Duterte returns to Manila, completes ASEAN tour
President Rodrigo Duterte returned to Manila early Thursday from his productive four-day visits to Myanmar and Thailand, completing his tour to nine member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Duterte cited what he discussed with his counterparts, such as the South China Sea issue, and the agreements that were signed with them.
"On both visits, the South China Sea was discussed. We stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region. We underscored respect for freedom of navigation and overflight rights in the interest of all countries [within] and outside the region," he said in his arrival speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
"We emphasized the need for the full [and] effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and expressed determination to complete the Framework of the Code of Conduct in 2017," he added.
Duterte said he also got the backing of the two countries for the Philippines' chairmanship of the ASEAN this year.
"In both visits, I sought and received the support of Myanmar and Thailand for the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship," he said.
"I put forward our initiatives and priorities for a stronger ASEAN and as the Philippines’ takes on the helm of the ASEAN Chairmanship this year, we seek to set the tone of the next 50 years of ASEAN. Now, more than ever, it is important to realize that our destiny lies in ASEAN and [in the Asia] Pacific region," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS