MANILA, Nov 13 (Bernama) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged leaders attending the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits here to strengthen their fight against terrorism, piracy and armed robbery in the seas, and illegal drugs that threaten peace and stability in the region.
Speaking at the opening of the summits, Duterte mentioned at the outset the Philippine government forces’ victory in liberating Marawi City from terrorist groups who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (Daesh).
Thanking ASEAN and international friends for providing assistance, the President said they were now in the process of helping people back on their feet to reclaim their lives.
“I apologise for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to emphasise that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance,” he said.
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, attended the opening ceremony along with the other ASEAN Leaders, among them Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Also attending the high-profile summits were US President Donald Trump, Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Malcolm Turnbull of Australia and Shinzo Abe of Japan, and Premier Li Keqiang of China.
More than 900 militants, 165 troops and policemen and 47 civilians were killed in the last five months when militants aligned with the Islamic State (Daesh) group tried to capture the city, forcing about 200,000 residents to flee to safety.
Duterte, whose controversial war on drugs is said to have claimed an estimated 13,000 lives, also said that the menace of illegal drug trade continued to endanger the very fabric of societies.
“These and other issues are high on the agenda of our meetings along with the other non-traditional security issues that challenge the prosperity of our economies, the integrity of our institutions and, more importantly, the safety of our people,” he added.
He called on other leaders to look at the progress of ASEAN community building, the direction of cooperation with dialogue partners as well as that of the ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit.
Duterte also said that ASEAN member states have come to an agreement on the ASEAN consensus on the protection and promotion of rights of migrant workers, which will be signed by the leaders on Tuesday.
“This landmark document would strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services for our people,” he said.