DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrived in Manila early morning on Friday, October 12, reporting his fruitful participation in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders’ Gathering in Bali, Indonesia.
In his arrival statement at the Davao International Airport, President Duterte reported that among the matters that he raised during the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering was the Philippines’ shared commitment to achieving peace and stability in the ASEAN region.
“At the meeting, I reiterated the Philippines’ national priorities of inclusive growth, stable and secure environment, and economic integration in the region,” said Duterte.
“I stressed the importance of a stronger ASEAN in order to sustain the efforts toward greater peace, progress, and prosperity for Southeast Asia and its peoples,” he added.
President Duterte said he also highlighted the importance of ASEAN-centered efforts, noting that ASEAN as a regional bloc should capitalize on its strength as “a highly-competitive growing region” in order for it to maintain its “steady” growth path.
He pointed out the need for countries to “invest” in the ASEAN region, “only when we are willing to invest in ourselves can we ensure resiliency amid the challenges of trade tensions, threats to security and stability, and increasing natural calamities,” he added.
The President related that he conveyed to Indonesian President Joko Widodo the Philippines’ condolences in light of the recent calamity that hit Indonesia.
The Philippine government also extended assistance to Indonesia, which was coursed through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management.
In the sidelines of the ASEAN Leaders’ Gathering, President Duterte met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and they have discussed the delineation of maritime boundaries, “I told him that in due time, that we will take a longer period for we have to establish even our continental shelf limits,” the President narrated.
Government policy over rice shortage: Keep people from going hungry
Meanwhile, after his arrival remarks, President Duterte entertained questions from the media.
When asked what policy his administration would adopt regarding rice importation in light of the rice shortage in the country, the Chief Executive said the government’s policy is to make sure that there’s sufficient staple for the people.
“Then after comes the lean months which we have also to consider. The stomach comes first. So the policy of the government is to keep the people away from hunger,” the President stated.
He, however, allayed fears that allowing rice importation would kill the rice industry in the country. “There must be space for the local products to be consumed — bought and consumed.”
“So we have to import, whether we like it or not and we have to plan,” he continued.
President Duterte pointed out climate change, typhoons, and land converted to cash crop for exportation as likely factors causing rice shortage in the country.
“Because of the not so predictable weather now, it has affected really rice planting. So I don’t know if it is now a truism but climate change maybe has made storms violent…and longer periods of dry and wet season,” he said.
“It’s the food crop plus the cash crop. We cannot control unless we expropriate but that is not a good way of doing it in governance na kukunin mo ‘yung lupa na saan naman maraming nagtatrabaho,” he elaborated.