PRRD to attend 32nd ASEAN Summit in Singapore

MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the 32nd ASEAN Leaders Summit slated on April 27-28 upon invitation of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced Friday.

DFA Assistant Secretary Ma. Hellen De La Vega said Duterte will be joining fellow leaders of Southeast Asian countries in a working dinner set on April 27 and Leaders' Retreat on April 28.

The President would address issues that are close to his heart, especially matters that affect the well-being of the peoples of our region, she said.

She said Singapore's theme for its chairmanship of ASEAN this year is a resilient and innovative ASEAN which weaves well into thematic priorities that the Philippines adopted when it chaired ASEAN last year.

De La Vega said Duterte will continue working with fellow leaders in achieving the ASEAN Vision 2025 and other declarations focused on the overall welfare of the ASEAN citizens.

She said the Summit will also be an opportunity for leaders to address transnational and transboundary issues such as terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs and disaster management.

The official said ASEAN leaders are also expected to tackle regional and global issues that impact on the peace and security in the region.

She said the issues of the West Philippine Sea and the Rohingya refugee in Myanmar would be the regular features of the discussions.

Definitely the South China Sea is always a regular feature of our discussions. And one special, if I could just mention, is because come August, we will be taking the country coodinatorship of the dialogue with China, de La Vega said.

De La Vega said developments on the negotiations on the code of conduct (COC) in the WPS will be tackled following the first organizational meeting held recently in Vietnam.

So what we can say at this stage is that we have talked was that we will begin with the issues that can be easily tackled and then moving on to the more difficult ones, she added.

She explained the COC is not meant to resolve the territorial disputes but to manage and prevent situations that may further complicate peace and stability in the region.

On the Rohingyan refugee crisis, de La Vega said she won't be surprised if Myanmar will offer to brief the leaders on developments in Rakhine.

De La Vega said the Philippines wishes Singapore a successful chairmanship of the ASEAN, a regional bloc that has over 600 million population.

Since Singapore is set host to more than 180,000 Filipinos, De La Vega said Duterte's meeting with Filipino communities is now on the planning stage. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency