Member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must remain united in pursuing peace, stability and prosperity in the South China Sea, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said Tuesday as he attends the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits via video conference.
The regional bloc, he said, should pursue these initiatives in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award that favored the Philippines.
“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” he stressed.
During his intervention at the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, President Duterte urged countries to translate their commitments into action regarding the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the midst of the evolving geopolitical situation in Asia.
“Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words,” the President said
As claimants craft a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the President lauded the Philippines’ contribution to the substantive progress in the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text, as the country reaffirms its commitment to the conclusion of an effective and substantive COC.
Noting 2017-2027 as the Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, the President reiterated the Philippines’ call for holistic efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment.
Also during his intervention, the Filipino leader pointed out that a dynamic ASEAN-China cooperation puts both sides in a formidable position to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, address climate change and manage geopolitical issues.
He expressed his gratitude to China for supporting ASEAN’s pandemic response, particularly by making life-saving vaccines global public goods.
ASEAN’s road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be long and difficult as the region reels from the impact of the contagion, the President said during the 38th ASEAN Summit.
He emphasized the need for a phased and comprehensive implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and called for the immediate establishment of the ASEAN Centre on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
At the 39th ASEAN Summit, President Duterte called on his ASEAN counterparts to stand with Myanmar in solving its crisis peacefully for the welfare of its people.
Myanmar’s political players, he said, must engage in constructive dialogue, and the ASEAN Special Envoy must be allowed to visit the country.
At the 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit, President Duterte welcomed the Joint Statement on Advancing ASEAN-ROK Cooperation and underscored the need for deeper regional integration to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.
At the same time, he welcomed the signing of the Philippines-ROK Free Trade Agreement Tuesday, noting it is needed “for our economies to recover and bounce back.”
He also pushed for the full implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
The President welcomed the United Kingdom as ASEAN’s new Dialogue Partner and vowed to enhance relations with the European Union (EU) as the new Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations.
Joining the President during the first day of the Summits were Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Joselito D. Bautista and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.