Duterte calls on big powers not to pursue interests to smaller nations' detriment

As the world is faced with the pandemic and other challenges, President Duterte has called on the nations, particularly the world's great powers, to act responsibly and avoid pursuing interests in a way that harms smaller countries.

Addressing the virtual 26th Future of Asia conference organized by Nikkei Inc. Friday, the President also called for the peaceful and rules-based resolution of conflicts, discouraging nations from working against each other.

This year's Nikkei conference centered on "Shaping the post-COVID era: Asia's role in global recovery." Duterte was among the global leaders who spoke during the Tokyo forum.

"President Duterte once again sounded the alarm about the heightening geopolitical competition among the big powers that adds another layer of complexity to regional security issues," the Palace said in a statement.

"Noting the pitfalls of zero-sum approaches, the President urged the great powers to 'resist the temptation to pursue interests at the expense of smaller countries, in plain defiance of international law,'" it added.

The President did not mention the United States and China in his speech but he previously alluded to the two superpowers battling dominance in the region. He had declared that country would not take sides in the conflict among these great powers.

At the start of his term, Duterte has pursued closer ties with China despite an unresolved territorial conflict. The country's ties with the United States, on the other hand, have been strained as the President has repeatedly blasted the longtime ally for its alleged meddling with domestic affairs and alleged inferior treatment of the country.

In the same pre-recorded speech before the the Nikkei conference, the President said disputes must be resolved through peaceful means.

“If Asia is to serve as an engine of global recovery, we all have to act responsibly within a system of norms, commitments, and obligations. We have to resolve our disputes peacefully according to international law," the President said.

"We have to work together – not against each other – to achieve common ends,” he added.

Recently, tension in the region escalated after the Philippines protested the unlawful presence of Chinese ships in local waters. The President recognized the China remained a good friend but vowed not to forge a compromise on the country's West Philippine Sea claim.