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Duterte: Future of PH in Asean, Asia

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte--PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte–PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

DAVAO CITY—President Duterte on Tuesday emphasized the importance of forging economic ties with neighboring countries, saying that “indeed the future of the Philippines is in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and in Asia.”

Speaking at a news conference after his arrival from two economic gatherings in the region, Mr. Duterte also underscored the growing importance of China as a source of investments for the Philippines, as his administration embarks on an ambitious infrastructure development program.

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Economic partners

The “growing economies of Southeast Asia stand at the center of the Asia-Pacific [region] …. Responsible economic partners are our new allies in nation-building and regional integration,” he said.

Mr. Duterte said working with member states of Asean could help “narrow the development gap.”

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“I spoke of opportunities of mutually beneficial partnership, especially in the Philippines’ infrastructure development goal. With ‘Build, build and build,’ I invited the stakeholders to take part in what is the largest effort to date to modernize and integrate the Philippines’ infrastructure,” he said.

“Build, build, build” is the Duterte administration’s infrastructure development program.

Mr. Duterte attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Asean in Phnom Penh before flying to Beijing for the two-day new Silk Road conference.

He said his message in Phnom Penh “resonated, particularly our commitment to provide enabling environment of business to thrive, with criminality addressed, corruption curbed and contractual obligations complied [with].”

Mr. Duterte also met with China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during the two-day event
in Beijing, renewing their resolve to “strengthen friendship and mutually beneficial partnership.”

Silk Road revival

China’s initiative to extend economic cooperation aims to revive and expand the ancient Silk Road from Central Asia to Southeast Asia and countries in Africa and Europe.

“With One Belt and One Road, we had the opportunities to synergize our efforts to bring progress and prosperity and the peace and stability that our people and our region deserve,” Mr. Duterte said, adding that Beijing had the money and it wanted to share it.

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“China is very liberal and generous,” he said.

Started by Xi in 2013, China’s ambitious infrastructure aid to developing countries carries an $890-billion price tag.

According to Mr. Duterte, Beijing has pledged “hundreds of millions of pesos” worth of infrastructure projects that include two bridges over the Pasig River and a major railway.

While portion of the infrastructure package could be financed by private lenders, Mr. Duterte said part of the pledge would come in the form of grants or for free.

He said he hoped the projects would start within the year.

Mr. Duterte also announced that Beijing has opened its doors to Filipino professionals, such as engineers and English teachers, to work there.

“They need many teachers,” he said.

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TAGS: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Economy, Philippine news updates, South China sea
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