Speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Launching Ceremony for the Maiden Voyage of the ASEAN Davao-General Santos-Bitung (DGB) RoRo Shipping Network
Kudos Port, Davao City
30 April 2017

His Excellency President Joko Widodo, Madame Iriana Widodo and Ms. Kahiyang Ayu,

Distinguished members of the Indonesian Delegation,

Excellencies of the ASEAN Member States, 

Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps,

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and other members of the Cabinet,

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio,

Other distinguished guests: 

Today, we mark another milestone in the historic relations between the Philippines and Indonesia.  

Our unique bond was shaped by the vast seas that connect us. 

As early as the pre-colonial times, these vast seas provide for the route of barter trading and facilitate for the flow of people from and to our respective territories. 

During the past decades, we are further bound to strengthen our spirit of brotherhood with the forging of sister-city agreements that promote meaningful bonds of friendship among our peoples.

As we open this new maritime trade route, we reaffirm our ties with each other and commit ourselves to aspirations of the larger ASEAN Community.  

When I visited Indonesia in September last year, one of the most important commitments that I forged with President Widodo was the opening of the ASEAN  Roll-On, Roll-Off route between the Philippines and Indonesia.  

This route shall be the first of the many routes that will form the international RORO network envisioned by our fellow ASEAN leaders to provide greater accessibility and open more opportunities for our countries.  

Seven months after our meeting, I am happy to be here today with President Widodo to formally launch this maiden voyage of the ASEAN RORO Shipping Network which will cross the cities of Davao and General Santos here in Mindanao and Bitung in North Sulawesi.  

The Davao-GenSan-Bitung route will not only connect us with the rest of ASEAN. It will also physically integrate our respective archipelagos with the rest of the region. 

We are hopeful that by opening new ports and exploring possible new routes, we will stimulate trade, tourism and other areas of development among ASEAN member-states.  

This will significantly reduce the shipping time of transported goods from the usual five weeks to just two or three days. The lower logistical cost for transportation will drive competition, attract new players and increase the demand for jobs. 

This will not just strengthen intra-regional maritime connectivity among ASEAN members. It will also introduce new opportunities for trade expansion with larger and emerging economies outside our region. 

As part of the larger ASEAN RORO Shipping Network, this route will help us realize our collective goal of creating an integrated regional market and will complement our own domestic infrastructure modernization program. 

I therefore call upon the private sector to play their part in harnessing the potentials of this new RORO network. By promoting this route, you do not only take advantage of the opportunities, but also contribute to the sustainability of this entire regional shipping network. 

I once again thank President Widodo, the Government of Indonesia and our private partners for helping us make this first ASEAN Roll-On, Roll-Off route possible.  

Let this event serve as a reminder that our relationship is not just between trade partners, but between friends that are tied together by a bond that transcends borders. 

Thank you very much.

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