Let’s face it. The Filipinos are watching the participation of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the four-day 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits in Phnom Penh which ends on Sunday.
This is President Marcos’ first time attending the ASEAN Summits since assuming the presidency in June.
In a pre-departure speech before boarding his flight, Mr. Marcos said his participation in the ASEAN Summits will “promote and protect Philippine interests in Asean (and) we will emphasize regional cooperation of maritime security, climate change, food security, health cooperation, and economic recover among others.”
He said he and fellow heads of state and government 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 Ukraine among other important matters.
The President, whose father was the chief of state when ASEAN was founded in August 1967 in Kuala Lumpur, noted that he will also be having bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts in ASEAN and ASEAN’s dialogue partners.
He said Wednesday before leaving for Cambodia that “I will seek further cooperation in key priorities of my administration as well how to explore what we can do to come together to address the most pressing issues of the region.”
Beyond this four-day biannual summit, it is hoped that significant progress will be achieved in firming up Asian economic integration which bodes well for accelerating growth, cultural development, social progress, and regional peace and stability.
The Summit, the supreme policy-making body of the largely economic body, is held by the 10 members of the ASEAN to discuss the economic, political, security, and socio-cultural matters of the Southeast Asian nations.
Internally, ASEAN has continuously fostered economic cooperation in trade, services, and investment, and moved towards a single market and production base to increase the region’s competitiveness.
ASEAN has managed not only to integrate internally but also with the world economy.
Mr. Marcos said his participation in the ASEAN summits will be a “very good opportunity” for the Philippine government to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing ones as the region continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“…This is the purpose of the trip and once again we will promote the Philippines not only as an investment center, not only as a tourism center but as a global partner for ASEAN member nations and for all our friends around the world who will be joining the ASEAN conference,” he said.
He said the face-to-face ASEAN Summits will be particularly important because it will be the first in-person gathering of the ASEAN leaders and dialogue partner countries after two years of disruptions caused by the global health emergency.
He also expressed gratitude to all ASEAN partner members for the interest they have shown in the new policies that we have established in the country since he assumed office.
ASEAN was established in August 1967 with the purpose of accelerating economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region, and promoting regional peace and stability.
Thus, Cambodia’s ascension to ASEAN has provided a great tie of friendship and dialogue platform to enhance Cambodia’s political security and outward stability.
It has also provided protection against foreign invasion, and interference and support Cambodia’s independence and sovereignty.
This year’s anniversary carried the theme “Stronger Together” in line with Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2022 theme of “Addressing Challenges Together.”
The celebration reminded the people of ASEAN to remain united and lend their collective strength as the region recovers from COVID-19 pandemic.
First, ASEAN has preserved peace and stability in the region. In 2015, ASEAN established the ASEAN Community, which consists of a political and security community, an economic community, and a socio-cultural community.
This was a substantial step toward regional integration.
ASEAN, which has grown to 10 members from the original five in 1967, is expected to facilitate the movement of goods, services, investments, capital, and skills, increase trade (goods and services) and investment among Member States, promote and expand regional production sharing and network, and promote a higher level of transparency and predictability.
We are with some observers who say ASEAN is also constrained by other key challenges, including corruption, demographic changes, uneven social development, disparities in economic development and technology adoption, environmental degradation, and other issues related to politics and the rise of authoritarianism.
ASEAN’s purpose is to promote economic and cultural exchange among its member countries, maintain peace and stability in Southeast Asia, and establish relationships with foreign powers with similar aims.
Our hopes are high for ASEAN beyond the Cambodian Summit.