Asean summit a ‘tremendous success’

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A tremendous success.

This was how Malacañang described the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit hosted by the Philippines that cost the government P15.5 billion.

“It was a tremendous success. Now that all the guests are gone, there is a sigh of relief that there was not one untoward incident. All that could have happened was one explosion for us to have a major disaster in our hands. But thanks to the cooperation of the Filipino people, we averted such incidents,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday.

“The world community now recognizes not only the fact that the Philippine President is not just a President of the Philippines, a leader of Southeast Asia, but a recognized leader in the international community. They have also given notice that the Philippines is able to competently host a meeting of this scale and scope. And the fact that there was no untoward incident proves that the Philippines is safe to visit,” he added.


Meaningful change

Some senators agreed with the assessment of the Palace, saying the able leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte allowed Asean member states and their dialog partners to build a foundation for meaningful change.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian described as “watershed moment” for regional security the announcement that China and Asean will start formal talks on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“This is the first time in 15 years that Asean and China have made real progress toward settling the longstanding disputes in the West Philippine and South China seas,” Gatchalian said. “This is a pivotal step toward making a comprehensive agreement which will permanently diffuse tensions in the disputed areas by creating a lasting framework for the equitable navigation and use of these crucial waters.”

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said the country’s hosting of the Asean Summit and Related Summits from November 13 to 14 “was a success by most accounts.”

Political analyst Richard Heydarian said the country’s hosting of the Asean Summit led to the normalization of relations between the Philippines and the United States.

Heydarian said the Philippines was able to “give justice” to the 50th anniversary of Asean.

“We were able to create a platform or we had the chance to fix our relations with America. The highlight of the summit, insofar as I’m concerned, was the meeting between (US President) Donald Trump and President (Rodrigo) Duterte,” Heydarian said.

“Nitong mga nakaraang araw naging center of universe tayo even though temporary. At least, nakita ng mundo ‘yung mga positive side ng Pilipinas (We became the ‘center of the universe’ during the past few days. The world was able to see the positive side of the Philippines),” he said.

with Bernadette E. Tamayo

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