President Duterte to participate in 34th ASEAN Summit in Thailand

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President Rodrigo Duterte is leaving for Thailand this week to attend the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and join his fellow leaders in discussing a wide range of regional issues, a foreign affairs official said on Tuesday.

The President will participate in the summit, chaired by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, on June 22 and 23, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary and Director General of ASEAN-Philippine National Secretariat Junever Mahilum-West said in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang.

She describes President Duterte’s Thailand schedule to be “very hectic.”

According to Mahilum-West, the President will attend several important events during the summit, which include the Summit Plenary, Gala Dinner for the leaders, Leaders’ Retreat, and the 13th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.

“At the plenary session on June 22, the leaders will discuss ASEAN community building under the theme ‘Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.’ Also, there will be a Leaders’ Retreat, during which they will exchange views on ASEAN’s external relations and the way forward, as well as significant regional and international issues,” she told reporters.

A couple of bilateral meetings are still being arranged by Philippine officials and their counterparts, she said.

The crafting of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea will also be a major agenda during the ASEAN Summit in Thailand, with the Philippines being the ASEAN-China dialogue coordinator, the DFA official said.

As a coordinator from 2018 to 2021, the Philippines negotiates the ASEAN Member States and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, she explained, stressing a Code of Conduct is important to avoid mishaps like the recent incident in Recto Bank involving Filipino and Chinese fishermen.

“Because incidents like what happened emphasized the importance of having a Code of Conduct so that we could prevent these incidents from happening in the future,” Mahilum-West said.

During his attendance in the Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Japan, President Duterte highlighted the importance of a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea to ease regional tension and prevent miscalculation. PND