President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday assured the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) of the Philippines’ commitment in maintaining peace and security in the region.
In a speech during the Asean High Level Forum attended by senior government officials of Asean nations and former Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Duterte underscored the importance of a vibrant and active engagement among Asean nations for the regional bloc to be a global player.
Asean groups the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
“For the Asean Leaders’ Summit in November, we intend to reaffirm our commitment in maintaining regional peace and stability, pursuing maritime security, coping with advanced and inclusive innovation and promoting Asean as a global player,” Duterte said.
“We also continue to address security concerns in non-traditional ways such as the Asean Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, the Asean Defense Ministers Meeting which counts for active engagement with our dialogue partners,” he added.
Duterte’s speech came after he declared Marawi City free from the clutches of the Maute terror group.
The President mentioned the end of the Marawi siege in passing but went on to raise the alarm on the presence of pirates in Molucca Sea near Indonesia. He said pirates should be blasted out of the seas to keep shipping lanes open.
“Many thought Asean was an experiment bound to fail, but 50 years after, Asean has been successful, serving as a fulcrum that brought stability and security in the region and shaped relationships among major players in the Asean and the Asia Pacific Region. But Asean at 50 is not a finished product. It is steadily evolving in pursuit of a vision of a peaceful, stable and resilient community with the ability to respond to challenges within and outside our borders,” Duterte said.
“I hope that ASEAN will grow strong and solve the serious problems confronting us. The South China Sea is one, but we are not in a hurry,” Duterte said.