The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joined fellow Heads of State and Government of ASEAN member-states in their plenary forum this evening, November 2.
The President of the Philippines opted to talk about the challenges that face ASEAN while the regional bloc charts its own course, and thereafter shared his insights in addressing the same. These include transnational crimes, advances in technology, protectionism and trade-related tension among ASEAN partners, environmental sustainability and geopolitical transformation.
The Chief Executive, in elaborating geopolitical transformation, mentioned the issue of the South China Sea, which he considers as one that is of strategic importance to ASEAN. President Duterte articulated the firm stance of the Philippines on the issue, that is, the same must be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The President further mentioned that maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight above the South China Sea is a priority of ASEAN.
As ASEAN-China Country Coordinator, the Philippines, under PRRD, vowed to do its utmost best to conclude the negotiations on the Code of Conduct — one that is effective and substantive — at the soonest possible time.
Related to this, we note that President Duterte likewise discussed the changing regional landscape which recognizes the rise of the dragon (China) in a world still dominated by a soaring eagle (United States). He called on ASEAN leaders not to choose — or be forced to choose — sides by pointing out what he calls a “strategic mistake” committed by the past leaderships of the Philippines, which he his now rectifying through his independent foreign policy.
The Palace foresees the President to continue elaborating the position of our country in relation to important matters to ASEAN and discussing matters that are beneficial not just to the Filipino people but to the citizens of our neighbor countries in ASEAN for the remainder of this trip.
November 3, 2019
Salvador S. Panelo
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
& Presidential Spokesperson