Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Launching of the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN 2017
SMX Convention Center, Lanang, Davao City
15 January 2017
Thank you, kindly sit down. Salamat po.

Excellencies of ASEAN members states; former President Fidel V. Ramos; former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez; Secretary Perfecto Yasay and the members of the Cabinet; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives; honored guests; ladies and gentlemen:

Thank you everyone for joining us today. I am truly honored and humbled as we launch the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

It is a landmark in ASEAN’s continuing positive narrative.

It is an event to renew the enduring ties that bind us all as ASEAN Member States.

It is an occasion to reaffirm the shared aspirations and values which will lead ASEAN to the future our peoples deserve.

In my seven months as President, I have had the privilege of visiting our brothers and sisters in the region.

The warmth of the reception and the undeniable connections we encountered speak well of the inroads we have achieved since 1967 when the representatives declared the establishment of the Association as a demonstration of the collective will of the nations of South-East Asia bind together in friendship and cooperation and, through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity.

At that time, people were speaking of the primary responsibility of Southeast Asian countries to strengthen the economic and social stability in the region.

We recognized the need to ensure peaceful and progressive national development.

We expressed our shared determination to ensure stability and security from external interference in any form or manifestation in order to preserve our national identities.

Fifty years, hence, we see ourselves much changed for the better.

Lives have been improved. The march towards sustainable development and inclusive growth continues to take place.

And we have established amongst ourselves good neighbourliness that allow for secure and stable relations. 

But we also see in ourselves the very same burning desire to move forward together based on shared values.

We see the very same resolve to work together for a world that recognizes interconnectedness and respects for the sovereign independence.

This is one of the important lessons that ASEAN can hold to the Asia-Pacific region and our world.

But we too have learned many lessons. One of them is that the unity and cooperation that have defined ASEAN over the last five decades will be crucial to our collective success.

We realize that, in truth, there is still a lot of hard work to be done for true transformation that will benefit our peoples in the region.

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.

We will actively promote and enhance ASEAN interests and well-being through policy initiatives, coordination, consensus and cooperation.

Ten years ago in Cebu during the 12th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.

In 2015, ASEAN Leaders at the 27th ASEAN Summit in November of 2015, spoke of the aspiration to establish a truly rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered Community where our peoples continue to participate in and benefit fully from the ongoing process of ASEAN integration and community-building.

Today in Davao City let us renew the solemn pledge to do all we can for the very core of our national and regional interests: our peoples. 

For an ASEAN citizen, the ASEAN Community must provide opportunities for a truly better life. 

This is a life that has broken the bonds of dependence and ignorance. This is a life that has given opportunities for self-improvement. This is a life that is provided by a society transformed and reformed.

We must continue working on a bigger, more open and rules-based market for business and trade to thrive. We must forge on with increased people-to-people interaction through commerce, travel and education. We must strive for a region that promotes and maintains peace, security and stability.

At the closing ceremony of the ASEAN Summits in the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic in September 2016, I announced our chairmanship theme – “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”.

Simple, short, yet meaningful, this theme will guide us through our chairmanship and will define the Philippines’ contribution towards the realization of an ASEAN Community.

We are all partners for change. Since 1967, we have endeavored to work together to bring about positive change for ASEAN’s peoples.

As a regional organization and as a community, ASEAN has, at its disposal, the full complement of mechanisms and initiatives that can significantly impact the lives of our citizens.

We can work to strengthen the capacities of micro, small and medium enterprises, promote and protect the welfare of migrant workers, and ensure social protection for the vulnerable sectors of society.

Particular attention will be directed to sub-regional mechanisms, including BIMP-EAGA which the Philippines will also chair this year. They continue to be crucial in pursuing development initiatives at the grassroots.

The Philippines will be firm in its advocacy to promote cooperation between and among ASEAN neighbors and engage our dialogue partners to be more dynamic and vibrant stakeholders in the continued development of our region.

In our work, we will be guided by the following priorities: We will place our peoples at the core; work for regional peace and stability; pursue maritime security and cooperation; advance inclusive, innovation-led growth; strengthen ASEAN resiliency; and promote ASEAN as a model of regionalism and as a global player.

This is a tremendous task but one that is not unachievable.

Indeed, as Chair, the Philippines has an important leadership role to play. 

But we recognize the truth that the success is defined by the collective work of our nation and in ASEAN’s entire membership.

In this journey, I call on all Filipinos to take an active and constructive part during the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN.

Now, more than ever, it is our spirit of “bayanihan” that has helped define us as a responsible leader of our region during this crucial time.

In this journey, I call on all ASEAN Member States to rededicate theirselves and commit anew to the principles and purposes behind the establishment of our Association adherence to the rule of law.

Now, more than ever, it is ASEAN’s spirit of community that will enable us to overcome challenges that we face as a region.

In this journey, I call on all ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners to be unwavering in your support for the ASEAN’s continued development and for its important role in the region’s security, stability and growth.

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 non-interference – in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect for the rule of law.

Now, more than ever, it is a time for real change through constructive engagements.

We are in this journey together.

This is a golden opportunity for all to work for an ASEAN that has taken its firm and secure place in the community of nations: An ASEAN that has its own significant role in effecting positive change for our world.

Let us all work hand-in-hand to make this vision a reality enjoyed by all.  

Salamat po.