Busted: Duterte was not elected ASEAN chair; Members take turns, host holds chairmanship

One of the numerous Facebook fan pages dedicated to President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that while Filipinos looked down on Duterte, the leaders of other countries elected him as the Chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Duterte ASEAN Chair

A fan page dedicated to Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter and Davao City Mayor, also claimed that the other leaders were in awe of and trusted Duterte’s capabilities so much that they chose him as the next ASEAN chairman.

Duterte ASEAN Chair

However, the member countries of ASEAN do not elect their chairman. Instead, they take turns hosting the summit.

According to Chapter X, Article 31 of the ASEAN Charter, “the Chairmanship of ASEAN shall rotate annually, based on the alphabetical order of the English names of Member States. A Member State assuming the Chairmanship shall chair the ASEAN Summit and related summits, the ASEAN Coordinating Council, the three ASEAN Community Councils, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies and senior officials, and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.”

There was definitely no election.


The fact that Philippines would be hosting the ASEAN Summit 2017 was known even during former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration. Aquino even signed Administrative Order No. 48, series of 2016 on February 4, 2016 to create the National Organizing Council (NOC) for the Philippines’ preparations in hosting ASEAN in 2017 and specifying the council’s authority and functions.

“Whereas, pursuant to Chapter X, Article 31 of the ASEAN Charter, the Philippines will assume its chairing of ASEAN in 2017, which will coincide with the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN,” the AO stated.

In a Philippine Star report published on March 18, 2016, then President Communications Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. announced in a press release on March 17 that it will be Philippines’ turn to host the ASEAN Summit in 2017, so preparations have started. However, he said that details will depend on how the next administration will work with the local governments involved in the hosting.

“I am not aware of any discussion yet. Abangan na lang. All I know is that committees have been organized. Hintayin na lang natin,” Coloma said.

So to be clear, there was no election in determine the ASEAN chairmanship. It is simply the Philippines’ turn to host the next gathering of the ASEAN leaders in 2017 and whoever is the host automatically holds the chairmanship. That’s it! But we’re hoping the ASEAN leaders and their delegates will enjoy our hosting next year!

Sources: (,,,

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