Duterte says objective on national interests was highlighted in ASEAN meet

President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed confidence that he was able to push for the country's and the Filipino people's national interests during the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and dialogues with regional partners.

"Hindi kayo napahiya (I did not let you down)," the President assured the people at a press briefing following his speech upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport at past 1 a.m Saturday.

The President said he was able to highlight the country's objective of pursuing an independent foreign policy.

"I repeat, the Philippines will pursue an independent foreign policy. We will observe and must insist on the time honored principles of sovereignty, sovereign equality, non-interference and in commitment of peaceful settlement of disputes that best serve our people, protecting the interests of our country," he stressed.

While he declined to assess his first foreign trip as it would be self-serving, Duterte said, "I say, a posture of confidence that I was able to deliver what we are obligated to."

Duterte said he is happy that he was able to do it during his first state visit.

"These are the things that I can sleep soundly well tonight. I would sleep on thinking that I have served my country the best the way I can," he answered when asked to assess his foreign trip.

In his speech, the President said that in the Summit and dialogues with regional partners, including his meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, he was able to promote the national interest of the Philippines and the Filipinos at the regional and world community.

He said he was able to convey to the leaders of ASEAN and its dialogue partners, issues that impact peace, security, stability and prosperity of a region.

He also voiced the country's concern over developments in the South China Sea but underscored the government's commitment to a peaceful settlement in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"And I told the leaders to support individual and collective efforts to bring security and stability in the South China Sea through the rules-based approach for resolving maritime business," he added.

Duterte said he also raised serious concern in the region over terrorism, violent extremism and the illicit drugs trade.

"I underscored the Philippines' grave concern over social illness that breeds corruption at the highest levels," Duterte said, highlighting his administration's relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

On trade, business and investments, Duterte said he clearly outlined his administration's commitment to provide an environment for businesses to thrive and prosper, including micro, small and medium enterprises.

When asked about common policies to enhance regional cooperation, Duterte emphasized that the authority provided in the Constitution would be used only to promote the best interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people. "Nothing more," he said.

Source: Philippine Information Agency