PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its dialogue partners to help in addressing terrorism and illegal drugs, as well as in maintaining peace and stability in the region.
Duterte made the statement as he formally opened the 31st Asean Summit, which gathers leaders of the 10-nation regional bloc and dialogue partners, including the United States and China.
In a speech at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City, Duterte warned about terrorism and illegal drugs, which he said, were threats to the region’s peace and stability.
“I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to emphasize that our
meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance,” Duterte said.
“Terrorism and violent extremism endanger the peace, stability and security of our region because these threats know no boundaries,” he added.
The President cited the five-month long siege in Marawi wherein Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute terrorist group members stormed Marawi City to establish an IS province.
A month before the Asean summit, Duterte declared the liberation of Marawi City from the hands of the terrorists after government troops killed terror leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Omar Maute.
In his speech, Duterte personally thanked Asean member-states and other world leaders who extended assistance as the Philippines sought to end the Marawi crisis.
“Less than a month ago, Philippine government forces liberated the city of Marawi from terrorist groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Resolute, we are now in the process of helping people back on their feet to reclaim their lives,” the President said.
“We thank our international partners for providing assistance in dealing with the situation in Marawi City. Our Asean brothers provided support by sending relief items for the benefit of the internally displaced persons while others provided valuable assistance and bolstered our military campaign,” he added
Duterte, who continues to push for his war against narcotics trade despite global criticism, said the drug menace “continues to endanger the very fabric of our societies.”
He also said that piracy and armed robbery in the seas “put a dent on our growth and disrupt the stability of both regional and global commerce.”
Duterte also announced that Asean-member states have come to an agreement on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.
“I will be joining other Asean leaders tomorrow in signing this landmark document that would strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services for our people,” he said.
Other “deliverables” that will see the fruition, Duterte said, involve health, women and the youth, terrorism, radicalization and violent extremism, trafficking, poverty alleviation, food security, coastal and marine environment, and innovation.