PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). He said that the ASEAN needs to have a “drug-free environment” to sustain the growth in the region.

The president reiterates that the danger of drugs to the society and every nation is a reality. He said this amid the public scrutiny on his controversial war on drugs. However, he didn’t give comments about the allegations of extrajudicial killings to his administration.

President Duterte addressed over 450 business leaders in 15 industry sectors and more than 700 participants who came from 40 countries around the world.

According to Duterte, every nation must not be ignorant about the evil effects of illegal drugs which pose a significant threat to the future of the society. He then encourages everyone to join his battle against the illegal drug operations and strengthen their commitment to vanquish the problem finally.

Aside from Duterte, other leaders who spoke at the forum were Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Philippines is the chair in this current ASEAN affair. Other participating countries are Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, and Singapore.

In the President’s speech, he thanked the ASEAN founding leaders because it was 50 years ago, they took the initiative with “dedication, determination, and foresight” to act and unite the ASEAN region. He said that those five decades were fascinating for the world. Now, the ASEAN region is very near in reaching its primary goal – One Vision, One Identity, and One Community. However, Duterte said that they must continue to “shape and build” for the sake of the people.

Duterte also emphasized the efforts of ASEAN to overcome conflicts and troubles in the previous years, which made the region more united and more progressive.

He also addressed the growing part of ASEAN in the world economy saying that its values and aspirations guide ASEAN and through this, the countries of Southeast Asia is becoming more united. The 10 participating states in ASEAN now play a vital role in the development of the region.

The President encouraged every member of ASEAN to do their part and join hands in making progressive changes in the region and the world. He then reassured that the Philippines would contribute in doing the region’s objectives.

He also pointed out that the organization is an excellent model of stability and peace in the region. At the moment, the region is now the 6th largest economy in the world and the 3rd biggest consumer base.

According to him, ASEAN serves as an intersection between the world’s trade transactions.

He also mentioned about the demography of the region. He described it as a “young population” which makes it more attractive to investors and explains why they continue to come in. However, he said that while there are a lot of achievements to be celebrated, the organization should also look at the people welfare and needs.

He explains that there are a lot of things to be improved and solved before the region can achieve inclusive growth. These are technological advancements for capital flows and investments, worldwide criminalities that weaken the current progressive economy.

President Duterte went to Hong Kong last night after his concerns in WEF on ASEAN were finished.

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