Don’t meddle in Asean, big powers told
DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday urged the United States, China, Russia and other dialogue-partners of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) not to meddle in its affairs as the Philippines formally assumed the chairmanship of the regional bloc.
Mr. Duterte was uncharacteristically staid when he delivered his 12-minute prepared speech. It was a departure from his usually impromptu and profanity-laden talk.
“I also call on Asean dialogue-partners to renew their dedication to the valued purposes and principles stated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, including noninterference, in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect for the rule of law,” he said.
He slightly raised his voice to emphasize the word “noninterference.”
“Now, more than ever,” Mr. Duterte said, “it is a time for real change through constructive engagements. We are in this journey together.”
Strong and resilient
He continued: “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. We are committed to the building of a strong and resilient Asean community.”
Just seven months into his six-year term, the President has caused ripples in the international arena with his tirades against the United States, the United Nations and the European Union for criticizing his war on drugs.
He also raised not a few eyebrows when he announced during his visit in Beijing the country’s “separation” from the United States and his decision to cozy up with China and Russia.
He said the annual meeting of Asean, which would mark its 50th foundation year, was a “golden opportunity” for the 10 member-states to come together in working for a regional organization “that has its own significant role in effecting positive change for our world.”
Mr. Duterte said the meeting would center on putting “our peoples at the core,” fostering regional peace and ensuring maritime security and cooperation.
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