MANILA (DWDD) – Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel lll praised President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment for a “strong and resilient” ASEAN in 2017, as the Philippines assumed this year’s chairmanship of the 10-member alliance.
At the same time, Pimentel said he would support the President’s priorities to promote regional peace and stability and pursue maritime security.
“These are key issues that the ASEAN must continually strive to maintain. He has articulated what the ASEAN could do to its citizens in this time of great change. It is to ensure stability and security, which will enhance opportunities of its citizens for a better life,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“The regional bloc is focused on growth and centered on ASEAN citizens. Nothing could be more important to the ASEAN in a region that is the most economically dynamic in the world,” Pimentel said.
The President’s statement that life in the ASEAN has broken the “bonds of dependence and ignorance” enhances its founding spirit to become a vehicle for peace and progress, the senator from Mindanao said.
ASEAN turns fifty this year, coinciding with the Philippine chairmanship of the alliance months after Duterte announced that he would chart an independent foreign policy.
The country plays host to the ASEAN Summit late this year.
Its theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” perfectly highlights the Philippines’ enhanced role in the region, said Pimentel, who is also the president of the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban).
He said the leadership of both chambers of Congress has already identified priority measures aimed at improving people’s lives and enhancing Philippine role in the ASEAN.
Among the non-controversial bills are the provisions of free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation for farmers, universal health insurance coverage and nutritious meals for students in public elementary schools. SENATE / MCAG