PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte yesterday called for action against terrorism and illegal drugs as he opened
the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.
Duterte formally opened the ASEAN summit which gathered leaders of the 10-nation regional bloc
and dialogue partners, including the United States and China, for two days of meetings.
In his speech, Duterte cited the five-month siege in Marawi City, which Islamic State-inspired
terrorists had attempted to capture in a bid to establish a stronghold in the Philippines and in the
“I apologize for setting the tone of my statement in such a manner. But I only want to
emphasize that our meetings for the next two days present an excellent opportunity for us to engage in
meaningful discussion on matters of regional and international importance,” Duterte said in his
“Terrorism and violent extremism endanger peace, stability, and security of our region,
because these threats know no boundaries. Piracy and armed robbery put a dent on our growth and
disrupt the stability of both regional and global commerce.”
The Marawi crisis, which ended on Oct. 23, left over 1,000 people dead, mostly terrorists, and
hundreds of thousands displaced. It also left the city, considered one of the centers of Islamic faith
in Mindanao, in ruins.
In his speech, Duterte also thanked countries that extended relief and military assistance as
the Philippines sought to end the Marawi crisis.
“Resolute, we are now in the process of helping people back on their feet to reclaim their
lives,” he said
Duterte also cited the illegal drug problem.
The President’s war against drugs has attracted international criticism over thousands of
killings and alleged abuses.
“The menace of [the] illegal drug trade continues to endanger the very fabric of our
societies,” he said.
Duterte recently scaled back his campaign against illegal drugs, tapping the smaller
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead government body to enforce the campaign and relegating
the police force to a supporting role.
Also in his welcome speech, Duterte announced the upcoming signing of a landmark document
aimed at improving the conditions of Southeast Asia’s migrant workers.