MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening left for Singapore to attend the 32nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on April 27 and 28.
Duterte will be attending two important engagements during his Singapore trip: the working dinner and the ASEAN leaders’ retreat, where the President and his fellow Southeast Asian leaders are expected to talk about pressing regional issues in a more intimate setting.
“[Singaporean] Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s invitation provides the opportunity for Southeast Asian nations to continue working closely to further strengthen community-building and advance greater peace, security and stability in the region,” Duterte said in his departure speech.
“As a responsible state, the Philippines remains committed to engage our partners to achieve the change that we want and need.”
On the sidelines of the summit, the President is also expected to hold bilateral and pull-aside meetings with several ASEAN leaders, including Singapore’s Lee and Indonesia’s Joko Widodo.
Duterte is also expected to meet with the Filipino community in Singapore and several business leaders on April 28.
He said the Philippines would promote the further implementation and operationalization of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, signed during the Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship last year.
“Rest assured that your Government will take every opportunity and use every available venue to uphold, protect and promote the rights of our countrymen working abroad,” he said.
Duterte said this year’s ASEAN Summit theme “Resilience and Innovation” would help follow through with priorities the Philippines pursued during its ASEAN chairmanship last year.
“Technology and innovation will be key instruments in achieving inclusive and sustainable growth. With technology and innovation, we can also further enhance regional interconnectivity and address traditional and emerging threats,” he said.
During the summit, ASEAN leaders are also expected to tackle regional issues, including terrorism, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, and the South China Sea dispute. Observers, however, expect little progress on these issues.