PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte closed out the Philippines’ hosting of the 31st ASEAN and related summits Tuesday evening by announcing a consensus reached among nations to dialogue for a peaceful resolution of the West Philippines Sea disputes.
Duterte said that formal negotiations on a Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea will commence as agreed upon by ASEAN member-countries during the summits he described as “productive.”
The West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea refer to the same body of water on which the Philippines, China and Vietnam, among other nations, have overlapping territorial claims.
The President also cited the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as among the fruits of the ASEAN meeting in Manila.
China has agreed for the crafting of a binding COC, promising unbridled freedom of overflight and navigation in the busy waterway, said Duterte.
Duterte reported that the ASEAN held successive summits with its dialogue partners like the United States represented by no less than President Donald Trump
in addressing issues that affect the peace, security, and prosperity of the region.
He hosted the first meeting of the Leaders of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP to realize a substantial conclusion of negotiations on the economic instrument.
The leaders also had two business council meetings — the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and the East Asia Business Council.
“We looked at the progress of our cooperation with external partners and the future direction of ASEAN’s engagement with them, noting the importance of ASEAN centrality, and the reality that relations bear fruit if cooperation is anchored on mutual respect and benefit,” Duterte said.
The rising tension in the Korean Peninsula was also a major topic for the talks, particularly in the discussions involving China and the US, the President said, adding that the region cannot afford to ignite a very disastrous war.
Duterte led the symbolic turnover of the ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore as he expressed his gratitude to the press who gave extensive coverage of the country’s hosting of the 31st ASEAN Summit.
“Before I close, I wish to express my appreciation to the members of the media for your coverage throughout the year of the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN,” he said.