Original article courtesy of Philippine News Agency
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed the very first Boao Forum for Asia in Manila on Monday night describing it as reflective of support for enhanced relations between the Philippines and China as well as East regional cooperation.
Duterte failed to attend the forum as he was “not feeling well” but Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea read the President’s speech for him, thanking former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now House Speaker, for taking the initiative to bring the conference to Manila.
“The decision to hold this conference here in Manila is indeed a welcome development as it reflects the international community’s growing support for and confidence in Philippines-China relations and East Asian regional cooperation,” Duterte said in his speech read by Medialdea at Shangri-La, The Fort, Taguig City.
“I am pleased that through the efforts of my predecessors — President Ramos being a founding father and President Arroyo currently serving as a member of its board — the Boao Forum has become instrumental in charting the course of the Philippine economy in this era of globalization and regional integration,” he added.
Duterte expressed hope that the holding of the Boao Forum will forge stronger consensus as the Philippines prepares to further strengthen regional cooperation through China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The President is set to join other heads of states in Beijing for the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on April 25 this year. Duterte attended the inaugural forum in 2017.
Aside from serving as a platform to introduce the Boao Forum to the Philippine business community, Duterte said the conference may also provide the country’s neighbors insight on the Philippines’ current business environment and trade policies.
Moreover, Duterte also said the forum is a chance for key government officials, business leaders, and economists to reach a consensus on how nations’ various sectors, industries, and communities may contribute in reaching their respective development goals.
“We have all seen how open dialogue, cooperation, and innovation have been instrumental in sustaining the advancement of the world economy in this era of globalization and regional economic integration,” Duterte said.
Duterte also hoped for a stronger and more vibrant relationship between nations, especially as it continues to elevate the Philippines’ ties with China and the rest of the ASEAN community.
Meanwhile, Duterte urged the participants of the forum to ensure “inclusive” growth that should benefit everyone, especially the poor and marginalized.
“To my mind, the Boao Forum is an effective platform if we are to sustain this upward trajectory. Let me emphasize, however, that multilateral cooperation and economic development should always be inclusive. It must always benefit the greater majority, especially the poor and marginalized,” Duterte said
Duterte emphasized that countries should work even harder in order to achieve growth that does not “just look good on paper” but is also felt by the masses.
“We must achieve growth that will be felt by ordinary people. Only when economic progress affects the lives of everyone can we claim genuine victory,” Duterte said.
“As we continue our discussions, I remain hopeful that the inputs in this conference will put primary consideration on inclusive growth, with profit and income being mere consequences of our progress in this area,” he added
The Boao Forum for Asia aims to build further cooperation among leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China in relation to Beijing’s ambitious BRI.
Aside from the Philippines, other ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Duterte skipped the event because “he is not feeling well” and opted to take a break from his punishing schedule including campaign sorties, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo. (PNA)