Duterte: ASEAN must unite; boost fight vs crime, corruption

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday emphasized the importance of unity, democracy, and diversity among all the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"We proved that our diversity is a strength rather than a weakness. We proved that regionalism - developed at our own pace and under our own terms and with our values - can work," Duterte said during his keynote speech at the Foreign Ministers' Meeting closing ceremony in Pasay City.

"We are stronger, more vibrant, and more robust as [an] ASEAN Community," he added.

The President, known for his firm stand against crime and corruption in the country, also boosted his fight as he urged the ASEAN to keep the region's security for its citizens.

"We want a region that is secure, where our people can live without fear from the lawless elements and the debilitating effects of corruption and transnational crimes," Duterte said.

The organization is set to hold its 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) and its Related Meetings on September 20 to 21.

READ: ASEAN ministers denounce land reclamation, militarization in South China Sea

Duterte, the 2017 chair of the ASEAN, also promoted diplomatic relations in the region founded on the rule of law.

"We want a region that is stable, where democratic institutions work, where nations regard each other with mutual respect and understanding and where the rule of law reigns supreme in the relations between states," Duterte said.

Sustainable, inclusive growth

Aside from peace and unity in the ASEAN, Duterte also wanted to promote economic prosperity and cultural development in the region

"With ASEAN peoples at the core of our pursuit of lasting peace and security, economic prosperity, and continued cultural development, we must endeavor to do more," the President said.

"We want a region that is sustainable and inclusive in its growth, where no one is left behind, and everyone has the opportunity for their potentials," he added.

READ: ASEAN to meet U.S., China in ministerial meetings

Duterte said the ASEAN governments must work together with the private sector to help solve poverty within the region.

"Public Private Partnership must be harnessed fully to lift our peoples from poverty. Indeed, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council's Alliance for Prosperity for All is showing how the inclusive business model can help achieve growth [for] our MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) and our peoples in the grassroots," the President said.

Golden anniversary celebration

The ASEAN also celebrated its 50th anniversary, as they honored the five founding father of the organization-former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, former Foreign Ministers Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand.

"On this day, therefore, we pay tribute to the Founding Fathers whose patriotism went beyond borders, and whose idealism drew our nations and our peoples closer together," Duterte said.

READ: ASEAN 50th anniversary celebration to recognize founding fathers

Duterte awarded plaques of recognition to the descendants and representatives of the founding fathers.

"With their legacy, they deserve a special place in our shared history. They deserve to be remembered in our collective memories. They deserve our applause," he said.

Also present in the ceremony were former ASEAN Secretaries-General Severino Rodolfo Jr. from the Philippines and Ong Keng Yong from Singapore.

The celebration also recognized the "heroes of ASEAN," or those who had valuable contributions in the fields of biodiversity conservation and protection, youth entrepreneurship, and research and development in rice science and technology.

"Their achievements augur well for our future. We must continue to nurture both talent and genius harnessed for the greater common good. Their success is ASEAN's success. We hope that with our young heroes, many more will be inspired to follow their footsteps and contribute further to the growth of our region," Duterte said.