President Aquino attends first day of ASEAN Summit, highlights Phl initiatives

Published by rudy Date posted on May 7, 2011

President Benigno S. Aquino III attended the first day of the 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit today, which kicked off with the ASEAN Leaders’ Plenary Session focusing on the implementation of the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community.

The ASEAN  Leaders did a stocktaking of the progress of the community-building initiatives in the region, as well the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) whose aim is to accelerate people-to-people, physical and institutional integration in ASEAN.

President Aquino emphasized the following Philippine initiatives towards achieving the goals of ASEAN’s three community pillars namely, political-security, economic and socio-cultural:

Promotion and protection of human rights.  The alignment of all ASEAN sectoral bodies dealing with human rights such as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) which will expedite the development of an ASEAN Human Rights Declaration;

Combating Trafficking in persons.  As the lead shepherd on combating Trafficking in Persons, the Philippines stressed the timeliness and relevance of the adoption of an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons.  The Philippines is the lead shepherd on Trafficking in Persons and will host the “Experts’ Meeting to Study the Feasibility on Developing an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons” in June, and the 5th Senior Officials’ Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) Working Group Meeting on TIP and the 20th Meeting of the Heads of Specialist Anti-Trafficking Units in July this year;

Drug-free ASEAN.  The Philippines’ underlined its strong support for the vision of a drug-free ASEAN through the successful and effective control of illicit drug activities, and enhanced coordination on anti-drug efforts among ASEAN Member States.  The Philippines also lobbied for the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Combating Illicit Drug Production, Trafficking, and Use for 2009 to 2015;

Peace and security.  The Philippines stressed the need to maximize the available tools to ensure preservation of peace and stability in the region through the effective and full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea; the entry into force of the Third Protocol amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC); and the high utilization of regional mechanisms such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM), and the ADMM-Plus to strengthen our disaster management capabilities.  The need to look into improving the safety of nuclear power plants following the recent events in Japan was also emphasized;

Piracy.  The Philippines highlighted the critical importance to effectively combat piracy, in accordance with the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime. Piracy adversely affects the Philippines because 25 percent of the world’s seafarers are Filipinos;

Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty. The Philippines addressed the need to resolve ASEAN’s differences on the outstanding issues in the SEANWFZ Treaty, with the end goal of having the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) join the protocol;

Economic cooperation.  The Philippines focused on the implementing workable measures in the economic community which can bring the maximum impact and yield the most benefits to ASEAN’s stakeholders such as trade facilitation;

Migrant workers. The Philippines underlined the need to finalize a binding instrument for the implementation of the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as soon as possible.  This is an important issue for the Philippines because of the  450,641  Filipino migrant workers in ASEAN;

Biodiversity.  The Philippines underlined the importance of ASEAN Member States to ratify the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) Establishment Agreement to provide the ACB with full capacity to lead the region in its biodiversity efforts. The region is home to the highest marine life on earth with 25% known coral species and 3,000 species of fish;

Connectivity.  The Philippines underlined the importance of the effective implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity’s priority projects and key actions among which is the Philippine initiative of conducting a feasibility study on the ASEAN Roll-On/Roll-Off Network and Short Sea Shipping.  There is also a need for cross-sectoral coordination by strengthening regional and national linkages implement the initiatives in the MPAC.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Philippines stressed the need to attain the MDGs which is in consonance with the President’s main thrust of alleviating poverty in the country.

As a significant achievement towards a people-oriented ASEAN, President Aquino, together with his ASEAN counterparts, also had separate meetings with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) representatives, youth representatives and civil society organizations (CSOs) representatives from ASEAN.

The Philippines was represented by House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.  for the AIPA Meeting, National Youth Commission Undersecretary Leon Flores III for the youth meeting, and WomanHealth Philippines  national coordinator  Anna Maria Nemenzo for the CSOs meeting.

The 18th ASEAN Summit is being held from May 7-8 in Jakarta with the theme “ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations.” –Public Information Service

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