Senate ratifies ASEAN Charter

by LYNDA JUMILLA, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2008 10:25 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2008 08:36 AM

The Senate on Tuesday voted 16-1 to approve a resolution concurring in the ratification of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter, with Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel casting the lone negative vote.

Pimentel's vote was in protest of the Myanmar military junta's refusal to release long-detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"Apparently, the Burma junta generals are interested only in form not in substance of democracy espoused by other countries in the Asian region," Pimentel pointed out.

Sen. Miriam Santiago, foreign relations committee chairman and the resolution's author, earlier explained the ratification of the Charter is expected to pave the way for a single market and production base within the so-called Asean Economic Community.

"In the ASEAN Economic Community, there will be free flow of goods, services, investments, and capital.  It will also facilitate movement of business persons, professionals, talents, and labor," Santiago said.

She added the charter's provision for the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community is a direct result of the Asean Economic Community blueprint signed in Cebu last year, when President Arroyo presided at the ASEAN Summit.