President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Friday returned to his hometown, Davao City, after attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia.
In his arrival speech at the Davao International Airport, Duterte said he personally conveyed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo the Philippines’ condolences to Indonesian people who suffered successive earthquakes and tsunami.
The President said Indonesia welcomed the humble assistance coursed through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management.
More or less P27 million worth of assistance, including P10.8 million worth of relief goods, tents, generators, and family and medical kits was extended by the Philippines to Central Sulawesi, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
“In times of need, Indonesia was ready to help. Now, we are giving back. That’s the ASEAN way. That’s our duty as brother and a neighbor,” Duterte said.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he engaged in interaction with fellow ASEAN leaders and heads of international institutions to stress the importance of ASEAN-centered efforts to achieve progress.
“At the meeting, I reiterated the Philippines’ national priorities of inclusive growth, stable and secure environment, [and] economic integration in the region,” Duterte said.
“I stressed the importance of a stronger ASEAN in order to sustain the efforts towards greater peace, progress and prosperity [for] Southeast Asia and its peoples,” he added.
Duterte stressed that ASEAN, as a regional bloc, should also capitalize on its strength to “maintain its steady growth path.”
“I emphasized that we should invest in ourselves and within ASEAN,” Duterte said.
He pointed out that investing within ASEAN is the only way to “ensure resiliency amid the challenges of trade tensions, threats to security and stability, and increasing natural calamities.”
The President, meanwhile, vowed to work closely with ASEAN and key global institutions promote “the greater common good.”
On the sidelines of the ASEAN meet, Duterte also met Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to discuss the delineation of maritime boundaries.
“I told him that in due time, but we will take a longer period for we have to establish even our continental shelf limits,” Duterte said.
“We both committed to work more closely to achieve shared goals for stability in the region,” he added.