President Rodrigo Duterte will participate in the 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit on June 26, where the region’s transition to the “new normal” will be discussed by its leaders.

The leaders will review initiatives and explore new ways for enhanced cooperation to strengthen the region’s capacity to address the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje said.

He said topics to be discussed tomorrow would be built on agreements adopted during the Special Asean Summit last April, which sought ways to facilitate the region’s transition to the new normal and post-pandemic recovery.

Duterte and other Asean leaders will also examine the progress of countries in various community building initiatives under the three pillars of Asean– political-security, economic, and socio-cultural – and discuss the way forward.

They will also study international and regional issues, including maritime security developments.

The summit is expected to come up with more than 10 outcome documents on key areas of cooperation, such as food security and supply chain connectivity in the context of pandemic response, countering radicalization and violent extremism, and human resource development, among others.

Borje said during a Palace briefing Thursday that there would also be assemblies where leaders would interface with parliamentarians, youth representatives and business leaders from the region.

A special session on “Women Empowerment in the Digital Age” will be held to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on the rights of women and gender equality.

The president will be joined by key members of his cabinet, including the secretaries of foreign affairs, trade and industry, and social welfare and development departments, covering the three pillars of the Asean community.

The leaders will meet virtually due to constraints posed by Covid-19, Borja said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro