By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is back home from his brief visit to Indonesia where he pushed for closer regional cooperation to promote growth and address threats to security and stability.
The President arrived in Davao City early Friday morning after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia.
“I am pleased to be back home from an engaging interaction with my fellow ASEAN leaders and heads of international institutions at the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering in Bali,” he said in his arrival statement.
“At the meeting, I reiterated the Philippines’ national priorities of inclusive growth, stable and secure environment, [and] economic integration in the region,” he added.
Duterte said he also highlighted the importance of ASEAN-centered efforts, citing the need to “invest in ourselves and within” the regional bloc.
He called for a “stronger ASEAN to sustain the efforts towards greater peace, progress and prosperity for Southeast Asia and its peoples.”
“Only when we are willing to invest in ourselves can we ensure resiliency amid the challenges of trade tensions, threats to security and stability, and increasing natural calamities,” he said.
While attending the summit in Bali, Duterte also extended the country’s sympathies to Indonesia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the Asian neighbor. He said the country extended humanitarian aid to disaster-hit Indonesia.
“I personally conveyed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo the Philippines’ condolences to Indonesian people who suffered successive earthquakes and tsunami,” he said.
“In times of need, Indonesia was ready to help. Now, we are giving back. That’s the ASEAN way. That’s our duty as brother and a neighbor. Indonesia welcomed the humble assistance we coursed through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management,” he said.
On the sidelines of the ASEAN gathering, Duterte met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and tackled the “delineation of our boundaries.”
“I told him that in due time, that we will take a longer period for we have to establish even our continental shelf limits,” he said.
Both leaders agreed to work more closely to achieve shared goals for stability in the region.
“At the end of the meeting, the Philippines remains committed to work closely with ASEAN and key global institutions to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable environment that promotes the greater common good,” Duterte said.