Statement of President Aquino during the 13th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, Hanoi, Vietnam

Statement
of
His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the 13th ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit

[October 29, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]

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Colleagues in ASEAN and colleagues from the Plus Three countries, it is an honor to address this 13th APT summit, given the significance of having three of ASEAN’s most important dialogue partners together in one meeting.

Some cultures consider the number 13 to be unlucky, but perhaps we may begin to rid ourselves of that notion, given what the APT has already achieved, and our great potential of achieving even more as we work together to pursue our common goals.

Great strides have been made this year of 2010 as regards the strengthening of our financial and economic cooperation. The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) took effect last March, and we look forward to the early operationalization of the ASEAN plus 3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) in Singapore in the first quarter of 2011 to support the CMIM. Also this year, it was agreed that the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF) would be established; pilot operations are due to start next year.

My country also notes the progress made this year on studies regarding the establishment of an East Asia Free Trade Area (EAFTA). I trust that further studies will be conducted to identify the most suitable way to move forward with respect to regional economic integration.

Our march towards a more equitably progressive region should not be stymied. It remains our collective goal to enhance the resilience of the regional economy against international volatility and external shocks. On this note, the Philippines thanks Korea, as chair of the G20 summit, for supporting the participation of the ASEAN Chair in the G20. We look forward to the institutionalization of ASEAN’s participation through its chair.

Next month’s Summit in Seoul is an excellent opportunity for ASEAN to raise issues of common interest. Accelerating reforms in international financial institutions to ensure their inclusiveness and equitability are among my country’s concerns. As we in the global south cooperate among ourselves, there remains a need to establish a framework for sustainable growth and development through closer coordination between G20 countries and non-G20 countries.

Given ASEAN’s focus on ASEAN community-building, the Philippines also appreciates the generosity of our Plus Three partners in establishing the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Fund (APTCF). My nation looks forward to favorable consideration of the two project proposals we have submitted to the ASEAN Secretariat earlier this year, one on alternative fuel and the other on capacity building on food safety. We believe that these two projects will benefit not only the Philippines but the region, as well.

The destinies of our nations have become more intertwined, and we are all  aware of the need for cooperation to develop at a more dynamic pace. Disaster management is among the key areas in which greater collaboration can reap immediate and important gains.

Just last week, a super-typhoon hit the northern part of my country, leaving in its wake significant damage. And just this week, an earthquake, a tsunami and a volcanic eruption caused death and destruction in Indonesia. These events underscore the urgent need for greater cooperation on disaster response. As chair of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), my nation supports the flagship projects of the work program to implement the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). Specifically, the Philippines proposes two flagship projects for prevention and mitigation for consideration by our friends in the Plus Three countries. First, development of disaster risk reduction action plans, including climate change adaptation. Second, stock-taking of current status of risk financing schemes and microfinance for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

As my nation’s location and geography makes us more vulnerable to some natural disasters, it also poses another difficulty; the Philippines is somewhat removed from the ASEAN mainland. We believe that connectivity is also one of the key areas wherein greater collaboration should be pursued.

Our region is almost synonymous to biodiversity. The Philippines, together with the global community, celebrates 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity and appreciates ASEAN’s contribution towards the conservation of biodiversity in the region through the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), which the Philippines hosts.[1]

We look forward to working even more closely with ASEAN and with our Plus Three partners on this biodiversity initiative and sustaining the work of the ACB.

The Philippines seeks support for the development of a nautical highway to improve the physical links with its ASEAN neighbors. Now that a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity has been adopted, my nation looks forward to sustaining the momentum of this initiative by identifying early on the specific projects ASEAN can pursue with the support of its partners in APT.

The realization of our dream of stronger and better linkages within our region rests on three key elements: Physical connectivity referring to transport connectivity; institutional connectivity referring to the streamlining of restrictions on trade and investment; and people-to-people connectivity referring to tourism, education, and cultural exchange.

To speak of connectivity is to recognize that no nation in the world operates in a vacuum. When regional security is threatened, all of our efforts towards equitable growth are hindered. I reiterate my nation’s belief that all peaceful means must be exhausted to resolve any conflict. Thus the Philippines welcomes the UN Security Council’s Presidential statement of 9 July 2100 condemning the attack on the Cheonan on March 26, 2010 and expressing concern for findings involving the role of the DPRK. We hope all concerned will now work on the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

The priorities of the Philippines—disaster management and connectivity—can only bring us closer to achieving the economic, political-security, and socio-cultural goals of ASEAN community-building. Even now we are eager to report the progress we will have made by the time we all come together next year for the 14th APT Summit in Indonesia.

Excellencies, it has been a pleasure to share my views with you during this 13th APT Summit. The institutionalization of the APT Summit in Manila eleven years ago has resulted in concrete results and in a better understanding of our regional and global milieu. There is so much more to achieve, and the dream our forefathers bore continues to come to its fruition. May future generations of our peoples be as proud of us, as we are of those who laid the straight and righteous path we now tread upon.

Thank you.


[1] The ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) began its operations in 1999.

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