ANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday stressed the importance of defeating the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic (Covid-19) and settling the South China Sea (SCS) dispute at the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and related summits under the Presidency of Brunei.
Duterte made the remarks during his “productive discussions” with other leaders in Southeast Asia, as well as with leaders of South Korea and China, at the virtual opening of the 38th and 39th summits of the ‘ASEAN and related summits, the President’s Office (OP) said in a press release.
“Speaking at the 38th ASEAN summit, President Duterte stressed that ASEAN’s road to recovery from Covid-19 will be long and difficult as the region is still reeling from the pandemic,” said declared the PO.
Duterte, the palace said, stressed the need to ensure the âgradual and comprehensiveâ implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework which contains initiatives and strategies that will help the region recover from the crisis. Covid-19.
He also called for the immediate creation of the ASEAN Center on Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases which will serve as ASEAN’s hub to strengthen its capacities for emergency preparedness, prevention, detection and response. public health and emerging diseases.
Duterte, in his intervention at the 24th ASIAN-China summit, said the “dynamic” ASIAN-China cooperation would help the two sides “fight the Covid -19 pandemic, tackle climate change and deal with geopolitical issues.” .
“He thanked China for supporting the response to the Asean pandemic, in particular by making life-saving vaccines a global public good,” the PO said.
During the summit, Duterte also renewed his appeal to his fellow ASEAN leaders to remain united in the pursuit of peace, stability and prosperity in the SCS, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 arbitration award.
âWe have come a long way to maintain peace and promote prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with competing interests to frustrate our efforts, âsaid Duterte.
The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam are the four ASEAN member states with competing claims in SCS.
The other SCS applicants are China and Taiwan.
MalacaÃ±ang said Duterte called on asylum seekers to remain committed to the full implementation of the 2002 Non-Binding Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea, pending the development of a final and binding code of conduct (COC) in hotly contested waters.
The DOC, inked on November 4, 2002, aims to exercise restraint and promote non-militarization within the SCS. On the other hand, the COC of SCS intends to promote peace and stability in the busy waterway.
âDiscussions should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to build the confidence that we have cultivated over the years. Acta non verba. Actions, not words, âsaid Duterte.
Noting the Philippines ‘contribution to the substantial progress of the second reading of the COC’s single draft negotiating text, Duterte also reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to conclude an “effective and substantial” maritime code, the PO said.
Duterte also reiterated the Philippines’ call for âholisticâ efforts to protect and preserve biodiversity and the marine environment, noting that 2017 to 2027 is the âDecade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in SCSâ.
In addition to the Covid-19 pandemic and the SCS disputes, Duterte also urged his fellow ASEAN leaders to stand with Myanmar to “peacefully resolve its crisis for the well-being of its people,” the palace said.
“The president urged all parties in Myanmar to engage in constructive dialogue, stressing that the ASEAN special envoy should be allowed to travel to Myanmar soon to meet with all parties concerned,” said MalacaÃ±ang.
During the 22nd Asia-South Korea summit, the president welcomed the joint statement on the advancement of their cooperation and stressed the need for “deeper” regional integration to accelerate post-pandemic recovery.
“He (Duterte) welcomed the signing of the Philippines-ROK free trade agreement today,” which is necessary for our economies to recover and rebound, “the PO said.
Duterte, said MalacaÃ±ang, also pushed for the full implementation of the Asia-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership Agreement.
The palace said Duterte also welcomed the UK as ASEAN’s new dialogue partner and pledged to strengthen ties with the European Union (EU) as the new national coordinator for dialogue relations. between ASEAN and the EU.
The main Filipino officials who joined Duterte at the first virtual summits were Secretaries Teodoro Locsin Jr. (Foreign Affairs), Delfin Lorenzana (Defense), Ramon Lopez (Commerce), Joselito Bautista (Social Worker) and Carlito Galvez Jr. (Group National Working Against Covid-19 Implementer and Vaccine Tsar), the PO said. (ANP)