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Duterte calls for ASEAN unity


By Argyll Cyrus Geducos and Genalyn Kabiling

BALI, Indonesia –President Duterte is urging the entire Southeast Asian region to stand us one especially in times of crisis.

Duterte made the statement following the deadly quake which jolted Central Sulawesi in Indonesia on September 28.

MESSAGE IN BALI – In his speech at the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia, President Duterte urged the regional bloc to 'invest in ourselves and within.' (Malacañang photo)

MESSAGE IN BALI – In his speech at the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia, President Duterte urged the regional bloc to ‘invest in ourselves and within.’ (Malacañang photo)

In his remarks during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering Thursday, Duterte noted how Indonesia addressed the quake which killed at least 2,000 people.

“Indonesia has taken on the challenge of rebuilding and rehabilitating its communities. Indonesia stands resilient and unbowed in these difficult times. But Indonesia does not stand alone,” he said.

“Your brothers and sisters in ASEAN stand with you. In responding to disasters, Southeast Asia has declared: One ASEAN, One Response. And we have done so,” he added.

Duterte said unity should be ASEAN’s battle cry in order to address all challenges that may lie ahead.

“This should be our rallying call, not only in times of disasters but, indeed, as we strive to move our region forward to genuine growth, inclusive development and one resilient ASEAN community,” he said.

Invest in ourselves

At the Leaders’ Gathering, Duterte 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 Bali conference, Duterte also extended the country’s sympathies to Indonesia following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the Asian neighbor.

In his arrival statement in Davao, Duterte reported that the Philippines officially turned over its donation of US$500,000 in combined financial and humanitarian assistance to Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang.

“I personally conveyed to Indonesian President JokoWidodo 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.

The quake and the powerful that followed it killed over 2,000 in Central Sulawesi, displaced more than 80,000 and injured 10,679w-tsunami. About 671 people are still missing.
On the sidelines of the ASEAN gathering, Duterte met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen XuanPhuc 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.

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