Discussion at the Asia Society 9/21/2017

New York City, United States of America
September 21, 2017

Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano graced an event at the Asia Society held in New York City, United States of America.

In his major policy address, the Secretary shared insights on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s foreign policy priorities, his measures in addressing illegal drugs and criminality in the Philippines, and the territorial disputes.

On issues about human rights and the ongoing “war” on drugs in the Philippines, he conveyed that the leadership of President Duterte is standing by the rule of law and holds the police responsible should the law enforcers abuse their powers. “We refused to watch and do nothing as the Philippines becomes a narco-state and as we lose a whole generation of our children to narcotics,” Secretary Cayetano said.

In terms of territorial disputes, the Secretary imparted that the Government of the Philippines has only changed the framework in its approach relative to the country’s claims.

“We have strengthened and not abandoned our claims in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea… By recalibrating and by creating a mechanism with China, the bilateral consultative mechanism, we have put back on track our fight for our claims,” he said, adding that local fishermen are now back in the area and a few agreements on marine preservation are also being laid out.

Additionally, Secretary Cayetano emphasized that the Duterte administration’s thrust is not to weaken the ties between the United States and the Philippines. “It simply seeks to give us an independent foreign policy where we can stand on our own two feet… The long traditional friendship of the US and the Philippines will remain, however the changes will really try to make us friends to all and enemies to none,” he said.

“Forums like these and interactions like these help us in firming up our friendship and also firming up our foreign policy,” the Secretary ended.

In the course of the event, the Secretary also took questions from Mr. Kevin Rudd, President of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former Australian Prime Minister, in a discussion after his opening statement.

Every year, the Asia Society in New York holds discussions with foreign senior government officials simultaneously during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). These events create an opportunity for the constituents of the group to interact with world leaders and learn deeply about both the challenges and opportunities that typify their respective continents.

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