Press Briefing

Pre-departure Briefing of Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s participation to the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Singapore

Event Pre-departure Briefing
Location New Executive Bldg., Malacanang


ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Good morning po sa ating lahat. Good morning. Magandang umaga. Maayong buntag sa atong tanan, friends from the media.

I would like to brief you on the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits that will be held in Singapore from the 13th to the 15th of November 2018. The venue for the summit is the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Prior to the start of the meeting of the leaders on November 13, preparatory meetings at the senior officials’ and ministers’ level will be held on 11 to 13 November.

The President will be participating in the summit at the invitation of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

This is the second and last summit of ASEAN for the year. Apart from their own meeting, the ASEAN leaders will have summits with leaders from dialogue partners in the format of the Plus One summit.

They’re going to meet individually with Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.

At the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, that means ASEAN 10, with the leaders of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea.

And in the East Asia Summit, which includes Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States. So it’s going to be a very busy schedule.

The leaders will also hold the second summit on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP to look into the progress in the negotiations of this very important document.

The ASEAN Summit will be an opportunity for leaders to see the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN Community blueprints and the work in moving community building forward as well as bringing ASEAN closer to the realization of a rules-based, people-oriented, and people-centered ASEAN Community.

The related summits to be held in Singapore, on the other hand, will be an opportunity for the President and other ASEAN leaders to look into the progress of ASEAN’s relations with the dialogue partners and the deepening cooperation with them on a number of priority areas.

And I would like to mention: infrastructure development; economic cooperation; development of micro, small, and medium enterprises; connectivity; non-traditional security issues like countering terrorism and violent extremism; illicit drugs; and trafficking in persons.

Other areas of cooperation include: women and youth; disaster management; climate change; and people-to-people exchanges.

Under Singapore’s chairmanship theme of a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN, ASEAN Member States will take a look at developments in one of Singapore’s flagship initiatives, namely the ASEAN Smart Cities Network. This is an initiative that hopes to move forward city development, sustainable urbanization, and connectivity among the cities of ASEAN.

Given that the summit — this is a summit with the major players in the region, we can expect engaging discussions on regional and international issues that impact on the peace, security, and overall well-being of the peoples of our region.

Among the issues that may be touched on by leaders are the Korean Peninsula, the South China Sea, the global economy, and the challenges to economic integration and to a rules-based multilateral trade system as well as transnational and transboundary issues, such as terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs, climate change, and disaster management.

We anticipate a number of outcome documents to be adopted, issued, and noted by the leaders at the ASEAN Summit and in the Plus One summits, the ASEAN Plus Three as well as the East Asia Summit.

Finally, at this 33rd Summit of ASEAN, Singapore will symbolically handover the chairmanship of ASEAN to Thailand and Thailand will assume as chair at the beginning of 2019, next year.

This ends my brief statement. I will entertain questions from the media now.


Q: Good morning. Maayong buntag, ma’am. Ronron Calunsod of Kyodo News, Japanese news agency. Ma’am, as regards the RCEP, what information do you have will be the major significant development after the summit?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: We were hoping that the RCEP would be concluded by the time of the summit, but it seems that we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. But after the summit, I mean — during the summit, the leaders would express their commitment to conclude the negotiations because this is very important for the region especially in view of the rising trade developments, tensions in our unilateral actions. And we expect the leaders to call for the expeditious conclusion of the RCEP.

Q: Not categorically declaring a conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year, just an expression of desire?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Well, the leaders won’t say that we will finish by this year, but will call on all parties to make sure that we have an early conclusion of the agreement.

Q: Ma’am, I heard the — some issues that you mentioned but I didn’t hear the Rohingya issue. Do you think it will also be brought up during the summit?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: I think we can expect that the issue of the — the Rohingya issue would be brought up in certain meetings during the summit and I think ASEAN is ready to answer this issue.

Q: Last from my point — from my end. How will — what will be the important issues as far as our President is concerned? What will he bring up, ma’am, on the table?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: I have mentioned before, I’ve enumerated some of the issues that are very important, concerns that are very important to us. Medium and small — micro, small, and medium enterprises; infrastructure development because of our Build, Build, Build program; economic integration; economic building; and economic community; and economic cooperation, connectivity.

Iyong mga non-traditional issues like countering terrorism, violent extremism, combatting illicit drugs, and trafficking in persons. We would also be very interested in women and youth development, disaster management, climate change and people-to-people exchanges.

And of course we would expect an outcome document on the rights of migrant workers as well which has been shepherded by the Philippines since the beginning.

Q: Hi ma’am. Good morning. Ma’am, will the President raise or — clarification to the reported, the installation of China of weather system to the — some of the artificial islands in the South China Sea during the ASEAN China summit?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Yes, as you know the Philippines has assumed the coordinatorship of the ASEAN-China Dialogue partnership from this year until 2021, that’s for a period of three years.

And we are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I’ve mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the summit.

As to the detail of the discussions, I cannot say. But for sure there’s going to be discussion on the South China Sea.

Q: Good morning, ma’am, sir — ma’am, who will be — who will be part of the official delegation po?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Who will be part of the official delegation? I think I would defer to the Office of the President to comment or to reply to that question but we have made our recommendations already.

Q: But definitely ma’am, there will be Cabinet secretaries, members of the Cabinet who will be part…?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Yes, yes of course. Because as you know, the summit would touch on the three pillars of cooperation within ASEAN namely, political security pillar, economic pillar, and sociocultural.

So the portfolios of the Cabinet ministers that we would recommend to attend would follow that format as well.

Q: After po ba nitong ASEAN, will the President be meeting the Filipino community in Singapore?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: We have not heard of any plans because as I’ve mentioned, the schedule is really tight. One meeting happening after the other. And then these are leaders, heads of states and governments. And we are not sure if there’s going to be time to meet the community.

Q: Good morning, ma’am. Ma’am, is there any possibility that President Duterte and Xi Jinping might have talks sa sidelines ng ano — ng ASEAN?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Well, it’s a very small place, the Suntec Conference Centre, so there’s always the possibility.  But any meetings would have to be of course prepared for beforehand. So we’ll just see. We’ll just see.

Q: Pero ma’am, meron po bang nag-request na government — other government to meet with the President formally?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Yes, there are a number of countries. But since arrangements are still being made, I think it’s better if I won’t mention them yet.

Q: Both ASEAN Member States and dialogue partners?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: That’s right.

Q: Around how many, ma’am? Kahit ‘yung number lang.

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: Ito na naman tayo. Okay. Siguro roughly mga — at most four to five.

Q: Ma’am, si US President Trump ba and Vladimir Putin ang a-attend sa ASEAN ngayon?

ASEC. MAHILUM-WEST: It’s good that you asked that because for the US, it’s going to be Vice President Mike Pence who is going to represent President Donald Trump. And we have been advised that it’s President Putin of Russia who will be attending.


SOURCE: PCOO – PND (Presidential News Desk)