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Sunday, April 14, 2024

PH wants to set tone in ASEAN-Aussie summit

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President Marcos said the Philippines is looking to set the tone in raising issues of security, particularly in the West Philippine Sea, when it joins its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a special summit with Australia starting today in Melbourne.

“As the first ASEAN Leaders’ level engagement for the year, the Summit presents an opportunity to reiterate the Philippines’ nationalpositions on regional and international issues and set the tone for ASEAN’s Dialogue Partner Summits later in the year,” the President said in his departure address yesterday at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

He said his administration “will continue to ensure that the Philippines’ constructive engagements with ASEAN and stakeholders will best serve the country’s national interest, promote the region’s peace, stability, security and prosperity for the well-being of the Filipino people and the region.”

Mr. Marcos and the Philippine delegation arrived at Melbourne Airport at 7:15 p.m. local time (4:15 p.m. in Manila), just days after he left Canberra on Thursday after a two-day state visit to address the Australian Parliament, the first Filipino leader to do so.

He told Australian lawmakers the Philippines was on the “frontline” of a battle for regional peace as he urged Canberra to join forces in facing the threats that disrupt peace, stability, and the rule of law.

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With Chinese warships loitering in waters off the Philippines’ coast, Mr. Marcos told the Australian legislators he will remain firm in defending the country’s sovereignty, despite “formidable” challenges (see related stories on A1– Editors).

He thanked the Australian government for its support for the rule of law while noting the summit is an opportunity for the Philippines to reiterate the country’s position on regional and international issues.

The President said the Philippines will do this by taking stock of ASEAN-Australia cooperation and cooperation, and proposing ways forward to further bolster relations during the “Leaders’ Plenary” of the summit.

The country will also exchange candid views on key issues affecting the region and the world during the “Leaders’ Retreat,” Mr. Marcos added.

“The Summit will be an opportunity for the Philippines to thank Australia, ASEAN’s oldest Dialogue Partner, for its unwavering support for the rule of law, for the 1982 UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award, through timely statements of support as well as through capacity-building and academic initiatives to mainstream appreciation of international law,” he added.

Malacañang said as the President returned on Friday from Canberra that Australia is eyeing a “new level of engagement” with the Philippines in various areas of cooperation such as economy, education, agriculture, and defense.

The Special Summit commemorates the 50 years of ASEAN-Australia Relations upon the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

During this four-day visit, President Marcos will also hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon of New Zealand to further strengthen cooperation with these countries.

The President will also meet with the Filipino community in Melbourne and promote Philippine business through the Philippine Business Forum led by the Department of Trade and Industry.

Mr. Marcos said he is also looking forward to the launching of the expansion of the Victoria International Container Terminal, Australia’s first fully automated container terminal.

The President will also deliver a keynote speech at the Lowy Institute, founded by Australian billionaire shipping magnate Frank Lowy, where he will highlight the Philippines’ role as an active participant in world affairs and a contributor to the rules-based regional security architecture.

The Philippines and Australia established formal diplomatic relations on July 4, 1946. Australia is a second home to around 408,000 Filipinos and Australians of Filipino descent.

Most of them work in crafts and related; professionals; services and sales workers; skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers; technicians and associate professionals; and managers, among others. In 2023, OFW remittances from Australia amounted to US$301.2 million (P16.9 billion).

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Regional issues top Marcos’ agenda for ASEAN-Australia Summit.”

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