MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has officially turned over the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday night.
Duterte handed over the ceremonial gavel signifying the Philippines passing the baton to Singapore to lead ASEAN effective next year.
“Your Excellency, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, I have the honor, on this auspicious occasion, to hand over finally the chairmanship of ASEAN to the Republic of Singapore effective 1 January 2018,” Duterte said in his speech during the closing of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
”The Philippines will be there with you and will be working with you with other ASEAN member states, dialogue partners and external parties in moving ASEAN community towards building forward,” he added.
Duterte, meanwhile, said that the Philippines is honored to have hosted the delegation throughout the year in various meetings, activities, and events.
He expressed hopes that the exchanges would translate into “concrete actions that would benefit the peoples of our region.”
“We hope that you have taken with you the warmth of Filipino hospitality and genuine care and action, affection that we give to our guests,” said Duterte.
Duterte added that the country is now eager to host the 51st ASEAN Development Bank Annual Meeting in May 2018 which is aimed at enhancing economic linkages in the region.
During the 31st ASEAN Summit, the Philippines, as ASEAN chairman, adopted a number of declaration, statements, and action plans across the pillars of ASEAN community.
Among these is the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers which aims to strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access of health services for workers across the region.
Lee, for his part, congratulated Duterte for the Philippines’ “successful chairmanship” of the ASEAN Summit.
He particularly lauded the finalization of the framework for the code of conduct on South China Sea, conclusion of free trade agreement between ASEAN and Hong Kong, and the adoption of consensus on the promotion of the rights of migrant workers.
The Singaporean Prime Minister said that he hopes to build upon the good work done by the past chairs and further strengthen integration for the benefit of the people in the region.
“Singapore’s chairmanship will focus on the themes of resiliency and integration to promote regional rules-based order so that we can deal with emerging threats such as cybersecurity, transnational crime and terrorism,” Lee said.
He stressed that Singapore will continue to promote stronger ASEAN-China relations including initiatives to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership.