Duterte: ASEAN to focus on people’s progress, peace, maritime security
DAVAO CITY – President Duterte pledged, on Sunday, to help build “a strong and resilient Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) community and actively promote and enhance its interests” as the Philippines formally accepted the leadership of the 10-state regional bloc.
During his keynote speech at the SMX Convention Center here, Mr. Duterte outlined the direction Asean would pursue under his chairmanship: place people at the core, work for regional peace and stability and pursue maritime security.
The President also vowed to “advance inclusive, innovation-led growth, strengthen Asean resiliency and promote the bloc as a model of regionalism and a global player.”
“As a regional organization and as a community, Asean has, in its disposal, the full complement mechanisms and initiatives that can significantly impact the lives of our citizens,” the 71-year old Chief Executive said.
Duterte, who was swept to power by a landslide victory in last May’s election, said he was “truly honored and humbled” as the Philippines took the helm of leadership of the half-century-old Asean, calling it as “a landmark in its continuing positive narrative.”
“It is an event to renew the enduring ties that bind all Asean member-states. It is an occasion to reaffirm the shared aspirations and values that will lead Asean to the future our peoples truly deserve,” the President said, whose shift away from the United States and towards its regional neighbors defined the independent foreign policy of his seven-month old administration.
“The warmth of the reception and the undeniable connection we encountered speak well of the inroads we have achieved since 1967 when representatives declared the establishment of the Association as a demonstration of the collective will of the nations of Southeast Asia to bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation and through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity,” he said.
The President said Asean “has seen the burning desire to move forward together based on shared values.”
“And we see the very same resolve to work together for a world that recognizes interconnectedness and respects sovereign independence. This is one of the important lessons that Asean can hold to the Asia-Pacific region and to our world,” Duterte added. SFM
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