PH leader to meet Ban Ki Moon

By OMER OSCAR ALMENARIO
PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Ernesto Abella dismissed speculations that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte refused to meet United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, saying “There was nothing personal and it should not be given negative connotation”.
Abella’s statement came in reaction to accusations that President Duterte refused to meet Mr. Ban when he goes to Laos PDR (People’s Democratic Republic) during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit next week.
“It was a matter of scheduling,” Abella told reporters in a press conference Friday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City. Abella emphasized on the tight schedule of the President, who could no longer find ample time for Mr. Ban.
He said the President was scheduled to meet with 11 heads of states and Mr. Ban’s request for appointment came late.
The President was accused of rejecting a meeting with the UN head after a UN rapporteur strongly criticized his anti-drug war. Mr. Duterte lambasted the UN official for lack of diplomatic protocol, indicating lack of respect to a leader of a sovereign state.
The President is set to leave for Laos PDR for the ASEAN Summit to accept the ASEAN chairmanship. ASEAN is a regional organization formed in August 1967 comprising 10 Southeast Asian states promoting intergovernmental cooperation and facilitating economic integration among its members. It was formed initially by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, and expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.
President Duterte will lead a 30-man delegation to the event where he is expected to push for the adoption of a genuine change especially in the area of the fight against illegal drugs.
During the Summit, the President is expected to present a preview of the Philippines’ Chairmanship (theme and logo); Strengthen relations with ASEAN Member States (AMS) and Dialogue Partners; Reiterate support for the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the Way Forward; Promote PHL’s key priorities, including a Drug-free ASEAN, respect for rule of management, protection of migrant workers, combating trafficking in persons, peace and reconciliation efforts, combating terrorism.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that some of the major outcome documents include the ASEAN declaration of One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN responding to disasters as one in the region and outside the region; the ASEAN Plus Three statement on active ageing; East Asia Summit declaration on strengthening responses to migrants in crisis and trafficking in persons; ASEAN declaration on strengthening education for out-of-school children and youth, Vientiane declaration on the adoption of the master plan on ASEAN connectivity 2025.
Earlier, the President said he has no plans of raising the South China Sea issue, saying, “it is not the proper forum for the Philippines to raise the issue.”
In a pre-departure press briefing, DFA Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Ma. Hellen dela Vega said there might be discussion on South China Sea but it would anchor on the general situation in the South China Sea, maritime security, and the rule of law and United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
She said the Summit will be a vehicle for local leaders “to promote our key priorities or messages which include: a drug-free ASEAN, respect for the rule of law, our aspiration for a legally-binding code of conduct, emergency response and disaster management, protection of migrant workers, combating trafficking in persons, peace and reconciliation efforts, and fighting terrorism.

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