PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to take an "active and constructive" part as he formally took over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) for 2017, Sunday, January 15.
Speaking before some 1,000 Asean delegates from 10-member countries at the SMX Convention Center-Lanang in Davao City, the President said the Philippines, as chair, will continue to be steadfast in upholding the ideas in the realization of the economic region's aspirations - to be one stable, resilient and prosperous regional community.
"In this (chairmanship) journey, I call all Filipinos to take an active and constructive part during the Philippine Chairmanship," Duterte said.
"Now more than ever, it is our spirit of 'Bayanihan' that has helped define us as a responsible leader of our region (Asean) during this crucial time," the President said.
Duterte called Asean member partners to rededicate and commit anew to the principles and advocacies of the association as he also he appealed for their unwavering support and continue their important role in the region's security and stability.
He urged all Asean dialogue partners to renew their dedication to the values purposes and principles in the treaty of amity and cooperation including non-interference in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect to the rule of law.
"We are in this journey together, at this golden opportunity for all, to work an Asean that is taking a firm and secure a place in a community of nations; an Asean that has its own significant role in effecting positive change," the President added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, for his part, said this chairmanship is a distinct leadership opportunity for the Philippines.
This year, there will be a total of 118 Asean-related meetings spread out to selected cities in the Philippines, he said.
The host cities are Manila, Cebu, and Davao City.
Lawyer Tristan Dwight Domingo, Davao City assistant city administrator also said "this event puts Davao City in the limelight that it deserves an avenue to be recognized in the international arena."
Asean 2017 will have six thematic priorities: people oriented, people centered Asean; peace and stability; maritime security and cooperation; inclusive, innovation-led growth; resilient Asean; and Asean a model of regionalism, a global player.
Anchored on the theme "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, the event is seen to generate more business opportunities in Mindanao and will serve as platform to showcase the beauty of the city in the international stage.
Other Asean-related events which will be hosted in Davao City are Economic Ministry and Finance Ministry Business Conference which are expected to take place on March and July 2017 while Cebu and Clark will also host a summit on April and November, respectively.
Delegates will be coming from 10 countries namely Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar or Burma, Cambodia, Brunei, and the Philippines.
During the launching, the commemorative P1 coin and special stamp were unveiled.
Economic gains eyed
The Mindanao business community is upbeat that the chairmanship of the Philippines for the Asean 2017 will pave way for more economic gains especially in Mindanao.
Mindanao Development Authority deputy executive director assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro told SunStar Davao, in an interview Wednesday, that as host country, the advantage point is on our side.
“As host country, we will have the opportunity to attract more support. We have the momentum to push for specific agenda that will redown to both economic and social benefits to the country (and) that is where the Philippines can draw experiences from with its chairmanship this year of Asean,” he said.
He added that a number of issues are set to be tackled this year at a regional level as one economic community.
“The chairmanship comes as a strategic opportune time as we have a President (Rodrigo Duterte) with a strong political capital, high ratings and admired in the international community by many global leaders,” Montenegro said.
Duterte, in the end of his speech said, "Let us all work hand in hand to make Asean's vision a reality enjoyed by all." (with KVC)