(Eagle News) – Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night (November 14) officially handed over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who will be hosting the ASEAN Summit next year.
The official hand-over of the ASEAN chairmanship was done as the Philippines concluded the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits and brought its regional meeting of 21 world leaders to a close.
During the summit’s closing ceremonies marked by grand performances displaying Filipino talent, Duterte also thanked the leaders of the ASEAN and the dialogue partners for making the Philippines’ chairmanship of the ASEAN a hugely successful and fruitful one.
“We have come to the conclusion of our series of meetings during the past two days. It was an honor having fruitful and productive exchanges with you on issues of regional and global importance which we hope to translate into concrete actions that would benefit the peoples of our region,” he said.
The two-day summit saw leaders of the 10-member bloc meet with their dialogue partners from the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and discussed a range of issues from trade to security cooperation.
“We hope that you have taken with you the warmth of the Filipino hospitality,” Duterte said.
He also noted a number of declarations that had been completed and signed including the ASEAN consensus on the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers, and the progress on the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
“We have finally completed and signed moments ago the ASEAN Consensus on the [Promotion and Protection] of the Rights of Migrant Workers. This historic governmental document is our promise to our people to strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services, among others,” Duterte said.
At the end of his speech, Duterte handed over the ASEAN chairmanship gavel to Prime Minister Lee, and stressed the Philippines’ commitment to help build a stronger and more resilient ASEAN community.
“I have the honor to hand over the chairmanship of the ASEAN to the Republic of Singapore effective January 1, 2018,” the 72-year old Philippine leader said.
“The Philippines will be working with you … in moving the ASEAN community forward,” Duterte said.
After receiving the gavel, Lee commended Duterte for the successful chairmanship of the ASEAN at the time when the regional bloc was celebrating its 50th year.
“May I congratulate President Rodrigo Duterte on the Philippines successful chairmanship of the ASEAN,” Prime Minister Lee said.
With the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” the Philippines was able to work for the security and growth of the people of ASEAN during its year of chairmanship, Lee noted.
Singapore’s Prime Minister cited the Philippines’ achievements as ASEAN chair particularly the finalization of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea, the free trade agreement between ASEAN and Hong Kong, and the signing of the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers.
Counter-terrorism was widely discussed in the two-day meeting, Singapore Prime Minister said in a speech taking over the chairmanship. Issues on North Korea and the South China Sea were also expected to have been discussed in the meetings.
Lee explained that the theme for next year’s ASEAN chairmanship by Singapore is “resilience and innovation.”
He said that this theme will move the ASEAN forward in this digital age.