Philippine’s Duterte opens ASEAN Summit with anti-drug message

April 29 (UPI) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday opened the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit by calling on world leaders to end the “scourge” of illegal drugs.

In his opening statement for the 30th ASEAN summit, Duterte called on bloc leaders to work together against the illegal drug trade. The meeting between the 10 member countries is being held in Manila.

“We must also be resolute in realizing a drug-free ASEAN. The scourge of illegal drugs threatens our gains in community-building, ” he said. “I have seen how illegal drugs have ended the hopes, dreams, future and even lives of countless people, especially the youth. The illegal drug trade apparatus is massive. But it is not impregnable. With political will and cooperation, it can be dismantled, it can be destroyed before it destroys our societies.”

In his 10 months in office, Duterte has led a massive strike on illegal drugs in his country. Thousands have been killed. On Monday, a Philippine lawyer filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Duterte, alleging crimes against humanity including the killings of some 1,400 people.

Duterte, in his opening remarks, also underscored the need for a regional effort to eliminate security threats, including violent extremism and terrorism.

“Piracy and armed robbery against ships disrupt the stability of regional and global commerce. Terrorism and violent extremism have brought the reality of attacks right on our shores and at our doorsteps,” he said. “Eternal vigilance is the price that we must pay to keep our citizens safe. We can only achieve this through advancing cooperation at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.”

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