By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
SINGAPORE – President Duterte is set to reaffirm the Philippines’ stand on the disputed South China Sea at the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) here.
In a statement, Malacañang said that Duterte, together with the nine other ASEAN leaders, will engage dialogue partner countries to further enrich partnership in key areas of cooperation.
“The President will reiterate the Philippines’ principled positions on matters concerning the South China Sea and transnational and trans-boundary issues such as terrorism, violent extremism, trafficking in persons, illicit drugs and disaster risk reduction and management,” the Palace said in a statement.
According to Malacañang, the Philippines is also looking forward to exchanging views on ASEAN community-building as well as discussions on regional and global developments that impact regional peace, security and stability.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), earlier, said that the South China Sea will be one of the regional issues to be discussed along with the Korean peninsula.
The 10 ASEAN leaders are expected to hold its meeting with China in three related summits, namely the ASEAN Plus China Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three Summit also with Japan and South Korea, and the the East Asia Summit also with Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
Duterte arrived in Singapore at 8:23 p.m. Monday for the three-day 33rd ASEAN Summit and related summits, including the East Asia Summit.
Hours after his arrival here, Duterte gathered his Cabinet officials to talk about possible issues that may be discussed during the summit.
Among the Cabinet members present during the said meeting are Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Lopez, and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Duterte is set to hold bilateral meetings with a still unverified number of world leaders who are also present during the Summit, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Joseph Del Mar Yap said Duterte may also have the opportunity to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and United States Vice President Mike Pence, who is representing Trump for the Summit.