Duterte arrives in Thailand for 34th ASEAN Summit

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2019 11:18 PM | Updated as of Jun 22 2019 01:23 AM

President Duterte steps out of the plane, which arrives in Bangkok on Friday night. Unofficial photo

MANILA (UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte arrived in Bangkok Friday night to participate in the 34th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Duterte, who left Davao City at 7:07 p.m., arrived in the Thailand capital at 10 p.m. (Bangkok time) for a meeting with his regional counterparts over the weekend.

The President was welcomed by Thailand Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam and Ministry of Foreign Affair Protocol Director General Nadhavathna Krishnamra, along with Philippine Ambassador Mary Jo Bernardo Aragon.

Duterte was accompanied by most of his Cabinet members, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez among others.

Hours before his trip to Bangkok, Duterte said he would talk "lengthily" about Beijing's sweeping claims in the South China Sea when he meets with other ASEAN leaders.

Duterte said he would raise the question on whether it is right for China to claim all of the resource-rich waters as theirs.

"I will talk lengthily about it sa ASEAN. It is not a matter of 9-dash line. Simple lang, can you claim an ocean as your own? Tell me now because I will also claim mine," he said in a speech at the oath-taking of new Davao City officials.

"Is it correct for China to declare ownership of an ocean? I am the moderator for China and ASEAN, but I'm posing this question, 'Can you claim ownership of an ocean?' "

The Philippines is the coordinator of the ASEAN-China dialogue partnership until 2021 where it leads negotiations on drafting a code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea.

Aside from the Philippines, ASEAN member-states Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam also have partial claims to the resource-rich South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs, and islands.

Duterte's remarks come amid public uproar over an allision of a Chinese ship and Filipino fishing boat near the Recto (Reed) Bank in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Assistant Secretary Junever Mahilum-West earlier said there was an "opening" to bring up the Recto Bank allision at the summit.

Duterte's latest visit to Thailand is his third one since assuming office in 2016.