MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno S. Aquino III will leave on Monday, April 2, for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to join other leaders at the 20th Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) Summit from April 3 to 4.
On April 3, the President and the other Asean leaders will meet with the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Representatives, the Civil Society Organizations Representatives, and the Youth Representatives; and will have an audience with His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Teresita Barsana told Palace reporters that during the Asean Leaders’ Retreat on April 4, Mr Aquino will seek support for the Philippines’ proposed Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation in the West Philippine Sea.
During the Retreat, the Asean leaders will have an exchange of views on international and regional issues and on the implementation of the declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Barsana said that the retreat provides a “very informal environment…where they can have a freewheeling discussion on issues of common interests and of pressing issues of the day.”
The President will also have the opportunity to raise his concerns about North Korea’s planned missile launch at the leader’s retreat, according to Barsana.
Barsana dismissed the perception that Cambodia, a known ally of China, would try to discourage discussions on the South China Sea, and noted that Cambodia, in fact, has been “encouraging the creation, the formulation of the Code of Conduct in relation to the implementation of the declaration of the Conduct of the State Parties in the South China Sea.”
“They would like to see that the Code of Conduct could be formulated during the chairmanship because it was ten years ago when the declaration was signed also in Phnom Penh. So they’re really very interested in seeing that something very positive comes out of it,” she said.
After the concluding session of the Asean Summit, the President will join 3 of his counterparts in the 8th Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit.
Expected to be discussed during the BIMP-EAGA Summit are the core strategic thrusts of BIMP-EAGA within the next 5 years in the fields of enhanced transport, power and communication connectivity, food basket strategy in agri-business and fisheries development, tourism development and environment and natural resource development.
Before returning to Manila, Mr Aquino will meet with the Filipino community in Cambodia, which hosts an estimated 3,000 Filipinos, 2,000 of whom live in the capital and work in the fields of medicine, business and non-government organizations. – Rappler.com