BEIJING, China — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, April 26, recognized the contribution of migrant workers to the development of home and host countries, advocating their protection and welfare during a forum here.
During the High-Level Meeting Session I of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Duterte underscored the importance of creating human connections.
“In pursuing connectivity, we should not merely build roads and bridges but we should also create human connections. It is through these connections that we facilitate grand exchanges of skills, ideas, and experience. It is also through linkages that we forge and build trust and understanding,” the President said in his speech at the China National Convention Center.
Migrant workers serve as nodes of these connections, according to the President. “Through their hard work, they continue to contribute to the development of both their home and host countries,” he said.
According to President Duterte, it is our shared responsibility to protect the rights and promote the welfare of migrant workers, adding that “these are the essence of people-centered cooperation.”
“The Philippines is one with every responsible member of the international community in building a future that would be the envy of history – one that promotes global cooperation yet upholds and respects national sovereignty; where national honor is married with the interest of humanity; and where the great challenges that transcend national borders are collectively addressed,” he said.
During his speech, the President also reaffirmed the Philippines’ commitment to the collective vision of common prosperity through cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and as equal sovereign states.
In the past, President Duterte said belts and roads established lines of commerce, contact, and connections. “Humanity’s experience, however, has been mixed. Some networks spurred progress; other networks ushered decline,” he said.
“While some societies benefitted, others paid a heavy toll. We should learn from the lessons of history,” the President said.
President Duterte also acknowledged how multilateralism allowed “us to undertake global governance through cooperation,” from building a global free trade regime to laying down the rules that govern the use of oceans.
“We built the current rules-based order because nobody wins in a zero-sum game. This brought us sustained peace and [unparalleled] prosperity,” the President said.
“This part of the model is truly to transform our world for the better. Yet even before multilateralism and the new globalization matured, we in Southeast Asia already envisioned a community that promotes shared prosperity and mutual respect,” he said.
“Through ASEAN, we have achieved regional peace and common development. We have become the fulcrum of the regional architecture, respected by all powers for the leadership that only we – nations with no strategic design but that only of peace – can provide,” he added.
ASEAN centrality, according to the President, has been a positive force in Asia’s rise and continue to be so as the region’s architecture evolves.
“This is the premise of the Philippines’ engagement with the world. In pursuit of our independent foreign policy, we will uphold and defend the open and rules-based international order,” he said.
He likewise stated that the Philippines shall continue to participate, contribute, and cooperate to the extent the Belt and Road Forum complements ASEAN and our national development initiatives, including the Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity, and creates an environment conducive to productive bilateral undertakings.
“The belts and roads of the past facilitated cross-[civilizational] exchange. The belts and roads that we now seek to build must fuse our ideas towards a common objective. Our destination must be the fulfillment of our peoples’ aspirations,” he said.
With regards to development assistance, the President said this should be based on reciprocal benefits, motivated by keen interest in partner states to bring about real progress.
“This should be the new normal. And it is in our interest to work together to make this a reality,” he said.
He further noted that this should build on capacities of nations and should never foster dependence.
“We must remember: Development assistance must be used as a genuine tool to bring about positive change in the lives of our peoples. And it must be a purposive decision of partner-states, taking into account mutual respect and mutual interests,” he said.
President Duterte also expressed gratitude to President Xi Jinping for hosting the forum.
He said the forum is an opportunity to redefine international cooperation. “This is the key to sustained growth,” he added.
Prior to his participation in the High-Level Meeting Session I, the President attended the opening ceremony at the China National Convention Center.
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