ASEAN Leaders during the Opening Ceremony of the 32nd Summit in Singapore. From left to right: Tun Musa Hitam (Malaysia), U Win Myint (Myanmar),
Rodrigo Roa Duterte (Philippines), Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Vietnam), Lee Hsien Loong (Singapore), Prayut Chan-o-cha (Thailand), Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei),
Samdech Hun Sen (Cambodia), Joko Widodo (Indonesia), Thongloun Sisoulith (Laos)
(Photo credit: ASEAN2018 Organising Committee)
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte is set to depart for Singapore to attend the 33rd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit from November 13 to 15.
He will be joining other ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners in the said event.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) revealed some of the agenda that the ASEAN leaders are expected to address such as infrastructure development, economic integration, issues regarding the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, as well as transnational and transboundary issues including terrorism, violent extremism and illicit drugs among others.
The heads of states will also hold the second summit on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) although leaders are not expected to conclude the negotiations on the matter in the summit.
RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement among the ten ASEAN member countries.
“We were hoping that the RCEP would be concluded by the time of the Summit but it seems that we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. During the Summit, the leaders would express their commitment to conclude the negotiations because this is very important for the region, especially in view of the rising trade developments, tensions, unilateral actions, and we expect the leaders to call for the expeditious conclusion of the RCEP,” said DFA Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Juniver Mahilum-West.
Meanwhile, it is highly expected that the leaders will discuss matters regarding the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea. The Philippines is in charge of the coordinatorship on ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership this year until 2021.
“And we are quite sure that the South China Sea, as I’ve mentioned before, would be one of those regional developments that would be taken up in the Summit. As to the detail of the discussions, I cannot say but for sure there’s going to be discussion on the South China Sea,” the Assistant Secretary said.
Leaders are expected to release outcome documents after the summits.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump will not attend the November summit. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will attend on his behalf. Reports said Trump will travel to Paris to attend the 100th commemoration of Armistice that ended World War I.
Nevertheless, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be in attendance at the Summit.
The DFA said that about four to five leaders have requested an audience with President Duterte on the sidelines of the event. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
Duterte on urgent call for Code of Conduct: ‘My country will be the first to suffer’
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte joins other leaders from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries during the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on November 14, 2018. KARL NORMAN ALONZO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO
SINGAPORE – President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his position that a code of conduct (COC) for South China Sea is urgent as China seemed to be unstoppable in its island and facility-building on the disputed territory.
The President said that being the newly assigned country coordinator for ASEAN-China Summit, he will try his best so that “everybody will know” that such reclamation activities require “radical changes in the laws governing international waters particularly the right of free passage or the right of innocent passage.”
The Chief Executive implied that China’s three-year bargain of negotiating for a COC might bring the friction among nations into something uncontrollable, that’s why a set of rules must be hammered as soon as possible.
“China is there. That’s a reality. America and everybody should realize that they are there. So if you just keep on creating friction, little friction, one day, a bad miscalculation could thorn things, more fierce law. If anything could go wrong, it will go wrong,” the President noted during an interview before proceeding to the first Summit for the day on Thursday (November 15).
By friction, President Duterte means holding military activities that would only trigger a much larger problem.
He said it is pointless to use arms because “China is already in possession” of the disputed territory.
“It’s now in their hands, so why do you have to create frictions, strong military activity that will prompt a response from China?” he said.
President Duterte added that it is not his concern anymore if nations want to rage war against one another. However, he wants to make clear his interest in pushing for an urgent code of conduct.
“I do not mind everybody going to war, except that the Philippines is just beside those islands and if there’s a shooting there, my country will be the first to suffer. That is my only national interest there, nothing else,” the President concluded. – Marje Pelayo
Duterte in ‘top physical shape,’ gets back to business after ‘power nap’
SINGAPORE – Speculations circulated on the second day of the 33rd ASEAN Summit when the Philippine president was nowhere to be seen in some important meetings of the day.
President Rodrigo Duterte wasn’t able to attend a number of meetings like the ASEAN-Australia Informal Breakfast Summit; the ASEAN-Korea Summit; the Working lunch hosted by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit “to catch some sleep,” according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President was able to attend the ASEAN-China Summit as the new country coordinator for the ASEAN-China dialogue relations in which he delivered the ASEAN Common Statement.
He likewise witnessed the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and the ASEAN on Economic Cooperation.
He also had a bilateral meeting with ASEAN host and Singapore Prime Minister Lee over some mutual cooperation beneficial to both countries’ people.
The President also attended important gatherings of the ASEAN members with dialogue partners including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview Thursday morning (November 15), the President seemed displeased about others making a big fuss about his absence.
He assured he is in good shape to attend all engagements for the day.
When asked if he had enough power nap yesterday, the President replied, “Still not good enough but enough to sustain the endurance for the last day. What’s wrong with my nap?”
According to Panelo, “the President is set to participate in the rest of the summits and a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister.”
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and well-being,” Panelo said.
“The President’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape,” he concluded. – Marje Pelayo
China agrees to work on Code of Conduct for South China Sea ‘in three years’ time
ASEAN leaders take center stage for photo opportunity during the ASEAN-China Summit on November 14, 2018.
SINGAPORE – For the first time after more than two decades, China has finally spoken of a clear time frame on negotiating for a final code of conduct in the hotly-disputed territories in the South China Sea.
During his opening remarks at the ASEAN-China Summit on Wednesday (November 14), Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang said China acknowledges the differences among countries in the region but noted that the atmosphere has already improved through the years even amid the decade-long dispute as neighboring countries “have found the way to properly managed and diffuse differences.”
In fact, Prime Minister Li said, China has now agreed for a time frame to negotiate specifically on the establishment of a code of conduct in South China Sea.
“In the past years, overall peace in the South China Sea have been maintained. Now the situation is moving towards greater stability for this year. Thanks to the concerted efforts from all the parties, we have reached the single draft negotiating text and we have agreed to finish the first reading of the text in 2019,” he said.
“On that basis, China is ready to work with all the ASEAN countries toward concluding COC consultations in three-years time. It is our hope that we can set of a time frame so that in three- years time the COC will become a set of rules contributing to peace and stability in the South China Sea that will also be conducive to free trade and the further upgrading of our free trade area,” the Prime Minister added.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, being the ASEAN-China dialogue relations coordinator, delivered the ASEAN’s commitment with China in working towards “the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the expeditious conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).”
He added that ASEAN and China are now “in progress in the initial phase of the COC” while looking forward to the completion of the first reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text by 2019.
“As co-chair of the COC negotiations, the Philippines will continue to work closely together with the ASEAN Member States and China for the early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC,” Duterte said while both parties agree to maintain peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.
In 1995, China took control of Mischief Reef in Spratlys Island that is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (ECC).
The Philippines, in response, lodged a protest through the regional bloc.
The dispute with China reached the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague which ruled in 2016 that China has no legal basis for claiming the territories in the South China Sea. – Marje Pelayo