President Duterte expressed concern Wednesday, Oct. 27 over what he described as the “brewing rivalry” among the world’s big powers, saying it threatens peace and stability among nations.
“Peace and stability are preconditions for growth and prosperity. For decades following the end of the Cold War, we have been able to live by and safeguard this wise formula,” Duterte said in his message during the 16th East Asia Summit (EAS).
“But the brewing rivalry among the big powers–all of whom are our key partners–creates volatilities that could undo our hard-won gains. We cannot allow this to happen. Cooperation must prevail,” the Philippine leader underscored.
Among those attending the virtual EAS was United States (US) President Joe Biden.
Although Duterte didn’t mention who these “big powers” were, it is of common knowledge that the US, Russia, and China wield the influence and might that can shake the world if pitted against each other.
All three are dialogue partners of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines is a founding member.
The EAS took place under the umbrella of the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits.
“We must enhance engagement in priority areas including under the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. One vital area is maritime security,” Duterte said.
He reiterated that the South China Sea must remain “a sea of peace, security, stability, and prosperity”.
“All stakeholders must therefore adhere to freedom of navigation and overflight, exercise self-restraint and protect the maritime environment as stipulated in UNCLOS,” he said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We must resolve disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, particularly UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award. We thank our EAS partners that finally expressed support for the Award and have urged stakeholders to abide by the decision,” Duterte stressed.
The twin summits were hosted by Brunei.