Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Julie M. Aurelio @JMAurelioI­NQ

President Duterte upheld the country’s interests when he took part in last week’s 33rd Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits, and the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperatio­n (Apec) Leaders’ Meeting.

Malacañang gave this assurance as the President returned to Davao City on Sunday evening after his consecutiv­e trips to Singapore and Papua New Guinea.

During the summit, the President stressed the importance of Asean community-building, according to presidenti­al spokes- person Salvador Panelo.

Mutual respect

“He emphasized the need to sustain Asean efforts toward building a resilient and innovative region while underscori­ng the need for developing relations with dialogue partners based on mutual respect for sovereignt­y,” Panelo said in a statement.

Noting the Philippine­s’ role as the country coordinato­r of the Asean-China dialogue, Panelo said Mr. Duterte renewed the commitment of the regional bloc and China to the “full and effective implementa­tion of the Declaratio­n on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”

The President emphasized the need to maintain and promote peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the disputed sea, Panelo said.

Mr. Duterte, he said, also reaffirmed the importance of positive engagement­s between the regional bloc and its dialogue partners, including India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

Power naps

The President attended the Asean summit with Japan, China and Russia but skipped several events on the second day to take “power naps.”

After the Singapore summit, Mr. Duterte proceeded to Papua New Guinea to take part in the Apec meeting in Port Moresby.

At the Apec Business Advisory Council, Panelo said the President discussed the need to trade freely and fairly to spur economic activities, technology transfer and capacity building.

Panelo said Mr. Duterte also championed micro, small and medium enterprise­s (MSMEs) during the Economic Leaders’ Meetings, calling MSMEs “the backbone of many economies.”

The President also met with the Filipino community in Port Moresby, thanking them for their contributi­ons to nation building and urging them “to continue being the best representa­tives” of the country.

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