EconomyEditor's PickMarcos pledges to tackle South China Sea dispute at ASEAN summits

November 9, 2022

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday left the Philippines to attend the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) summits in Cambodia, vowing to prioritize Philippine interests and tackle the South China Sea dispute.

“My participation will promote and protect Philippine interest in ASEAN,” he said in a departure speech. He would also emphasize regional cooperation on maritime security, climate change, food security, health cooperation and economic recovery.

“[We] will also address regional issues such as the pandemic, the situation in Myanmar, developments in the South China Sea and the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine among other important matters,” he added.

The 10-member ASEAN will hold the summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, on Nov. 8 to 13. It is also set to hold dialogues with its partners, including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, India, South Korea and the United States to tackle existing and new areas of cooperation and exchange views on global issues. 

Mr. Marcos said he would convey the Philippines’ continuing support for ASEAN centrality, for Cambodia as the chairman of ASEAN and for Indonesia as the incoming head of ASEAN next year.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Espiritu earlier said the Philippines was “very much on the forefront” of the call for the enforcement of a five-point consensus that ASEAN issued last year on the Myanmar issue.

The consensus called for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar, dialogue among all parties, humanitarian assistance from ASEAN and a visit to the country by a special envoy.

“In the year since, Min Aung Hlaing has defied each point while overseeing a brutal nationwide crackdown aimed at suppressing the millions of people opposed to military rule,” Human Rights Watch said in April.

Mr. Espiritu had said the Philippines would call for a stop to hostilities in Ukraine and the return of concerned parties to the negotiating table.

“The South China Sea will always be there because we always carry that in meetings in international fora.”

Mr. Marcos is expected to meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on the sidelines of the summit.

Mr. Marcos and Mr. Yoon are expected to cover the Philippine-Korea free trade negotiations, which started in June 2019 and ended in October 2021. Philippine products covered by the trade agreement include banana and pineapple. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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