MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte, who is set to join his fellow Southeast Asian leaders at the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Thailand on November 2-4, “arrived safely” in Thailand on Friday night, Malacañang said.
“We confirm that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has arrived safely on Bangkok, Thailand tonight (Friday), November 1, to begin Day One of his participation at the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
This is Duterte’s fourth visit to Thailand. The first visit was in November 2016 to pay his respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej; the second, in March 2017 for an official visit; and the third, last June for the 34th Asean Summit.
Upon his arrival at the Royal Thai Air Force in Bangkok at about 8:52 p.m, Friday, the President was welcomed by Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Chief of Protocol Vosit Vorasup, Philippine Ambassador to Thailand Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon, and the Philippines’ Chief Protocol Robert Borje, Panelo said.
Thailand chairs this year’s Asean Summit, which will focus on advancing partnerships for sustainability.
Panelo said this year’s Asean theme is a “subject matter close to President Duterte.”
“He (Duterte) himself believes in — and has publicly articulated in numerous occasions the importance of — promoting respectful friendships and responsible partnerships, as well as meaningful cooperation, to realize his vision of inclusive growth and sustainable development for the Philippines,” he said.
Leaders to discuss South China Sea disputes. other regional issues
Duterte is expected to attend two important engagements in Bangkok, the working dinner and a retreat with Asean leaders, wherein they are expected to talk about pressing regional issues in a more intimate setting.
He is also expected to hold bilateral and pull-aside meetings with several Asean leaders and other world leaders on the sidelines of the conferences.
In a press statement on Friday, the Palace said the President would join other Southeast Asian leaders and dialogue partners “to advance Asean’s community-building agenda, aimed at ensuring greater peace, security, and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.”
Malacañang noted that Duterte and his fellow Southeast Asian leaders would tackle regional issues, such as “developments in the South China Sea and other security concerns, particularly terrorism, illicit drug trafficking, and other transnational crimes.”
It added that the Asean leaders would exchange views on pressing issues, among them the “trade tensions, geopolitical shifts, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
In line with this year’s Asean theme, the President and the nine other Asean leaders would explore ways to “further promote inclusive and sustainable development and address the challenges posed by climate change, marine pollution, and other environmental issues,” the Palace said.
Malacañang said the Chief Executive would also attend one-on-one summits with China, the United States, Japan, the United Nations, and India “to examine the current status and future direction of dialogue partnerships.”
It further said that key strategic issues affecting the region’s security and growth prospects would be discussed at the Asean Plus Three Summit with Japan, China and South Korea.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a separate statement earlier Friday, said Duterte’s participation in the Asean summit and related summits would help “further enhance economic growth within a peaceful environment, and regional and global stability in the years to come.”
The Palace noted that there would be more than 40 outcome documents anticipated to be signed at the end of the 35th Asean Summit.
“They will serve as blueprints for the region’s collective pursuit of a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable Asean Community,” it said.
Part of the official Philippine delegation are Panelo; secretaries Martin Andanar (communication), Teodoro Locsin Jr. (foreign affairs), Carlos Dominguez III (finance), Ramon Lopez (trade), Rolando Bautista (social welfare), Alfonso Cusi (energy), and Ernesto Pernia (socioeconomic planning); Philippine Permanent Representative to Asean Noel Servigon; and Bernardo-Aragon.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, through Special Order 1182 signed by Duterte on October 30, has been designated as the government’s officer-in-charge to “take care of the day-to-day operations in the Office of the President and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department.” (PNA)