MANILA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted the importance of its relations with other ASEAN and Asia Pacific countries after returning to Manila early Thursday from his four-day visit to Myanmar and Thailand.

Duterte, in his arrival speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, described his trip to the two countries as fruitful and productive, with a "renewed sense of optimism" for his country's future relations with Myanmar and Thailand.

He underscored that the Philippines' destiny lies in ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region.

"Both visits were important for me to get to know my counterparts and to discuss with them the issues concerning our region and of our hosting of the 30th ASEAN this year," he said.

In both visits, the Duterte said he sought and received the support from Myanmar and Thailand for the Philippines' ASEAN chairmanship.

He said he put forward the Philippines' initiatives and priorities for stronger ASEAN as it takes on the helm of the ASEAN chairmanship this year. "We seek to set the tone for the next 50 years of ASEAN."

"Your government is making sure that the priorities and initiatives put forward in ASEAN reflect the aspirations of our people," he said.

He added that the government wants to make sure that the benefits gained from ASEAN are "not only felt by the elite, but more importantly, by the people on the ground".