Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte said during his arrival on Saturday at the Davao International Airport that his two trips abroad as the new head of the state were successful.
The President attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits that started on September 6 in Vientiane, Laos and also went for a working visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, with both foreign trips centered on “advancing the national interests of the Filipinos in the regional and world community.”
Duterte spoke with ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners concerning significant global issues affecting regional stability, prosperity, peace, and security, among which is the issue on the South China Sea.
He expressed the nation’s concern over the developments in the disputed waters but likewise emphasized committing to peaceful settlement based on international law.
He also encouraged other leaders to support individual and collective efforts in bringing stability and security in the South China Sea by way of a rules-based approach in resolving maritime disputes.
Likewise, he expressed gratitude to Philippine partners for their solidarity and sympathy on the recent terrorism incident and violent extremism in Mindanao, as well as encouraged leaders to collaborate and intensify efforts in addressing the growing problem.
On September 2, a bomb blast rocked Roxas City night market in Davao City, Mindanao, where Duterte was former mayor before elected as President, which killed 14 persons and wounded 70 others.
His daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is now the mayor of said city, offered a bounty of Php3 million for the suspect’s capture whose sketch was released to the media.
Vice Mayor Abdulwahab Sabal of Talitay, Maguindanao, tagged in various reports as a “narco-vice mayor,” and three companions are under investigation for suspected involvement in the blast.
Amid his controversial crackdown on the illegal drugs trade in the Philippines, he guaranteed ASEAN neighbors that government actions, in its fight against the drug menace, remain within the boundaries of law.
He then asked for greater regional cooperation in law enforcement and capacity building.
At the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, he announced that the country is “open for business,” adding that his administration will perform its part in creating a business environment that is conducive to micro, small, and medium businesses.
Meanwhile, Indonesian President Joko Widodo welcomed Duterte in his working visit to Indonesia.
Among the issues discussed by the two leaders are the prohibition of piracy and of lawless elements at sea, the advancement of greater economic cooperation and integration, and the enforcement of laws and building capabilities to fight criminality and illegal drug trade.
Duterte also met with the Filipino community in Jakarta, thanking and reminding them for their contribution to the socio-economic development back home.
He also reminded them to be respectful of the laws of the country hosting them.
“In our relations with the world, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy,” he said, insisting of observing “time-honored principles of sovereign equality, non-interference, and the commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes” for the protection of the interests of his country and to best serve his constituents.
At the summit, Duterte received the ASEAN chairmanship just in time with the alliance celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017.