Duterte seeks WEF support in drug war

The Philippine Star
Duterte seeks WEF support in drug war

 President Duterte attends the opening of the World Economic Forum on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia yesterday.

PHNOM PENH – A drug-free environment is needed for the sustained growth of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, President Duterte told the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN here yesterday.

Addressing over 700 participants including more than 450 business leaders from 15 industry sectors, the President defended his brutal war on illegal drugs, saying the threat posed by the drug menace is real. But he was silent on allegations of extrajudicial killings raised against his government.

“We cannot turn a blind eye on the scourge of illegal drugs that threatens our youth and the future of our societies. We need to take a committed stand to dismantle and destroy the illegal drug trade apparatus,” Duterte told the WEF participants. “We must reaffirm our commitment to realize a drug-free ASEAN community.”

Duterte was among the heads of state and government who addressed the forum. The others were Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

Other ASEAN members are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand. The Philippines is its current chair.

The WEF on ASEAN gathers more than 700 participants from 40 countries.

Duterte emphasized how 50 years ago, the ASEAN founding leaders heeded the call for unity and acted with dedication, determination and foresight for the sake of the region.

“Five decades hence, ASEAN has a compelling narrative (for) our world. ASEAN is now closer to achieving ‘One Vision, One Identity and One Community.’ But the ASEAN story does not end here. This is a continuing tale that we must shape and build for the interest of our peoples,” he said.

Duterte noted how ASEAN managed to overcome initial difficulties to become a more united region of great promise and substantial progress.

“Guided by common values and shared aspirations, ASEAN is at the core of regionalism in Southeast Asia. ASEAN’s 10 member-states now stand firmly at the center of the future of the Asia-Pacific region,” the President said, noting that ASEAN is becoming a significant global player and an emerging economic powerhouse.

The President said the Philippines would do its part in realizing the goals of ASEAN.

“ASEAN member-states will do their part as well. Join us and together let us be partners in an enduring engagement to bring positive change for our world and our region,” Duterte said.

He also said ASEAN plays a key role in promoting peace and stability in the region and is now the world’s sixth largest economy – the third largest consumer base.

“ASEAN stands at the crossroads of global trade flows,” he said.

“Our young population is producing a demographic dividend. Understandably, there is increased investor confidence in our region,” Duterte said.

But while ASEAN celebrates its achievements, Duterte said they recognize that more needs to be done for the people.

“We continue to face many challenges: integration and connectivity efforts have to be ramped up; (technological) changes impact on the work force as well the as trade and investment, and capital flows; transnational crime threatens to undermine economic progress and development gaps threaten to hold us back from achieving the inclusive growth for our peoples,” he said.

The President left for Hong Kong after his engagements in the WEF on ASEAN here last night.

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