ASEAN leaders to tackle South China Sea dispute, tensions: Marcos
MANILA (UPDATE) - After his weeklong visit in the United States and the United Kingdom for the coronation of King Charles III, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday afternoon left the Philippines again to participate in the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.
Marcos said his participation this year aims to promote the interests of the country towards economic growth, protect migrant workers in crisis situations, promote food and energy security, and boost trade and investments.
"This is the continuation of the process we have begun where, deriving from the idea, principle, and the concept of ASEAN centrality in the face of the challenges that we have to answer not only as single nations but as a political aggrupation that is ASEAN," Marcos said in his departure statement.
"Other parts of the world... look to Southeast Asia as the growth center for the global economy," he added. "That is why it is very important that we go and continue to discuss among other ASEAN leaders... how we can maximize and find that extra synergy from our working together."
Marcos said ASEAN leaders would also discuss "pressing issues of common concerns", including issues in the South China Sea, the conflict in Myanmar, and "major power rivalries."
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military putsch that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's government in February 2021, with the junta's bloody crackdown on dissent sparking social unrest and an economic disaster.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- long decried by critics as a toothless talking shop -- has been trying to kick-start a five-point plan agreed with Myanmar two years ago after mediation attempts to end violence failed.
But its efforts have stalled as the junta ignores international criticism and refuses to engage with its opponents, which include ousted lawmakers, anti-coup "People's Defence Forces" and ethnic minority armed groups.
Meanwhile, several ASEAN members have partial claims to the South China Sea, which China claims almost entirely.
Marcos added he was looking forward for a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Timor Leste, which he said would sit as an observer in the ASEAN Summit for the first time.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to outline a roadmap for East Timor's membership in the bloc.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said the ASEAN Summit would will kick off with an opening ceremony scheduled on May 10, followed by a plenary session.
"A series of interfaces among ASEAN leaders and representatives and/or delegates of relevant ASEAN bodies are scheduled on the same day," Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Teresita Daza told Palace reporters on April 28.
She added that the President would participate in the 15th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit on May 11.
Marcos will tackle the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 during the summit, which is aimed at promoting economic growth, sustainable management of natural resources in the sub-region, and building up connectivity.
Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will chair the BIMP-EAGA,, added Daza.
In this meeting, the leaders will discuss "the strong partnership between the executive and legislative bodies of ASEAN, the pivotal role of private sector and the youth in advancing growth and shaping the future."
Marcos will be in Indonesia from May 10 to 11.
This is his second visit in the neighboring country since assuming power last year. The first time was in early September for his 3-day state visit, when he secured $8.48 billion worth of investment pledges.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse