Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the 14th ASEAN Leadership Forum
Fiesta Pavilion, Manila Hotel
28 April 2017

Thank you. Kindly sit down.

President Ramos, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute for inviting me to this very important gathering.

It is an honor to speak before you today. The Philippine government recognizes the important role of Track 2 organizations such as the Institute play in the regional affairs.

You are an essential part of democracy and the democratic process by providing key spaces for the responsible exploration, discussion, and resolution of issues outside of the official policy circle you help build nations and our regions.

Citizen’s participation is a key in governance and is the bedrock of any strong nation. In the Philippines, we encourage our peoples to contribute in setting national programs and directions.

In my administration, citizen feedback is essential to ensure that the wheels of government work and work well for our people.

To be sure, there are many different opinions and positions as many issues and challenges that we face. But as a country and as a people, we value diversity and differences.

We are confident that this is the source of greater strength and a firmer resolve for a government and people determined to transform society, bring reforms and create positive change.

The Philippines’ outlook with regard to pursuing its regional and international agenda is no different. Inclusiveness is vital.

The Academy or ASLI plays a crucial role in bringing together governments, private sectors, and civil societies across the region.

Your efforts have gone a long way in forging inclusivity in the ASEAN journey towards the realization of a politically cohesive, economically integrated, and socially responsible region.

The Philippines had entire ASEAN values, the Institute. The ideals you articulate and the perspective you share with us helped strengthen our efforts to build a stronger ASEAN community.

You embody our founding father’s vision which has echoed in the contributions of the distinguished recipients of this year’s ASEAN leadership awards.

Indeed all of you are very much a part of the shaping of the ASEAN story.

The ASEAN story is remarkable. It’s success in the past 50 years is evident in how the Association has become the driver of regional community building efforts and fulcrum upon which the regional security and architecture balances.

Through the years, ASEAN has demonstrated success in building peace and security, facilitating economic growth, and social development, and engaging the larger world community.

As we commemorate five decades of ASEAN’s establishment, we need to take a moment to look back on the challenges we have surmounted to be where we are today.

Only by doing so can we have a clearer vision and a firmer resolve to get to where we want to be.

The diversity in ASEAN is very marked. We have different languages, cultures, colonial experiences, forms of government and political systems.

At any other time, this diversity would have been the perfect storm of what could have led to strife or conflict. 

But ASEAN is different and stands now at the center of the future of the Asia Pacific region.

During the last ASEAN Community in 2015, we had in mind an outward-looking region, with economies that are vibrant, competitive and highly integrated.

We envisioned an inclusive community bound by a strong sense of togetherness and common destiny.

Simply put, the ASEAN story is about seeking positive change in the lives of our people.

We continue to work together in shaping this positive change through initiatives that significantly impact on the lives of every ASEAN citizen.

At the same time, we continue to pursue ASEAN’s greater international engagement to advance our common interest be it in the inclusive and innovative growth of our economies; the preservation of our heritage and culture; or the pursuit of the stability and security in our societies against threats such as terrorism, violent extremism and criminality such as the illegal drug trade.

This is what we mean by people-centered, people-oriented ASEAN. 

Still, it is not enough that we work for the realization of these common aspirations.

It is equally important that we make our peoples understand how important ASEAN is; how its past gains have directly contributed to their well-being; and how the realization of ASEAN’s goal will make their lives better.

Getting our peoples to own the ASEAN story as their story and to see their future in the ASEAN future would be among the focus of our efforts.

We need to cultivate their sense of ownership by putting ASEAN in their consciousness, let them feel that they are a part of efforts to achieve common aspirations.

This way, we can truly turn ASEAN into an effective model for regional integration.

This way, we can contribute to the spirit of international cooperation and cross-cultural collaboration that have shaped up the development of our world.

This way, we are on track in realizing the ASEAN identity that will serve as a strong foundation of our ASEAN citizenship. 

It is incumbent upon us to ensure that the process of forging our common regional destiny remains inclusive.

I am pleased to see that all of us, we in government and you in the private sector, are working together in this regard.

On this note, allow me to once again commend the Academy or ASLI and the ASEAN Leadership Forum for bridging the efforts of ASEAN governments, businesses, think tanks and civil societies.

There is a compelling ASEAN narrative that is being shaped. We are all active contributors to this story. 

Let us work together as partners in engaging the world. Let us ensure [applause]… 

Let us ensure that our ASEAN narrative remains strong and that the lessons we learned and the values we hold dear as a community are told in full and said with resonance.

Thank you and Mabuhay! 

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