PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said the next two days would be an “excellent opportunity” for Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) leaders and dialogue partners to discuss issues affecting the region’s growth like terrorism and illegal drugs.
The President’s statement is contained in a speech he delivered on Monday, as he formally opened the 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits wherein he outlined the agenda of the meeting, as well as the expected outcome from the conference attended by leaders from 20 countries in Asean and its dialogue partners Australia, Canada, China, European Union, Japan, India, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, United States, and United Nations.
In his opening statement, the President mentioned about the liberation of Marawi City from the terrorist group who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, referring to the Maute extremists.
“We are now in the process of helping people back in their feet to reclaim their lives,” he said. Mr. Duterte also thanked international partners for their assistance in dealing with the situation in Marawi.
“We thank our Asean brothers in providing support, relief for internally displaced persons (IDP) while others provided valuable assistance and bolstered our military campaign,” the President said.
“I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to emphasize that our meetings in the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance,” the President said.
He stressed that “terrorism and violent extremism endanger the stability and security of our region because these threats know no boundaries.”
“Piracy and armed robbery in the seas put a dent on our growth and disrupt the stability of both regional and global economies,” the President said.
The Chief Executive also noted that the “menace of illegal drugs” would continue to endanger Asean societies. “Regional issues are high on the agenda of our meetings among other traditional issues that challenge the prosperity of our economies,” he said.