Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos to highlight rules-based order in South China Sea, food security at ASEAN Summit

Bea Cupin

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Marcos to highlight rules-based order in South China Sea, food security at ASEAN Summit

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. leaves for Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday (Sept. 4, 2023) to participate in the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits from Sept. 5 to 7, 2023.

ALFRED FRIAS/NIB-PNA

World leaders – ASEAN chiefs and their dialogue partners – converge in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the days-long summit

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. left Manila on Monday, September 4, for a four-day visit to attend the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

Marcos and his official delegation – led by the secretaries of foreign affairs, social welfare, and trade – flew out of Villamor Air Base past 3 pm on board PR001, a commissioned Philippine Airlines plane.

In his departure speech, the President enumerated the advocacies that he would highlight at the ASEAN Summit, including issues related to the South China Sea.

“My participation will highlight our advocacies in promoting a rules-based international order, including in the South China Sea, strengthening food security, calling for climate justice, tapping the potential of the digital and creative economies, protecting migrant workers in crisis situations, as well as combatting trafficking in persons,” he said.

Marcos said that during his participation at the ASEAN Plus 3 and East Asia summits, “we will discuss the developments in the South China Sea, the situation in Myanmar and the conflict in Ukraine as well as on other major power rivalries.”

ASEAN Plus 3 consists of the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, and South Korea. The East Asia Summit has 18 members – the 10 ASEAN countries, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the US.

Tensions between the Philippines and China flared anew in August, after Chinese Coast Guard vessels trailed, blocked, and then pointed water cannons toward Philippine ships on a resupply mission to an outpost in the South China Sea. It prompted the Philippines to summon China’s ambassador to Manila and Marcos to lead a command conference on the incident.

The Philippines had also rejected China’s “Standard Map” that depicted Philippine territory as within the Asian giant’s boundaries in the South China Sea.

In his speech, Marcos said the Jakarta summit will provide “a strategic opportunity for ASEAN to deepen its robust partnership with Australia, Canada, India, China, Japan, Korea, the US, and the United Nations.”

“We will foster cooperation with these countries in areas such as trade and investment, climate action, food security, clean energy, and maritime cooperation,” he said.

Marcos, who is concurrent agriculture secretary, also assured Filipinos that even while he was in Jakarta, his government would continue to look for ways to alleviate rice prices. He had ordered a price ceiling on regular and well-milled rice effective Tuesday, September 5, as a stop-gap measure.

This is the second and bigger summit in Indonesia’s year as ASEAN chair. The first summit in May 2023 was held in Labuan Bajo

The 43rd summit involves not just the 10 members of ASEAN but the bloc’s dialogue partners from all over the world. Marcos and his fellow ASEAN leaders will be attending more than 10 summits, including the inaugural ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum, an innovation by host Indonesia. He will have several bilateral meetings.

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What you need to know: Marcos in Jakarta for the ASEAN Summit

What you need to know: Marcos in Jakarta for the ASEAN Summit

In 2022, Marcos joined the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, the first in-person gathering since COVID-19 lockdowns were introduced. 

The trip to Indonesia is Marcos’ eighth trip outside the Philippines in 2023, after China, Japan, Switzerland, the US, the United Kingdom, Labuan Bajo in Indonesia, and Malaysia.

In 2022, Marcos traveled to Singapore, Indonesia, the US, Cambodia, Thailand, and Belgium. According to a report from the Commission on Audit, Malacañang spent over P403 million on domestic and international travel in 2022, compared to the P36.8 million consumed in 2021, or former president Rodrigo Duterte’s last full year in office, when there were strict travel rules due to the pandemic.

For 2024, the Marcos administration is seeking P1.4 billion for trips and state visits – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.