President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, May 11, called on leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) not to ignore the scourge of illegal drugs on the youth.
“We cannot turn a blind eye on the scourge of illegal drugs that threatens our youth and the future of our societies,” said the President of the Philippines, the current chairman of ASEAN.
In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in his speech at the Opening Plenary: ASEAN at 50 Years Young during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN 2017, Duterte said the youth is certainly a key sector that we must invest in.
“The ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2016-2020 encourages youth entrepreneurship, employment and employability, awareness, volunteerism, and resilience” he said in his remarks at The Ballroom of Sokha Hotel.The Chief Executive, who is also the chairman of the ASEAN this year, said the plan deserves full support as ASEAN youth are “among the best and most creative, intelligent and innovative in the world.”
“We must empower them to be the best version of themselves,” the President said.
According to Duterte, a committed stand should be taken to dismantle and destroy the illegal drugs trade apparatus.
He further noted that the commitment to realize a drug-free ASEAN community should be reaffirmed.
In the same speech, President Duterte said ASEAN is becoming a significant global player.
“It plays a key role in promoting peace and stability in the region. And it is an emerging economic powerhouse,” he said.
The President, however, noted that while the ASEAN’s achievement is celebrated, it should be recognized as well that more needs to be done for our people.
According to Duterte, among the challenges faced by the ten-member bloc are: integration and connectivity efforts have to be ramp up; technological changes impact on the work force as well as trade and investment, and capital flows; transnational crime threaten to undermine economic progress; and, development gaps threaten to hold us back from achieving the inclusive growth for our peoples.
He said the Philippines as this year’s ASEAN Chair resolves to establish meaningful partnerships for positive change as we engage the larger world.
“The Philippines will do its part. ASEAN Member States will do their part as well. Join us and together let us be partners in an enduring engagement to bring positive change for our world and our region,” he said.
During the opening plenary, the Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, officially declared the opening of the regional forum.
Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith, and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyễn Xuân Phúc also delivered their remarks during the session.
The theme for this WEF, which is hosted by Cambodia for the first time, is: “Youth, Technology, and Growth: Securing ASEAN’s Digital and Demographic Dividends.” (PND/PNA)