posted December 17, 2016 at 12:01 am
President Rodrigo Duterte left earlier this week for a visit to Cambodia and Singapore, where he spoke with his counterparts regarding security and trade. The Philippines will be chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.
In Cambodia, Mr. Duterte was given a warm reception especially given his perceived anti-Western position. What was supposed to be just an official visit was elevated to a state visit upon invitation from the king.
In Singapore, Mr. Duterte said: “We are championing diversity and making sure the dialogue between religions and faiths forms the backdrop of a peaceful society.”
He also affirmed his respect for the independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Mr. Duterte said he would be going around the region to talk to his counterparts about their views on Asean policy on various issues vis a vis the positions of the rest of the world.
The country’s impending chairmanship of Asean gains extra significance given the region’s integration, the heightened security challenges, and differing approaches to dealing with the other countries of the world.
Mr. Duterte will have to step up to the challenge. He has shown, on numerous occasions, that he could veer away from his controversial, foul-mouthed ways and behave in a manner that is respectable to many and appalling to none. We understand that he sometimes has to resort to creative means to drive home his point especially on national matters—but on this regional role, he should take no chances.
That the President is doing the rounds of our Asean neighbors can only redound to the common good, We just have to remember that regional and global interests are complex and far-reaching—there are no “good guys” and “bad guys.” Leadership here needs a sober mind and steady hand.
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