DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Duterte will seek the support of members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the global fight against illegal drugs and terrorism. “Recent events have shown that there are elements out there who seek to sow terror and wreak havoc in our society and the Philippines would remain firm in our resolve to combat terrorism,” he said in his pre-departure speech before flying to Laos. Duterte left for Vientiane, Laos at around 4:30 p.m. yesterday to attend the 49th ASEAN Leaders Summit, where he will formally receive the chairmanship of the ASEAN, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year. He left with a delegation of about 30 officials, including Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. and Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. Duterte said he would use the opportunity in the ASEAN summit “to seek better support for regional efforts to address terrorism and violent extremism.” In pushing for a drug-free ASEAN, Duterte said the drug problem has gone beyond borders, affecting all member-countries.
“The international drug cartels have been working and we have to fight them,” he said. Every Filipino should do his part for the sake of our country, he added. Duterte said the ASEAN summit will be an important opportunity “to ask for the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes.” “I will take the opportunity to discuss with them the importance of regional and international issues that impact on peace, security and stability of our region,” he said. “The summit is an excellent opportunity to underscore the importance of the rule of law and peaceful resolution of disputes.”
Duterte will also ask for cooperation in addressing international crimes, like the trafficking of persons and acts of terrorism, aside from discussing some economic issues. “We remain committed in our duty to do our utmost to protect our citizens.” It will be Duterte’s first time to meet the leaders of other countries, including those of Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US. He said the international community could expect the Philippines to cooperate in its goals, including ASEAN’s Vision 2025, which calls for a rules-based, people-centered program. “The security of the region hinges on the cooperation of member-states,” he said. “We will call for renewed cooperation for a drug-free ASEAN community.” On the economic front, Duterte said he will talk of inclusive growth – an economic growth that is “felt by every Filipino” – aside from underscoring the importance of micro and medium industries in every country’s growth. He will also tell the other leaders that his administration would work to improve access to education and to providing opportunities for all, including the out-of-school youth, “to develop and realize their potentials to be productive and responsible members of the community.”
Education, HIV The Philippines will also push for regional cooperation on education and preventing the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during the ASEAN summit. National Youth Commission chair Aiza Seguerra will represent the country during the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with representatives of the youth today in Vientiane. “There is a strong need (to encourage participation) in education, health issues, mental health and HIV,” Seguerra told Laos-bound reporters in Bangkok