MANILA (UPDATED) - There's strength in numbers.
For the first time, five former and present Philippine presidents gathered together in one room to discuss policy and chart a course for the future of the country.
Photos taken by Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar showed former Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III in Malacanang Palace for a National Security Council meeting with incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte.
Malacañang said an overview of the road map for peace and development was presented in the first council meeting under the Duterte administration.
The council was also given an update on the government's campaign against illegal drugs.
Charter change and a shift to federalism was also discussed in the meeting.
Duterte decided to convene the NSC in the wake of arbitral tribunal's ruling invalidating China's massive South China Sea claim, the Palace said.
Ramos, a member of the council, earlier agreed to become Manila's special envoy to Beijing.
Malacañang earlier said Duterte would convene the NSC ''in order to agree on vital policies and strategies on important matters, including the recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea."
The council is composed of 35 leader-members from the executive and legislative branches of government, such as Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the majority and minority leaders of both Houses of Congress, chairs of Senate and House committees involved in national security concerns, and various members of the Cabinet.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas told ABS-CBN News he also attended the meeting as part of the House contingent.
-- with reports from Willard Cheng and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News