President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he will take an active role in proposing measures to address festering conflicts in the region during the Leaders’ Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia next month.
“I think ASEAN can do more than it has done thus far,” Mr. Marcos said in a forum hosted by the Manila Overseas Press Club.
“In the upcoming ASEAN conferences in November, I intend to propose several actions that ASEAN can take specific to the different conflicts that we are seeing in our region. And if the Philippines can play a part, then that would certainly be a good thing,” he added.
Mr. Marcos cited the “intensifying non-violent conflict but push and pull between China and the United States over Taiwan.”
He also raised concerns over the Rohingya situation in Myanmar.
“I think it’s time to put forward some concrete proposals on what we can do to at the very least bring the—at least representatives of the military government to the table so we can begin to talk about these things. I’m a great believer in engagement. And I think once the lines of communications have closed, then any hope of a compromise has ended. And so let us continue with that,” he said.
The President, however, stressed that ASEAN must have a “united front” in addressing conflicts in the region.
“We must present a united front and that is something that I believe is the best way forward simply because the moral suasion at the very least of several member countries of ASEAN is probably in many ways more effective than just a single country,” he said.
He said the Philippines will not hesitate to play a leadership role in trying to find solutions to regional concerns.
“We do not think we have a choice. We must play a leadership role because it is in our interest. And if we do not do it, we are not doing our jobs as the protectors of our country, of our state, of our territory, of our people, if we do not take that leadership role,” Mr. Marcos said.
“I think it has been thrust upon us. And as good Filipinos, we face up to challenges and we face up to responsibilities so we will face up to this one as well,” he added.
On the domestic front, Mr. Marcos called on members of the media to help effectively communicate government efforts to the public as he vowed to protect free speech and press freedom in the country.
“As I share your club’s conviction in the importance of upholding the universal right of free speech and press freedom as well as giving and receiving accurate information, I’m committed to remain open with you, constantly communicating our progress as we move forward,” he told members of the MOPC.
“I urge you to effectively communicate to the public the government’s efforts and initiatives towards our country’s development. The nation counts on the media in improving access to information and increasing awareness on issues that affect our country and the world.”
“Your proactive participation in keeping a well-informed citizenry forms part of our collective goal to empower Filipinos and establish a more robust Philippines,” he added.