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Duterte: ASEAN leaders dream of ‘cohesive partnership with all’

A few days ahead of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits, President Rodrigo Duterte indicated that the regional bloc would eventually follow the lead of the European Union (EU).

“Well, everybody’s dream—‘yung leaders—is really to come up with a cohesive partnership with all. And, as I have said earlier, if the European Union can do it, why can’t we?” he said when asked what were the areas that the ASEAN needed to work on.

Duterte made the remark upon his arrival in Davao City late Tuesday night after his two-day official visit to Japan.

The President drew the comparison between the ASEAN and the EU despite repeatedly lashing out at the European bloc in the past over the latter's criticism of his administration's controversial war on drugs.

Duterte, as the President of the host country Philippines, is the ASEAN chairman. He will turn over the duties to Singapore at the end of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits on November 10-14.

“And in the coming year, we will be discussing more along this—issues along these lines to make it more relevant to the times, to be counted. Hindi naman tayo binibilang kasi eh,” the President also said.

He said that the voices of the European countries seemed to matter more in international affairs, pointing out “little, if at all, is being listened to on our front.”

“Maybe this time, or in the succeeding years, in the fullness of God’s time, since the world is now veering to the Easternization of the world—it’s coming, it’s just around the corner,” he said.

EU is an economic and a political union of 28 European countries, but the United Kingdom voted to leave the bloc in 2016.

European Council President Donald Tusk is expected to arrive in the Philippines for the ASEAN-EU Summit to celebrate the 40th year of its relations.

‘Huwag lang sana magkagulo’

While he hoped the ASEAN’s turn at the spotlight would eventually come, Duterte still warned of a looming threat in the region.

“Huwag lang sana magkagulo, huwag lang ma-ano… It’s—It’s called miscalculation kasi eh. ‘Pag wala lang nangyari ganoon, we are on our way to more faster development. Maybe, maabutan pa sa generation natin,” he said without elaborating.

During the 30th ASEAN Summit in April, the leaders expressed concern over the developments in the Korean Peninsula amid North Korea’s continuous nuclear tests and missile launches.

In an attempt to pacify tension in the disputed South China Sea, ASEAN and China started working on the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

Duterte then warned that the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea were two of the “flashpoints” in the world, along with the Middle East. — MDM, GMA News