BUSAN, South Korea—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday welcomed President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy, describing it as a timely and forward-looking initiative that complements the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Vision 2025.
In his intervention during the first session of the 2019 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit, President Duterte said their task as leaders is to build synergies between the two distinct and related visions.
The President then outlined his domestic priorities that include fighting transnational crimes, which he said threaten societies across the globe.
Criminal networks rake in billions of dollars annually through illicit drugs and human trafficking, cybercrime, and other forms of criminal activities, he said, suggesting that the ASEAN and Korea must sustain cooperation, particularly in terms of exchange of information and intelligence to combat the problem.
The Philippines’ experience in Marawi City is also a wake up call, he said, stressing terrorism knows no borders. He then called for a greater collective action to combat this threat by addressing its root causes that include underdevelopment, inequality, and historical injustices. Cooperation should focus on capacity-building, he noted.
The region’s problem with marine debris is also becoming serious, according to the President. “We need stronger political resolve to address this issue. It threatens our marine resources and, ultimately, our food security.”
Climate change is also another challenge raised by the President during the summit, which is already affecting nations especially those in the developing world.
Recognizing the Republic of Korea’s technological advances and expertise in smart city development, President Duterte said, the Philippines wants to work with the Asian neighbor to build communities that are not only economically vibrant, but also resilient to extreme weather disturbances.
“Relatedly, we also look forward to closer cooperation in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief or the HADR,” he said. “We want to enhance our capabilities to respond to crisis and rebuild communities given our high vulnerability to natural disasters.”
The President also mentioned the unfolding technological revolution, saying it presents both opportunities and challenges. He welcomed Korea’s readiness to help the Philippines harness the benefits of innovations in ICT, e-commerce, and cybersecurity, among others.
“These are crucial issues and areas of concern where we can and must work even closer together. The Philippines is confident that, with the Vision Statement we will adopt today, ASEAN and the Republic of Korea will be in a stronger position to pursue lasting peace and shared prosperity for our peoples.”
Korea’s role in ASEAN connectivity
In the second session of the summit, President Duterte expressed elation over the Republic of Korea’s interest to work with ASEAN countries in enhancing connectivity under its New Southern Policy.
He said he looks forward to the establishment of the ASEAN-Korea Infrastructure Fund in 2022.
The Philippine leader also reaffirmed his country’s resolve to fully implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. And in line with commitments embodied in the documents agreed in Thailand, he said the Philippines is ready for collaborative initiatives in many key areas.
One is sustainable urban development. He noted that the Philippines, as an emerging economy, experiences rapid urbanization.
“This is progress that comes with a set of challenges in infrastructure and delivery of basic services. Through the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), we would like to learn from Korea’s best practices and innovations in smart city development.”
Recognizing Korea as ASEAN’s reliable and valuable partner, the President said, “I am confident that the next 30 years will be even more productive for us. We look forward to further deepen our partnership as we prosper each other and building lasting peace for our peoples on the basis of friendship and mutual respect.” PND