Did Duterte ‘win’ the ASEAN chairmanship?

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Did Duterte ‘win’ the ASEAN chairmanship?
The ASEAN Charter says that 'the Chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States'

MANILA, Philippines – “Nagmura. Hinusgahan. Naging ASEAN Summit Chairman (He cursed. He was judged. Then he became ASAN Summit Chairman).”

Habang ang ibang Pilipino ay minamaliit siya… ang mga lider ng iba’t ibang bansa ay humahanga naman sa kanya at hinirang pa siya bilang chairman ng ASEAN 2017 (While other Filipinos belittle him…leaders of different countries admire him and even made him chairman of ASEAN 2017).”

On YouTube, a video also proudly proclaimed: “Nasungkit ni President Duterte ang ASEAN chairmanship (President Duterte has clinched the ASEAN chairmanship)…We are proud to (sic) you.” 

(Watch the Duterte supporters’ YouTube video below)

Posts with these words went viral after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on September 8, accepted the Philippine chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2017. 

Did Duterte “win” the ASEAN chairmanship as some of his supporters claim?

No, based on the ASEAN Charter.

Chapter X, Article 31 of the ASEAN Charter states: “The Chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States.”

The Philippines received the ASEAN chairmanship from Laos, the host of the ASEAN Summit this year.

The Phillippines has chaired ASEAN thrice over the past 40 years, according to the regional bloc’s website: 

  • 1987, under the late president Corazon Aquino
  • 1999, under President Joseph Estrada 
  • 2006, under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 

Chapter X, Article 32 of the ASEAN Charter defines the following roles of the ASEAN chairman:

  • To “actively promote and enhance the interests and well-being of ASEAN, including efforts to build an ASEAN Community through policy initiatives, coordination, consensus, and cooperation”
  • To “ensure the centrality of ASEAN”
  • To “ensure an effective and timely response to urgent issues or crisis situations affecting ASEAN, including providing its good offices and such other arrangements to immediately address these concerns”
  • To “represent ASEAN in strengthening and promoting closer relations with external partners”
  • To “carry out such other tasks and functions as may be mandated”

Duterte said when he accepted the ASEAN chairmanship on September 8, “The Philippines is ready and willing to steer and guide the association.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com