By Faye P. Velasco, PNA and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The Philippines will push for key initiatives and priorities in line with the three aspects of ASEAN’s community-building goals — political-security community, economic community, and socio-cultural community — during the 44th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM)/Post-Ministerial Conference (PMC)/18th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to be held from July 19 to 23 in Bali, Indonesia.
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said he will advance the country’s interests in the key areas of political-security cooperation, trafficking in persons (TIP), connectivity, human rights, food security and disaster management, migrant workers, and other issues and concerns of mutual interest with ASEAN partner countries.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers will meet on July 19.
ASEAN is composed of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
On the last three days of these series of ministerial meetings, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers will attend the Post-Ministerial Conferences, the Informal East Asia Summit Ad hoc Consultations, ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Del Rosario said the Meetings in Bali are also opportunities for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to meet with their counterparts from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), European Union (EU), India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea (ROK), Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, and the United States.
As the current ASEAN chair, Indonesia adopted the theme, “ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations.”
He said the Philippines is committed to this theme as it is committed to seek ways to help ASEAN reach its goal of establishing an ASEAN Community by 2015 and a common platform for ASEAN beyond 2015 for Southeast Asia.
Through these ministerial meetings, the Philippines will work towards realizing its goal of promoting peace and security to contribute to the ASEAN community building process.
The following are the Philippines’ key initiatives and priorities to be pursued in these meetings in line with the three aspects of ASEAN’s community-building goals:
* Maritime Security. The Philippines is committed to promoting maritime security in the region and building the conditions for enhanced cooperation in addressing common maritime issues.
* Trafficking in Persons (TIP). As lead shepherd on TIP, the country looks forward to the adoption of an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) to address this multi-faceted issue affecting the region.
* Implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC). The Philippines strongly advocates the creation of a nautical highway through the Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO-RO) concept in addition to road connectivity to complete the missing links in the region.
Del Rosario said he looks forward to working with ASEAN’s Dialogue Partners on connectivity initiatives, especially on the feasibility study on the ASEAN RO-RO and Short Shipping, a Philippine initiative included in the 15 flagship programs in the MPAC.
* Food Security. The Philippines is working closely with ASEAN Member States and ASEAN Partner Countries in assuring sustainable and safe food supply for Filipinos and ASEAN citizens in the face of droughts and floods due to drastic climate changes.
* Disaster Management. The Philippines recognizes the need for establishing regional response mechanisms to prepare, inform in advance, and assist Filipinos and ASEAN citizens in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides and the like.
* Philippine Participation in the East Asia Summit (EAS).
Secretary Del Rosario will meet with the foreign ministers of the EAS, where he will call for the evolution of the EAS into a more pro-active mechanism where discussions take place in an open and frank manner. This will also give the Philippines the opportunity to renew ties with Russia and the United States as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will participate in the meeting on July 22.
The Philippines will also introduce the idea of having a thematic approach for the 6th EAS, namely, food security and energy security in the context of disaster management given its relevance to the region.
The Philippines also looks forward to participating actively and positively in these meetings, as it works toward ensuring the fulfillment of ASEAN’s goals in the pursuit of advancing the country’s interests.