Duterte reiterates support for Myanmar, call for maritime peace during ASEAN Summit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 26)— President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted regional issues — including the crisis in Myanmar and the situation in contested waters — during his speech at the 38th and 39th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits on Tuesday.

"I am deeply concerned that the ongoing situation in Myanmar may further exacerbate the effects of the pandemic," Duterte said in his intervention.

"While focusing on comprehensive recovery efforts, we must stand with Myanmar in resolving issues peacefully and in a manner that prioritizes the welfare of its people," he added.

Duterte urged camps in Myanmar to "engage in constructive dialogue," adding that the ASEAN Special Envoy must be allowed to visit the country "to meet all relevant parties."

He also said the Philippines will have open doors for those seeking refuge from Myanmar.

Peace in South China Sea

The President likewise reiterated the call for peace and stability in the South China Sea — highlighting the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2016 arbitral award in favor of the Philippines.

"We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail," Duterte said.

"Talks should not remain empty rhetoric. They should be translated into action to fortify the trust and confidence we have cultivated through the years. Acta non verba. Deeds, not words," he added.

Duterte also reaffirmed the Philippines' commitment to help finalize an "effective and substantive" Code of Conduct in the disputed waters, with the parties already provisionally agreeing on the preamble of the text.

He also touched on the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighted measures that will help the region recover from the crisis.

The chief executive also stressed the need for urgent climate action, and pointed out the consequences of a warming climate for developing coastal countries like the Philippines.

The summits — chaired by Brunei — will run until October 28th.