THE chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has been turned over to Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte. The chairmanship of this economic group is rotated among the Asean members every year.

Article 31 of the ASEAN's charter reads, "the chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of member states."

Although there are exceptions that are arrived at depending on circumstances, like Thailand being the chair for two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009 for reasons Sun.Star could not find the answer to as of presstime. Otherwise, it's rotated.

Because of the rotation only three other Philippine presidents became Asean chair, they are President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006, President Joseph E. Estrada in 1999, and President Corazon C. Aquino in 1987.

The countries and corresponding years they chaired the Asean are as follows: Indonesia - 1976, 1996, 2003, and 2011; Malaysia - 1977, 1997, 2005, and 2015; Singapore -1992, 2000, and 2007; Thailand - 1995, 2008, and 2009; Vietnam - 1998 and 2010; Brunei Darussalam - 2001 and 2013; Cambodia - 2002 and 2012; Lao PDR - 2004 and 2016, and; Myanmar in 2014.

That it is under Duterte's tenure when the Philippines' turn came and that it coincides with the 50th year of Asean means there is a lot ahead for us, which we should take advantage of lest lose this once in a lifetime opportunity still wallowing in poverty and discord.

A 50th year will be celebrated and marketed. To let this opportunity just pass through and to just continue sowing discord because international relations would mean more exploitation is assuming that our people will always be the exploited. But that will be so if our country will forever be poor.

Power always comes with economic growth and potentials, it is only when the people are raised from abject poverty that they will be able to dictate how their lives will proceed from there.

President Duterte has listed six thematic priorities for Asean under his watch: people oriented, people centered Asean; peace and stability; maritime security and cooperation; inclusive, innovation-led growth; resilient Asean; and Asean as a model of regionalism, a global player. Let's take it up from there and build our future from it.