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PBBM harps on collective action in ASEAN debut


As he proudly wore the Barong Tagalog during the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. promoted the national interest while meeting with fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and dialogue partners.


In his debut participation in the ASEAN Summit as President of the Philippines, President Marcos emphasized the need to enhance solidarity among nations despite political and cultural diversity, because it is only in working together that we are able to overcome the challenges that we are facing, whether these are common problems, such as natural disasters, health emergencies, and economic recessions, or those that are unique to a country.


For instance, the President called on fellow ASEAN leaders to heed the call for the welfare and protection of the people of Myanmar as he pointed out the need for the urgent implementation of the Five Point Consensus peace plan to address the deepening crisis in Myanmar.


In the various meetings held within the summit, he raised multiple issues affecting the Southeast Asian region, such as post-pandemic recovery, the China-Taiwan cross-strait relations, the series of missile launches conducted by North Korea, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, among others.


But among the most important interventions he made were about the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, and climate change.


The President was right when he said that we should make the South China Sea a sea of peace, security, stability and prosperity and not an area of geopolitical discord. There is a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia which lays out the universal principles of peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation. It would certainly benefit more people if we choose to work together than against each other.


In fact, President Marcos pushed for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea based on international law, emphasizing that it will be an example of how states manage their differences: “Through reason and through right.”


Throughout the ASEAN Summit, the issue of climate crisis was brought up several times as he stressed that developing nations are the ones who bear the brunt of climate change.


While strengthening the Philippines’ resilience to the changing climate is on top of the national agenda of his administration, President Marcos said that addressing climate change is a collective responsibility of all nations and “developed countries should play a bigger role in global efforts to mitigate its risks, its effects, its damage and loss.”


The most resonating message he imparted to the community of nations in Southeast Asia is unity. The political strength and economic power of the ASEAN has evolved throughout the years with major powers discussing regional and global issues with the group. This would not have been possible if not for the solidarity of the member-nations.


We can all agree with the President when he said that ASEAN Centrality must remain the bedrock of cooperation, because the truest measure of ASEAN’s success or failure are the people and the communities.

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