President Rodrigo Duterte called on leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to not take sides so as not to suffer from geopolitical issues of major economies and worsen global uncertainties.
During the 14th East Asia Summit (EAS) held as part of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits, Duterte said the country now bids “to expand the horizons of our diplomacy”.
“We are for an open and inclusive regional order where the rule of law reigns. And where ASEAN centrality is an essential component of the regional security architecture,” he said.
Duterte vowed closer tie-up, not just with countries within the region, but also those outside such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, and the Republic of India to further solidify regional mechanisms for peace and development.
He also called on the Philippines’ partners to recognize the decisions of all sides.
“After all, the true measure of power is not coercion, but rather the ability to persuade on the strength of one’s ideals. Power is also the wisdom to exercise restraint even when outright domination is possible,” he said.
Despite the bid to protect the region, Duterte cited contributions both of the US and China in regional and global developments.
He, however, implored Asean partners against moves that will divide the region and weaken resolve to fight their rights on the South China Sea and the materialization of the Code of Conduct (COC).
He also noted the impact of the ongoing trade issues between US and China, which, he said, might result in the revival of protectionism.
“We are alarmed by this development. If left unchecked, this can undermine global growth, consigning millions of people in the developing world to a life of poverty,” he said.
The President also mentioned the need to sustain efforts towards the achievement of a lasting peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
During the Special Lunch on Sustainable Development on Monday, Duterte called on Western economies to stop making Asia the dumping ground of their wastes.
He said the Philippines, along with Malaysia and Indonesia, have received shipments tagged as recyclables from developed countries but in reality, are hazardous wastes.
“If we are talking about improving the ecology of the place, the environment, then we must take into account what we dump,” he said.
“I think, Mr. Chair, this is as good as any other time and any place to tell the other countries, the Western countries, to be more circumspect.”
In May this year, the Philippine government sent back to Canada 69 shipping containers full of trash.
Duterte ordered the trash dumped near Canadian ports if Canadian authorities will not accept it.
To prevent similar incidents in the future, Duterte recommended that regular meetings be done among Asean countries and experts to dissuade developed nations from doing this again.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte, during the 22nd Asean-Japan Summit also held Monday, noted Japan’s priorities for Asean benefits, among others, may include the Philippines’ development program.
He said the President urged for the full implementation of the Asean-Japan Agreement on Technical Cooperation to enhance capacity building.
He raised the need for the effective implementation of the Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership to enhance trade and investments.
“We further note that the President manifested that he looks forward to Japan’s assistance and support in building a more resilient ASEAN community as he conveyed his appreciation of its generous contribution in addressing climate change,” Panelo added. (PNA)