Duterte calls on ASEAN to redouble efforts vs. illegal drugs, terrorism

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte joins leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states during the 34th ASEAN Summit plenary session in Bangkok, Thailand Saturday.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday called on his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to redouble efforts to counter threats of terrorism, extremism, transnational crimes, and the proliferation of illegal drugs.

“They divide our communities, destroy families, and undermine the growth we fought hard to achieve. Illegal drugs, in particular, corrode the very fabric of our societies. We must redouble our collective efforts to counter these threats effectively and with finality,” Duterte said in his intervention during the 34th ASEAN Summit Plenary session in Bangkok, Thailand.

The President also expressed concern over the movement of people in the ASEAN region, as migrants and persons with disabilities are vulnerable sectors.

“It is imperative that we promote and protect their rights, especially those who are vulnerable. Let us, therefore, implement more effectively ASEAN instruments that combat human trafficking and promote the rights of migrants and persons with disabilities,” he added.

On economic woes

Duterte also touched on the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, citing that the tit-for-tat tariffs the two countries impose on one another is taking a toll on global economic growth.

“It could hinder the ongoing processes of economic integration. The U.S. and China must both take the high road and resolve their differences before the situation spirals out of control,” the Philippine President said.

The President said ASEAN member-states must strengthen its support for a “rules-based” and “open multilateral trading system.” The regional bloc has already established the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement in 1992, which helps eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers as well as inviting more foreign investors.

On the climate crisis

Duterte told his fellow Southeast Asian leaders to hold countries most responsible for the climate crisis.

“Natural disasters occur more frequently and at an intensity unseen before – be it typhoon, drought, earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption. The cost is horrendous, especially for us in Southeast Asia: Displacement, destruction, and death. Real lives hang in the balance,” he said.

The Philippine President added resilience in ASEAN countries must be improved.

The ASEAN said their region is highly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as forecasted rankings showing six of the twenty countries most at-risk to climate crisis worldwide being Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.