Duterte opens 30th Asean Summit
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday debuted as host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit here in Manila.
Duterte led the heads of state and leaders of the 10-member regional bloc in opening the 30th Asean Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
The Asean leaders in attendance in the Manila summit were Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak.
In his speech during the Asean Leadership Forum in Manila Hotel Friday, Duterte underscored the need for Asean regional integration in the face of cultural differences and amid the threats of terrorism, violent extremism and criminality such as the illegal drug trade.
“We need to cultivate the sense of ownership by putting Asean in their consciousness… Let them feel they are a part of efforts to achieve common aspiration,” Duterte then said.
Duterte is set to deliver his opening statement as this year’s Asean chairman before the leaders of the region.
The Asean leaders are also expected to sign the Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as A Catalyst for Achieving Asean Community Vision 2025.
They are also expected this afternoon to have an interface with Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers, as well as the Asean youth.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as chairperson of the Asean Inter-parliamentary Assembly will deliver the draft message of the parliamentarians’ group to the Asean leaders.
The Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers are expected to stress the importance of the Asean work plan against illicit drugs and the declaration of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
National Youth Commission chairperson Aiza Seguerra will deliver the statement during the interface between the Asean leaders and the Asean youth, where he is set to appeal for support from the leaders on issues relating to climate change, youth voluntarism, and Asean awareness.
The Philippines is the host of the 30th Asean Summit from April 26 to 29 in Manila. Duterte will chair the first of two annual meetings of Asean leaders. The next meeting is in November.
The Asean leaders are expected to tackle the crafting of a Code of Conduct to govern the actions of Asean member states and China in the South China Sea, where the countries have overlapping maritime claims.
Duterte has said he would not bring up the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that invalidated China’s historic claim on almost all of the West Philippine Sea waters in favor of the Philippines, because it was an issue between Manila and Beijing only.
Besides the Philippines, other Asean member states Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are also claiming parts of the South China Sea.
Duterte will also host a gala dinner at Sofitel Manila for the Asean leaders, who will be garbed with Rajo Laurel barongs showcasing the fabric of Mindanao ethnolinguistic tribes. Meanwhile, the spouses will wear gowns designed by Rhett Eala.
The Asean leaders will also be serenaded after dinner with ethnic musical numbers and cultural dances.
Under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” the Asean leaders will discuss progress in the implementation of the Asean Vision 2025, as well as Asean’s external relations and Asean’s future direction.
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