President Rodrigo Duterte led the launch over the weekend of the country’s chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), calling on Filipinos to help for the successful hosting of the annual summit.
“We recognize the truth that the success is defined by the collective work of our nation and in ASEAN’s entire membership,” the President said in a speech during the launching at SMX Convention Center here in Davao City.
“In this journey, I call on all Filipinos to take an active and constructive part during the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN. Now, more than ever, it is our spirit of ‘bayanihan’ that has helped define us as a responsible leader of our region during this crucial time,” he added.
He said more than ever, it is ASEAN’s spirit of community that will enable the regional grouping to overcome challenges that it faces as a region.
The President also called on all ASEAN’s dialogue partners to be unwavering in their support for the ASEAN’s continued development and role in regional security, stability and growth.
At the same time, he rallied support from ASEAN member states to renew their dedication to the valued purposes and principles stated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation – including non-interference – in promoting regional peace and stability through respect for the rule of law.
The Chief Executive stressed that this is a golden opportunity for the ASEAN to work for a regional grouping that has taken its firm and secure place in the community of nations.
While ASEAN has accomplished a lot since its inception 50 years ago, the President said there is still a lot of hard work to be done to achieve real regional transformation.
“I say to you today in full humility: the Philippines – as ASEAN Chair – will remain steadfast in upholding the ideals and values we hold dear and in working for the realization of our shared aspirations,” he said.
“We are committed to the building of a strong and resilient ASEAN Community,” he added.
ASEAN member states can work to strengthen the capacities of micro, small and medium enterprises, promote and protect the welfare of migrant workers, and ensure social protection for the vulnerable sectors of society, he noted.
The President, meanwhile, said that particular attention will be directed towards the development of Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) noting that talks will be facilitated by the Philippines this year.
The Philippines’ chairmanship will be guided by six thematic priorities spearheaded by the Philippines including people-centered initiatives, ensuring regional peace and stability, pursuing maritime security and cooperation, advancing inclusive, innovation-led growth, strengthening ASEAN resiliency, and promoting ASEAN as a model of regionalism and as a global player.
The Philippines’ hosting coincides with ASEAN’s 50th anniversary celebration with the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”
Among the distinguished guests who graced the event were former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, members of the Cabinet and ambassadors of the 10 ASEAN Member States.
The ASEAN commemorative coin and stamp were also launched during the event.
The guests were greeted by cultural dances, and a choir based in Davao City, who sang the theme song of the ASEAN Summit.