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Duterte: People should understand the importance of Asean

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) walks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (2nd R) after they inspected a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on April 28, 2017, ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, where leaders will discuss territorial disputes, terrorism and economic integration, takes place in the Philippine capital on April 28-29.  (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo (L) walks with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (2nd R) after they inspected a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on April 28, 2017, ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila, where leaders will discuss territorial disputes, terrorism and economic integration, takes place in the Philippine capital on April 28-29. (Photo by TED ALJIBE / AFP)

President Rodrigo Duterte emphasized on Friday that people should be made to understand the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Speaking at the Asean Leadership Forum at the Manila Hotel, Duterte focused on the vision of people-centered and people-oriented Asean.

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He called the Asean story “remarkable,” citing the bloc for community-building efforts and regional security.

Despite the diversity of Asean’s member nations, he said the bloc has succeeded in being the “center of the future of the Asia Pacific region.”

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Duterte said the group continued to advance the region’s common interests “be it in the inclusive and innovative growth of our economies, the preservation of our heritage and culture or the pursuit of stability and security in our societies and the threats such as terrorism, violent extremism and criminality such as the illegal drug trade.”

The President, who is this year’s host for the Asean Summit, said such gains would not be enough as there would still be a need to make people understand how past gains of the Asean had “contributed to their well being and how the organization of the Asean will make their lives better.”

He said the key was to make the region’s population “see their future in the Asean future.”

“We need to cultivate the sense of ownership by putting Asean in their consciousness,” he said. “Let them feel they are a part of efforts to achieve common aspiration.”

“This way we can truly turn Asean into an effective model for regional integration,” Duterte added.

He explained that an Asean identity would “serve as a strong foundation of our Asean citizenship.”

The Asean has been eyeing an economic community that resembles the European Union. However, observers claim it will take a long time because of the diversity of Asean’s member states. /atm

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READ: Asean to declare economic union
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TAGS: Asean Summit, Rodrigo Duterte
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