Duterte heads to Laos for ASEAN summit

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President Rodrigo Duterte leaves for Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday left for Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

It is his first meeting with other world leaders, since he was elected President.

"I will take the opportunity to discuss with them important regional and international issues that impact on the peace, security, stability and the prosperity of our region," Duterte said.

Following the explosion in Davao City that killed 14 and hurt 68 more, Duterte said he will also seek greater support for regional efforts to address terrorism.

"There are elements who seek to sow terror and wreak havoc in our society. We remain firm in our resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," Duterte said.

Duterte also said the Philippines will be active in working with its Asian neighbors on addressing transnational issues such as trafficking of persons, terrorism, and violent extremism.

"Terrorism and violent extremism is a global concern and the Philippines will do its part as a member of the international community and work with our partners to address this issue."

Consistent with his administration's cornerstone programs, Duterte said he will call for renewed cooperation for a drug-free ASEAN community.

Duterte also said the summit will also be an excellent opportunity "to underscore importance of the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes."

On the economic front, Duterte said he will discuss with ASEAN member states ways to make growth inclusive, "so that the benefits of economic growth are felt by every Filipino."

This inclusive growth, according to Duterte, includes connectivity in the region, enhancing trade, underscoring the importance of micro, small and medium industries, and conserving and sustaining growth environment.

"We will continue engaging our neighbors on the promotion and the protection of the rights of migrant workers… and capacity building of disaster response and management," Duterte said.

Duterte also announced that he accepted the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2017.

Duterte said this will "formally mark an important leadership role for the Philippines in the region," as the ASEAN celebrates its 50th founding anniversary next year.

Also read: Duterte: I am not beholden to Obama, my master is the Filipino people

Duterte to talk to Widodo on Mary Jane Veloso

(File photo) Mary Jane Veloso

After the summit, President Duterte will proceed to Indonesia to talk about bilateral relationships of the two countries.

But aside from this, Duterte also seeks to talk to Indonesian President Joko Widodo on the fate of Filipina Mary Jane Veloso, who has been convicted in Indonesia for being a drug mule.

"I will have to ask Widodo in a most respectful and in a very very courteous way," Duterte said. "I might just plead for mercy."

Duterte said, he's also prepared for the possibility that his pleadings won't be heard.

"I am ready to accept it. For the simple reason I do not doubt the judicial system of Indonesia," Duterte said.

"If President Widodo will deny it, still I would be grateful that she's been treated very well. For afterall we have our laws to follow."

Also read: Prosecutors hope for clemency as Mary Jane Veloso still faces execution