Philippine Statement at the 4th ASEAN-United States Summit

The United States has a long-standing partnership with ASEAN. Since Dialogue Relations began in 1977, those ties have evolved and gained greater depth and more dimensions over nearly four decades.

With the elevation of relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2015, there has been a renewed dynamism in ASEAN-US relations that covers cooperative activities and partnerships in political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation.

With the expressed commitment to enhance cooperation to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, the Special ASEAN - US Leaders' Summit in Sunnylands affirmed the need for all stakeholders in this region to give full respect for legal and diplomatic processes in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The United States has affirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, especially in the South China Sea. The Philippines deeply appreciates this principled position, which was upheld by the recent Arbitral Award on the SCS.

In this post arbitral period, the Philippines welcomes the United States' strong and sustained commitment to a rules-based regime and international order that upholds and protects the rights of all states. This includes the right of all countries to resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

The Philippines will continue to work closely with ASEAN, its ally the United States, and partners in pursuing a durable, peaceful solution to disputes in the South China Sea. We welcome the possibility of having the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea finalized by mid-2017.

Just as freedom of navigation over the seas that connect us all must be upheld, we must also ensure that the waters that sustain life in our region must be protected.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing endangers the sustainability of worldwide fisheries stocks. Individual and collective efforts on this matter, therefore, must remain high on our priority.

ASEAN and the United States have the opportunity to collaborate on this issue by advancing "Our Ocean Conference" initiative in 2017. With the creation of the largest marine protected area in the world in Hawaii, ASEAN may further learn from the lessons of this endeavor.

Inclusive growth is economic growth felt by all. Support for the full development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises will be key in creating dynamic economies. This is a Philippine strategy for economic growth and will be a priority under the Duterte Administration.

In this regard, the Philippines calls for the pursuit of inclusive business models in ASEAN. We are also keen to collaborate with United States companies for the implementation of the ASEAN Connect Initiative.

To be sure, growth can only be achieved in a safe, secure and stable environment. Faced with the same traditional, non-traditional and emerging security threats, it is in the strategic interest of ASEAN and the United States to work closely in addressing grave concerns.

Perpetrators of transnational crimes that target the weak and the vulnerable in our societies must be held accountable.

The fight against trafficking in persons cannot be solved by any one Government. ASEAN and the United States can work together to protect women and children against human traffickers.

The trade in illicit and illegal drugs threatens to derail the advance of our growing economies. It tears the social fabric, breeds corruption in the highest levels of government and debases human dignity. It is a complex problem whose main actors do not recognize borders.

In the face of this challenge, the Philippines will not be deterred. We remain firm in our resolve to address this issue relentlessly and comprehensively within the framework of Constitution, the rule of law, and requirements of due process and an uncompromising respect for human rights - through suppression, prosecution and rehabilitation.

The Philippines welcomes continued cooperation with the United States on capacity building for law enforcement. We look toward redoubling collective efforts in the region to break drug trafficking routes and dismantle distribution networks.

Recent events have shown that there are elements out there that seek to sow terror in our communities and fear in our hearts. We will not cower, we will remain unbowed.

We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We thank the United States for its expression of sympathy and solidarity.

The Philippines stands ready to work closely with partners in the prevention, interdiction and prosecution of all those who intend to pull our societies apart.

We will remain strong. But we all must work together - and we must be smart - if we are to break the back of the heinous beast that is terrorism.

President Obama, the Philippines and the entire Filipino people acknowledges your distinctive role in steering the United States closer to the region. We thank you for your effort in elevating ASEAN - US dialogue. You are the first US President to meet all ASEAN leaders.

We are optimistic that this strong spirit of goodwill and cooperation between ASEAN and the United States will be further enhanced in the years to come and especially during the Philippines' ASEAN Chairmanship next year.

Cooperation and coordination of ASEAN and the United States will be vital for our collective success in this and all other endeavors. END

Source: Republic of Philippines Department Of Foreign Affairs