Duterte urges Asean leaders: Work for secure region, inclusive growth
(Updated, 3:38 p.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday called on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to boost their alliance in providing a secure region amid threats of transnational crimes and terrorism.
“We want a region that is secure — where our peoples can live without fear from the lawless elements and the debilitating effects of corruption and transnational crimes,” Duterte said in a speech during the Asean 50th anniversary celebration at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
Addressing terrorism and violence in the region was high on the agenda during the foreign ministers meeting in Manila.
In a joint communiqué released on Sunday, Asean member states vowed their commitment to combat the rising threat of terrorism in the region.
Duterte’s rallying call for a secure region came as government troops are still battling Maute terrorists in Marawi city in Mindanao, which is placed under an extended martial law until the end of the year.
Duterte, chair of this year’s Asean, also called on the regional bloc’s diplomats to foster mutual respect and understanding as he emphasized that the rule of law must prevail in the region amid differences.
“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 said.
The Philippines has been locked in a maritime dispute with China over parts of the South China Sea where some Asean member states were also claimants.
Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims on the resource-rich South China Sea.
The long standing sea dispute between Asean countries and China has soured each other’s relations but Duterte highlighted the importance of dialogue.
“It is a journey that continues as we seek to engage with our neighbors positively in dialogue partnerships that continue to grow,” he said.
Prosperity for all
As the Asean celebrates its 50th year, the President said “prosperity should not be the right of just a chosen few.
“It must be a blessing enjoyed by all,” he said.
“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 added. IDL