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29 October 2010

Statement of President Aquino, ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat, Vietnam

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
During the ASEAN Leaders’ Retreat
[October 28, 2010, Hanoi, Vietnam]
[Please check against delivery]
Good afternoon.
On behalf of the government and the people of the Philippines, I would like to congratulate Vietnam, the chair of the 17th ASEAN Summit, for hosting us here in your beautiful country. Thank you for the warm welcome you have extended to me and my delegation.
Allow me to take this opportunity to propose key deliverables that are consistent with the Summit’s theme: Towards the ASEAN Community: From Vision to Action. To express our country’s support to this, we are putting forward existing priorities of the ASEAN where the Philippines have achieved significant inroads, where we can help further and where our citizens and that of other ASEAN nations can truly benefit. We hope to find ways to realize them through our discussions today and in the coming days.

The Philippines is fully committed to building an ASEAN community that cares about its people, their rights and welfare. Our citizens need to understand what the ASEAN is all about and for this, communication is key. We support the early finalization of the ASEAN Communication Master Plan and are prepared to make a contribution to the ASEAN Development Fund and the ASEAN Foundation to support ASEAN communication activities.
We are also particularly interested in improving our physical links with our neighbors in the region, since we are geographically separated from the ASEAN mainland. We initiated the inclusion of the ASEAN Roll On-Roll Off (RO-RO) network in the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan as a way of supplementing road linkages with maritime access to improve connectivity within the region. We hope this would receive full ASEAN support, as well as the support of the private sector.
One of my primary thrusts is to generate employment and economic opportunities in my country. I am committed to make the Philippines a predictable and consistent place for investment and a reliable member of the international community. I hope to work together with fellow member states of ASEAN to harmonize my national interests with my country’s regional responsibilities.
Stronger economic growth and investments in infrastructure, utilities, and job-generating enterprises are deliverables, which I believe will keep us on the path of sustained recovery and development.
The Philippines welcomes the regular participation of the ASEAN Chair in G20 Summits, which has provided ASEAN with an opportunity to contribute to the strengthening of the international financial and monetary system. We are optimistic that the G20 Seoul Summit this coming November would bring new perspectives on how to meet the needs of the developing world.
The Philippines also joins calls for a balanced conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations.
Climate change is a serious problem that affects all nations, especially vulnerable developing countries. Following the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Joint Response to Climate Change at the 16th ASEAN Summit, the Philippines conducted its First Manila Roundtable Discussion with civil society based in the Philippines on the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative (ACCI) to further strengthen our efforts and undertake concrete actions to respond to climate change.
We recognize the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management’s sustained efforts to complete the Standard Operating Procedures for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response particularly on the “facilitation and utilization of military assets and capacities.”
The Philippines is prepared to more actively engage ASEAN member states in finding a creative solution to the funding provision in the agreement to establish the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management to enable it to be fully operational in 2011.
I am pleased to convey the outcome of the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting held last September 24 in New York City. The second meeting among the leaders of ASEAN and the US is a testimony to the latter’s firm commitment to become an active partner of ASEAN in the years to come.
I thank my fellow ASEAN leaders for their full support and cooperation in making the event a worthwhile success.
During the meeting, we discussed a number of regional and international issues of vital concern to our region, particularly ASEAN-US cooperation in fighting international terrorism, enhancing maritime security, expanding trade and investment and addressing the adverse impact of climate change.
The Philippines fully supports expanding the East Asia Summit to include the Russian Federation and the US.
Russia has long wanted to be part of the EAS, and US interest in the forum is a direct result of the re-engagement policy of the US in Asia. These are positive developments for our region.
As we welcome two new members, let us safeguard the EAS process through agenda-setting and by building on the good work we have done in the priority areas of cooperation. We must use our community building goals as the basis for engaging our new partners in the EAS.
In order not to dilute the Leaders’-led process of the forum, we look forward to the participation of all Leaders on an annual basis.
The Philippines looks forward to an expanded East Asia Summit that acknowledges the centrality of ASEAN as a crucial building block of the regional architecture. This will also complement the inaugural ADMM Plus, which the Philippines strongly supported two weeks ago.
The Philippines is proud of the ongoing advances achieved by ASEAN’s youngest institution, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). We reaffirm our commitment to support the AICHR.
The Philippines continues to recognize the contribution of migrant workers to the economies of both receiving and sending states. It is committed to work for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers and their families.
I look forward to the resumption of the drafting of the instrument to implement the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers in due time. This is in line with the 2nd Global Forum for Migration and Development (GFMD) hosted by the Philippines two years ago to promote the rights of migrant workers and improve their welfare.
The Philippines supports the adoption of the Hanoi Declaration on the Enhancement of Welfare and Development of ASEAN Women and Children as it fosters cooperation to improve the condition of women and children and to promote and engage their participation in ASEAN Community Building which we deem important.
To sustain our economic growth and development, the Philippine Government will continue to collaborate with the private sector and the academe to address the challenges of our labor mismatch. The skills of our workers should match the demands of our industries.
We welcome and support the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Human Resources and Skills Development for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth as it fosters technical cooperation and capacity building, promotes public-private sector cooperation, enhances the quality and skills of workers in the ASEAN and promotes lifelong learning.
This Declaration emphasizes ASEAN’s resolve and commitment to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health and to combat infectious diseases.
Last but not least, in terms of importance and priority, is the issue on the South China Sea.
Maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea is of paramount concern to the Philippines.
Our country renews its commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by ASEAN states and China as a basic fundamental pillar of cooperation in the South China Sea.
We aspire to transform this area into a zone of peace, cooperation, friendship and freedom.
Let us focus on collaborative diplomatic processes to resolve territorial disputes through sustained consultations and dialogue amongst ourselves and with China.
Colleagues, it was a pleasure sharing with you my views today on my first ASEAN Retreat. I look forward to fruitful discussions in the next few days as we work on our common goals and objectives.
Thank you.

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