PH to push for annual Asean meeting

By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 17 2012 08:24 AM | Updated as of Nov 18 2012 02:41 AM

PHNOM PENH – The Philippines will lobby for the holding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders’ forum once a year instead of the usual April and November meetings.

Ambassador Noe Wong said Manila would push for the review of the ASEAN charter to make the summit a single annual event.

President Aquino had said that if he could have his way, he would prefer to attend only one ASEAN summit per year.

“Do we really need two summits a year? Baka puwedeng one summit a year,” he told Manila-based reporters in an interview at Sofitel Hotel here, where he was billeted.

Aquino said ASEAN foreign and defense ministers have also been holding meetings four times a year, which is time-consuming, considering their other domestic tasks.

Other organizations like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits are held yearly. “The whole calendar is devoted to meeting the obligations for the region,” he pointed out.

Aquino is expected to arrive here tonight. The summit begins tomorrow until Nov. 20.

Last April 3 and 4, the President also attended the 20th ASEAN Summit held in this Cambodian capital.

Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, said there are over a thousand ASEAN meetings a year, including the technical working groups.

“It’s about 1,500 meetings. And we are hoping that Asean could be more efficient and cost effective in coming up with decisions and for pushing programs that would be good for the region,” he told reporters.

“That is why we are advocating that there will be only one summit in Asean per year,” he added.

The 21st ASEAN summit’s theme under Cambodia’s chairmanship is “Asean: One Community, One Destiny.”

It has seven related summits – the 15th ASEAN-China Summit and the 15th ASEAN-Japan Summit, 15th ASEAN-South Korea Summit, ASEAN-plus three Commemorative Summit, 10th ASEAN-India Summit, 4th ASEAN-US Leaders Dialogue with President Barack Obama and the 7th East Asia Summit.

Wong said President Aquino would continue to push for maritime security and cooperation, protection and welfare of migrant workers, disaster risk management, connectivity, tourism and human rights issues.