President Duterte holds ‘fruitful and productive’ discussions with ASEAN leaders

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Saturday, April 29 said the discussions during the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit were “productive and fruitful.”

In a press conference at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), President Duterte said he and the other nine ASEAN Leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern.

“We acknowledged the importance of ASEAN cooperation in addressing issues that affect peace, security, and prosperity of the region, including terrorism, violent extremism, piracy, human trafficking, and illegal drugs,” he said as he faced the media prior to his hosting of the gala dinner for the visiting Heads of States and Governments.

He said aside from regional grouping’s work in the community building process , they also discussed the implementation of the blueprints and work fronts of the three community pillars: the political security community; the economic community; and the sociocultural community in achieving the realization of ASEAN Vision 2025.

He also cited his productive engagements with parliamentarians and youth representatives of ASEAN whom he said are “vital components in keeping the engine of ASEAN growth running smoothly.”

​The President said the leaders also acknowledged the need to deepen awareness and instill a sense of community among the peoples of ASEAN​.​

​”​We look forward to the full and active participation of all ASEAN citizens for them to effectively play as key partners for positive change in the regional community building​,” he said.​

The President also reiterated his campaign against illegal drugs and is looking at a harsher penalty. “As it is, look at the penalty. Look at the penal provisions of their countries. It’s death by hanging. It’s only the Philippines that has abrogated or suspended the death penalty,” he said.

The President quoted Aung San Suu Kyi’s concept of “right and responsibility” in relation to his campaign against illegal drugs. “And she was very correct. When you have a right, you have a responsibility too. It’s not just a right. You have your human rights, yes, correct. But that human right given to you must be used by you to preserve human right also,” he said.

​On the situation in North Korea, President Duterte admitted that the ASEAN as a bloc is “extremely worried.​”

​He noted that powerful countries like the United States must be prudent and patient in dealing with North Korea.

“I’m sure President (Donald) Trump by now is cautioning his military to just maybe hang on there and not to start something which they cannot control,” he said.

“Everybody’s worried. Nobody’s clapping his hand. And I’m sure that if war breaks out in the Korean Peninsula, the imponderables of life is really you cannot foresee even project what will happen,” he added.

The Chief Executive said the ASEAN will issue a communiqué or a statement about the situation in the Korean Peninsula.​​ ###PND