(Note from MindaNews: This is the official transcript of President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech, released by the Presidential News Desk of the Presidential Communications Office)

Presidential Communications Office
Presidential News Desk

[Delivered at the PICC Plenary Hall, Pasay City | 08 August 2017]

Kindly sit down. Thank you for your courtesy.

Your Excellencies; Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN Member-States; ASEAN Regional Forum ministers and other forum ministers; Excellencies of the diplomatic corps; Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo; Senate President Aquilino Pimentel and the members of the Senate; former President Fidel V. Ramos, sir; Foreign Minister… Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and his lady; Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and his wife; members of the Cabinet; distinguished members of the House of Representatives; honored guests; ladies and gentlemen.

At eight o’clock this morning, the Philippines greeted the region with the simultaneous blowing of horns by our sea vessels.

The sound that resonated across all Philippine ports reminds us all that there is much to celebrate [on] this historic day.  That sound reminds us of the peace, progress and togetherness we have enjoyed in the last half century.

Not long ago, the uncertainty that faced our region was unsettling.

In the 1960s, lines were drawn in a Cold War we did not need nor want. Ideological fissures divided our nations. And it appeared that discord and threats were [brewing] a perfect storm in Southeast Asia.

To be sure, there was or there were attempts to build a viable inter-governmental organization for our regions. But efforts did not prosper until five men of vision and wisdom were drawn together.

They were convinced that by transformative powers of cooperation and dialogue, that they were also [aware] of the need to protect our nations [from] the effects of regional and global geopolitical shifts. They knew that [we] had to work together closely to advance our own values and interests.

[The] signing of the 1967 Bangkok Declaration was the culmination of their efforts.  And the establishment of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations began our [region’s] journeys together [as ASEAN.]

Our guideposts were also the time-honored principles of non-interference and decision-making through consultation and consensus.

[This is] the ASEAN Way that propelled our region [forward on] a path towards greater peace, progress and prosperity [for] our peoples because of these endeavors.

Since then, the number of travellers on this ASEAN journey has grown into a united fellowship of ten ASEAN Member-States.

Truth to be told, while there were… was a pessimism for ASEAN at the outset. But together, we prevailed.

We proved that [what] we share [is] more valuable than our differences. We proved that our diversity is a strength rather than a weakness. We proved that regionalism – developed at our own pace and under our own terms and with our values – can work.

We are stronger, more vibrant, and more robust as [an] ASEAN Community.

Today – fifty years hence – we remain firmly convinced that we will prevail against the new and emerging challenges we now face as an ASEAN Community.

As we stand at the center of the future of the [Asia-Pacific] region, we [must] remember our responsibility to fully realize the dreams and aspirations for our peoples:

We want a region that is secure — where our peoples can live without fear from the lawless elements and the debilitating effects of corruption and transnational crimes.

We want a region that is stable — where democratic institutions work, where nations regard each other with mutual respect and understanding, and where the rule of law reigns supreme in the relations between states.

We want a region that is sustainable and inclusive in its growth — where no one is left behind and everyone has the opportunity [to realize] their potentials.

It is a journey that continues as we seek to engage with our neighbors positively in dialogue partnerships that continue to grow.

As we move forward, we must express our gratitude to those who have dared to dream of the impossible and made this real for us.

On this day, therefore, we pay tribute to the Founding Fathers whose patriotism went beyond borders, and whose idealism drew our nations and our peoples closer together.

With their legacy, they deserve a special place in our shared history. They deserve to be remembered in our collective memories. They deserve our applause.

We also recognize the heroes of ASEAN, whose pioneering works have contributed to the development of our region. They have come from various fields: biodiversity conservation and protection, youth entrepreneurship, and research and development in rice science and technology.

Their achievements augur well for our future. We must continue to nurture both talent and genius harnessed for the greater common good.

Their success is ASEAN’s success. We hope that with our young heroes, many more will be inspired to follow their footsteps and contribute further to the growth of our region.

Let us never forget: individual success is desirable but collective achievements [that] positively impact lives, that is most ideal.  This too, must be the ASEAN way [of life].

With ASEAN peoples at the core of our pursuit of lasting peace and security, economic prosperity, and continued cultural development, we must endeavor to do more.

Prosperity should not be the right of just a chosen few. It must be a blessing enjoyed by all.

As ASEAN Governments work to achieve the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, I call on our private sector to play a bigger role in spurring and sustaining growth.

Public Private Partnership must be harnessed fully to lift our peoples from poverty. Indeed, the ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s Alliance for Prosperity for All is showing how the inclusive business model can help achieve growth [for] our MSMEs and our peoples in the grassroots.

At the same time, we must take a serious look at the economic integration. ASEAN has a bigger stake than any other part of the world in standing up against protectionism and securing the rules of the game in the international trade.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP will provide further impetus to our efforts. Negotiations should conclude swiftly as decided by RCEP leaders in 2016. I was reminded that the Trans-Pacific, it was a dream that was no longer there.

Certainly, the work will continue to proceed for all of us.

Over the past eight months, the Philippines, as Chair of the ASEAN this year, has engaged the ASEAN member-states, our Dialogue Partners, and the larger community of nations.

Our meetings and commemorative activities will build on our prior accomplishments. They will also build up the momentum for the Philippines’ ASEAN Chairmanship.

Allow me at this point to thank all of our members for their valuable support and active participation. The Philippines will continue to work closely with all stakeholders in the ASEAN to achieve what we set out: An ASEAN that is proactive, relevant and transformative.

Today marks a genuine milestone [for] our region and our peoples: 50 years of ASEAN gives us reason to celebrate. 50 years of ASEAN shows us there is a bright future to look forward to and to work for.

As we welcome this golden occasion, the Philippines will light up in more than 70 key cities and locations this evening.

As the countries of ASEAN, we jointly celebrate our 50th anniversary in many diverse ways but we must remain united.

As we look back on the half-century of achievements, we look forward to a future of greater possibilities, knowing that together, we can make our dreams real.

Happy anniversary, ASEAN at maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!