MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte wrapped up his first foreign trips as the Philippines’ head of state, which brought him to Vientiane, Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits, and to Jakarta, Indonesia for a working visit.
In his arrival statement delivered at the Davao International Airport on Saturday, PRRD reported that both trips were focused on advancing the national interests of the Filipinos in the regional and world community.
The President engaged the leaders of ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners on important global issues that impact on the peace, security, stability and prosperity of the region.
PRRD also expressed the Philippines’ concern over developments in the South China Sea but stressed our commitment to a peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, encouraging leaders to support the individual and collective efforts to bring security and stability in the disputed waters through a rules-based approach for resolving maritime issues.
He thanked the country’s partners for expressing sympathy and solidarity over recent events of terrorism and violent extremism in Mindanao and urged leaders to cooperate and redouble efforts to address the menace. underscored the country’s grave concern on the proliferation of the illicit drug trade and the social illness that breeds corruption at the highest levels, tears apart the fabric of society, and debases human dignity.
President Duterte assured the ASEAN neighbors that actions being taken in the fight against the illegal drug trade are within the bounds of the law. He called for greater regional cooperation in capacity building and law enforcement efforts.
The ASEAN chairmanship was also formally bestowed upon PRRD in time for the 50th anniversary of the alliance in 2017. “On behalf of the Filipino people, I accepted with great humility the Chairmanship of ASEAN from Laos.” he said.
“The Philippines is open for business,” the President proudly declared at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The Duterte administration will do its part in making the business environment conducive to micro, small and medium enterprises.
At the sidelines, PRRD met separately with leaders of Japan, Laos, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, and Vietnam. He discussed with them his vision for partnerships based on mutual trust and respect, identified ways to move relationships forward, and thanked them for hosting Filipino workers in their countries.
In Indonesia, President Duterte was warmly welcomed by President Joko Widodo. He described the warmth and hospitality of the Indonesian leader as that of a brother.
The two leaders resolved to work closer together to achieve shared aspirations of peace, progress and prosperity. This includes interdicting piracy and lawless elements at sea, fostering greater economic cooperation and integration, as well as enforcing laws and building capabilities to fight the illegal drug trade and criminality.
The President also took time to meet with the Filipino community in Jakarta and thanked them for their good work. He reminded his kababayan that they contribute to the socio-economic development of the Philippines and that they should be respectful of the laws of the country that hosts them.
“In our relations with the world, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy. We will observe and insist–I repeat, I insist on the time-honored principles of sovereign equality, non-interference, and the commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes to best serve our people and protect the interests of our country. Daghang salamat.” PNA/northboundasia.com