclusive innovation-led growth, strengthen the region’s resiliency, and promote ASEAN as a global player and a model of regionalism.
At the same time, they want to see substantial progress in negotiations for the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, he said.
As the Philippines completes its duty as Chair of ASEAN, Duterte said, “It is our shared hope [that] our gains will become part of our continuing commitment to ASEAN and the principles for which it stands for.”
“I therefore call on our fellow ASEAN leaders to empower our peoples by making them understand the importance of ASEAN in their lives, [how] its past gains have directly contributed to their well-being, and how the realization of its goals will make their lives better.”
The President also called for greater cooperation between ASEAN member countries as well as improvements on trade.
He said that ASEAN could learn from other regional grouping such as the EU, stressing if the EU could do it, why couldn’t the ASEAN.
He therefore said that barriers on trade must be addressed, citing hurdles imposed by the European and the American markets on ASEAN products.
“I dream of a time when we can treat the other countries or the cartel of other nations equally on our own terms also. I hope that ASEAN will grow strong and solve the problems — the serious problems confronting us,” he said.
The South China Sea must also be tackled but must be resolved through peaceful means.
Another concern that the President mentioned is the rampant piracy and terrorism in the Malacca Strait, noting its impact on regional trade.
He suggested imposing drastic action for a very dangerous situation.
“I hope to talk with the leaders of these countries and we’re willing to put our resources together with theirs to find a solution,” President Duterte added.
Prior to his attendance to the High Level Forum on ASEAN, the President met former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who were former ASEAN leaders.
Also present were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, and Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap. ###PND