President Rodrigo Duterte graced the 50th Anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Tuesday, August 8.
In his keynote speech, President Duterte called on the 10 ASEAN member states to remain united in building a stronger and a more peaceful and secure region.
“As we stand at the center of the future of the Asia-Pacific region, we remember our responsibility to fully realize the dreams and aspirations for our peoples. We want a region that is secure — where our peoples can live without fear from lawless elements and the debilitating effects of corruption and transnational crimes,” Duterte said.
“We want a region that is stable — where democratic institutions work, where nations regard each other with mutual respect and understanding, and where the rule of law reigns supreme in the relations between states,” he added.
“We want a region that is sustainable and inclusive in its growth — where no one is left behind and everyone has the opportunity to realize their potentials,” he further said.
The Chief Executive noted that the ASEAN’s principles of non-interference and consensus based decision-making process are among the factors that propelled the region towards greater peace, progress and prosperity.
“We are stronger, more vibrant, and more robust as [an] ASEAN Community. Today – 50 years hence – we remain firmly convinced that we will prevail against the new and emerging challenges we now face as an ASEAN Community,” he said.
“We proved that [what] we share [is] more valuable than our differences. We proved that our diversity is a strength rather than a weakness. We proved that regionalism – developed at our own pace and under our own terms and with our values – can work,” he added.
In celebration of ASEAN’s milestone year, the President paid tribute to the founding fathers of the regional bloc as he applauded their wisdom and vision that started the association and drew its peoples closer together.
“They were convinced that by transformative powers of cooperation and dialogue, that they were also [aware] of the need to protect our nations [from] the effects of regional and global geopolitical shifts. They knew that [we] had to work together closely to advance our own values and interests,” he said.
In recognition of their historic roles in the establishment of ASEAN, President Duterte posthumously conferred the Order of Lakandula, with the rank of Supremo, on the five founding fathers of ASEAN namely: Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khonam of Thailand.
The plaques of recognition were received by the descendants of the founding fathers.
The Chief Executive likewise recognized several people from the ASEAN region dubbed as “heroes of ASEAN”, whose works have contributed to the development of the region.
They have come from various fields such as biodiversity conservation and protection, youth entrepreneurship, and research and development in rice science and technology.
“Their achievements augur well for our future. We must so continue to nurture both talent and genius harnessed for the greater common good,” Duterte said.
“Their success is ASEAN’s success. We hope that with our young heroes, many more will be inspired to follow their footsteps and contribute further to the growth of our region,” he added.
The President also enjoined the private sector to play a bigger role in sustaining and further improving economic growth of ASEAN.
He said Public Private Partnership must be harnessed fully to lift peoples from poverty.
He likewise mentioned the ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s Alliance for Prosperity for All, economic integration and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership as some of the initiatives that would further improve regional economy.
The President then thanked the ASEAN member-states and its dialogue partners for the past eight months of consultations and meetings geared towards building on prior accomplishments of the regional bloc.
“Allow me at this point to thank all of our members for their valuable support and active participation. The Philippines will continue to work closely with all stakeholders in the ASEAN to achieve what we set out: An ASEAN that is proactive, relevant and transformative,” he said.
In conclusion, the President said ASEAN must remain united in future years just like how it has been for the past 50 years.
“As we look back on the half-century of achievements, we look forward to a future of greater possibilities, knowing that together, we can make our dreams real,” he said.
Present during the event were Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, former President Fidel Ramos, among others. Also in attendance were Cabinet officials led by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, members of the diplomatic corps, business leaders and other ASEAN delegates.
After the event, foreign ministers attending the ASEAN and related meetings in Manila paid a courtesy call on President Duterte at the Reception Hall.
The President first met with foreign ministers of the 10 ASEAN members states along with ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.
He then met with foreign ministers from dialogue partners of ASEAN including powerful countries such as China, Japan, Russia, European Union, Canada and Australia.
Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono also paid a courtesy call on the President.###PND