What Filipinos got from the ASEAN Summit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 15) — The main event of the country's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) drew to a close on Tuesday, with Manila achieving gains on some key economic and political concerns.

"The billions of pesos and the thousands of manpower hours spent preparing for and hosting more than 260 meetings… are the Philippines' contribution and investment in building an integrated region for the benefit of the future generations of Filipinos," a government statement read.

"Twenty, 30, 40 years from now, our children and grandchildren can call not only their province or city or country, but rather the whole Southeast Asian region… their home," it added.

The Philippines set aside ₱15.5 billion for year-round activities as the regional bloc marked its 50th anniversary. Government cancelled classes and work in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Pampanga provinces during the Summit.

The 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits gathered leaders from the ten ASEAN member countries and their dialogue partners from November 10 to 14. The Philippines turned over the chairmanship to Singapore on Tuesday.

World leaders discussed hot topics from economic integration and extremism to trade and territorial dispute - both during the summits and bilateral meetings on the sidelines. But behind the diplomatic push, what does the average Filipino stand to gain from these high-level meetings? Here are the highlights.

Migrant rights

At the centerpiece of the Philippines' chairmanship is the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

The agreement is expected to benefit over 200,000 Filipino migrant workers across the region. It provides for visits by family members for workers accused of crimes, reinforces workers' rights to join trade unions and associations, prohibits passport confiscation and overcharging of recruitment fees, as well as regulates recruiters for better protection of workers.

READ: ASEAN signs Consensus to protect, promote migrant workers' rights

The agreement also provides for respect for gender and nationality and protection against violence and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Labor ministers are working on an action plan to implement the Consensus.

Rebuilding Marawi

All leaders mentioned the threat of terrorism during their meetings with Duterte, the President himself said in a media briefing after closing the event.

In an official visit in Malacañang on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged 150 million yuan (over ₱1.15 billion) in grants to help rebuild Marawi and provide livelihood for displaced residents.

This would benefit more than 300,000 residents who were forced to evacuate their homes during the five-month war against ISIS-inspired terrorists. The government declared the end of combat operations on October 24, less than a month before the ASEAN Summit.

ASEAN leaders adopted a Manila declaration ministers forged in September which called for stronger cooperation against radicalization and violent extremism.

Japan vowed Tuesday to provide roughly ₱6.7 billion in assistance to help strengthen the country's maritime surveillance capability.

South China Sea

The 31st ASEAN Summit brought back a provision into the final Chairman's Statement that implied a reference to the 2015 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration recognizing the Philippines' claims over the South China Sea.

Duterte on Tuesday said he will only bring up the ruling with China 'maybe once' during his presidency.

READ: Duterte will raise arbitral ruling 'maybe once' in his term

The 30th ASEAN Chairman's statement in April drew flak after it removed a reference indicating respect for international law, supposedly at the pressure of Beijing.

However, some experts claimed the new statement played safe, as it failed to call out China's militarization and land reclamation in the area.

READ: Analyst: ASEAN Chairman's statement 'plays safe' on South China Sea issue

ASEAN and China also announced on Monday the beginning of negotiations for a code of conduct on South China Sea. The framework for the code, a one-page outline that should guide discussions, was approved in August.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte wants the code of conduct legally binding.

On a lighter note, ASEAN and China signed a Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea, expected to last from 2017 to 2027.

Free trade

Trade barriers between Hong Kong and ASEAN, including the Philippines, will be reduced after the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit on Sunday.

Hong Kong was the Philippines' third largest trading partner in 2015 with a total trade of $8.231 billion (around ₱421.7 billion at the current exchange rate).

READ: ASEAN, Hong Kong sign free trade, investment agreements

Another welcome development from the sidelines of the summit, U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to consider signing an FTA with the Philippines. This was proposed by President Rodrigo Duterte during their bilateral talk on Monday.

An FTA with the U.S. would further improve trade relations between the long-standing allies. In May 2017 alone, the Philippines exported $772.50 million (around ₱39.4 billion) to the U.S. The U.S. is the country's second biggest market in terms of revenue for that month.

READ: PH pushes for free-trade agreements with U.S.

Justin Trudeau's charm

Meanwhile, Filipinos were charmed by social media favorite Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who gained more attention when he stopped by a local fast food chain and visited babies and their mothers at a health center.

LOOK: Justin Trudeau visits Jollibee, women's center

However, the 45-year-old Trudeau was also bombarded with questions on the dumping of 2,450 tons of Canadian waste to the country in 2013. He said their government is engaged in finding solutions to ship the waste back to Canada, but they still have questions as to who will shoulder the expenses.

Canada also promised to invest ₱715 million over five years on access to reproductive health in the Philippines, in a pledge expected to benefit over 85,000 women and girls.

READ: Canada to invest ₱715 million on PH reproductive health

Human rights concerns

However, the Canadian Prime Minister's charm did not work on the tough-talking Duterte, particularly when he raised his concern about human rights and extrajudicial killings.

The President said in a media briefing on Tuesday he would not explain his anti-drug campaign to foreigners. He said he finds world leaders "insulting" if they criticize the drug war. This response was contrary to Trudeau's claim that Duterte was "receptive" when he raised the topic.

READ: Duterte 'insulted' by how world leaders raised human rights

In contrast, Duterte got along with U.S. President Donald Trump. After releasing conflicting statements on whether human rights issues were discussed in a bilateral meeting, the two countries released a joint statement that said human rights and the dignity of life were "essential." It added the Philippines and U.S. would "continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs."

University of the Philippines law professor Jay Batongbacal noted that Trump seemed to be "passive" when it came to human rights issues in the Philippines.

"Naturally, if [Duterte] was the one who brought it up, it would be in a way that is favorable to him," he said. "In that sense, he had control of how it was discussed."

Despite criticism from the international community and human rights watchdogs, a drug war policy change seems unlikely. However, Duterte has since tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to lead the war on drugs after surveys showed growing distrust in policemen.

READ: PNP Chief: PDEA lead in drug war shows 'President isn't a dictator'

"I will answer the fisherman and the farmer and I will explain to them patiently why it is so. But I will never, never allow a foreigner to question me," said Duterte in pointing out whom he would be responsible to.

CNN Philippines' digital producer Amanda Lingao contributed to this report.