ASEAN Summit

FULL TEXT: Marcos urges ASEAN to ‘collectively and constructively address challenges together’

Bea Cupin

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FULL TEXT: Marcos urges ASEAN to ‘collectively and constructively address challenges together’

ASEAN-AUS SUMMIT. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr, President of the Republic of the Philippines attends the Leaders Plenary at the ASEAN - Australia Special Summit 2024 in Melbourne, Wednesday March 06, 2024.

Penny Stephens/ASEAN

The Philippine president speaks during the plenary session and the retreats of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia – Speaking before fellow leaders and Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Australia Special Summit, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. called on the bloc to see conflicts not just through the lens of major power rivalry but as “direct challenges to the sovereignty of independent states.”

Marcos spoke twice during the summit, for the plenary session and the retreat.

Read the full text of his interventions, as provided by Malacañang.

Intervention of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit Leaders’ Plenary Session

Thank you to our gracious host, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; to our co-chair, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone of Lao PDR; Your Majesties; Excellencies, good morning.

Through these 50 years, Australia has proven, time and again, its support for ASEAN as it continues its positive role in ensuring peace and stability in our region and our immediate neighborhood, now referred to as the Indo-Pacific.

We have seen how Australia has supported each of its neighbors through programs tailored to each country’s needs for the overall goal of promoting the economic welfare of our neighborhood. I welcome Australia’s strategic approach to deepening engagement through the four tracks for this Special Summit.

On Maritime Cooperation, we thank Australia for its consistent support for the rule of law, for the 1982 UNCLOS, and the 2016 Arbitral Award not only through timely statements of support, but also through capacity-building and academic initiatives to mainstream appreciation of international law.

In ASEAN, Australia has consistently supported all ASEAN-led mechanisms through these 50 years.

We appreciate the evolution of Australia’s strategic approach towards the region from the mere confines of the Asia-Pacific to our now wider common interests in the Indo-Pacific.

We thus encourage Australia to continue its active engagement both bilaterally and through ASEAN to ensure the primacy of peace and stability through confidence building, preventive diplomacy, and conflict resolution in the region.

On Climate – on climate change and Clean Energy, the Philippines remains at the forefront of the effects of climate change, constantly facing the harsh realities of devastating typhoons and rising sea levels, which continue to threaten our biodiversity and ecosystems, and, in turn, agriculture, food security, and livelihoods.

These realities compel us to take bold and decisive actions, both domestically and in international fora for climate justice.

The Philippines welcomes the outcomes of the COP28 and I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate our offer to host the Board of the Loss and Damage Fund.

Hosting the Board in the Philippines would showcase global commitment to inclusivity, ensuring that the voices and experiences of the most affected countries are heard and considered in shaping the most urgent of global climate policies.

We welcome Australia’s aim to boost clean energy, financing, and investment in ASEAN, as well as its support for clean energy transition to meet climate action objectives.

In the Philippines, we have taken concrete actions by implementing policies and initiatives to reduce emissions by catalyzing investments in our rich sources of renewable energy.

We thus invite Australia to partner with the Philippines in our clean, green,
and renewable energy industry and other emerging technologies, and introduce energy efficiency and conservation measures.

On ASEAN Centres of Excellence, the Philippines urges Australia to continue its support for the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) beyond 2024.

As we develop the ASEAN-Australia Plan of Action 2025-2029, let us take into account the pressing need for an effective and inclusive implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and establishment of its goals and targets on biodiversity conservation, climate action, ecosystems and – ecosystems restoration and its management.

The ACB is also implementing the Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the One Health Capacity development project, a partnership among ASEAN, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the Australian Government.

On Business, we are pleased to inform you, Excellencies, that the Philippines has just recently signed the second protocol to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

I am confident that through this development, the AANZFTA will continue to respond to the evolving multidimensional challenges in the business environment and complement region-to-region efforts to strengthen supply chain resilience, the expansion of trade and investment, inclusivity, and sustainable development.

The Protocol will indeed benefit micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) inasmuch as it facilitates their participation in international trade by improving their access to markets and participation in the global value chains, as well as promoting the use of e-commerce.

With the momentum from the CEO Forum yesterday, and AANZFTA together with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, we are confident that we will usher in even more robust economic cooperation within our region and provide a legal framework for a more prosperous future.

We certainly welcome Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, an elaborate plan that aims to broaden and deepen the economic ties between ASEAN and Australia.

The economic cooperation infrastructures and web of free trade agreements that ASEAN and Australia have established over the years provide a solid foundation for this Strategy to flourish and to create a shared future that is peaceful and is prosperous.

The Philippines especially looks forward to expanding our collaboration on agriculture on food security, digital economy, infrastructure, tourism, and healthcare.

Sectors that are key to achieving a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure future for Filipinos and ASEAN citizens.

On Emerging Leaders, we cannot discuss the future without highlighting the important role of our Emerging Leaders in shaping the world.

We commend Australia for this truly forward-looking initiative of creating a forum for engagement of our emerging leaders in government, business, and in civil society.

We hope this engagement will trigger a conversation on the issues facing our region and how they may be addressed through cooperation and partnership.

Our emerging leaders are indeed the bedrock of the sustainability of our continued economic, social, and political progress.

The above-mentioned thematic tracks will augur well towards the peace and prosperity of ASEAN and Australia, as well as the whole of the Indo-Pacific, and we look forward to supporting these initiatives as we usher in the next 50 years of vibrant relations.

Thank you and good morning.

Intervention of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit Leaders’ Retreat

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese; Excellencies, good afternoon.

At the outset, allow me to express the Philippines’ support for Laos’ Chairship of ASEAN this year and thank our Chair for ably shepherding this Special Summit as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia relations.

Geography is no accident, and for all of us gathered today, it is an inescapable fact that we cannot change our geography.

Unfortunately, the ominous geopolitical developments in Ukraine, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea, among others, pose serious challenges to the capacity of our global and regional security architecture to manage and resolve tensions, and to protect the principles of sovereignty, sovereign rights, and territorial integrity.

A rules-based international order emanates from the lessons of history.

Conflicts and war necessitated an international order based on institutions and rules which are of universal import.

We need not repeat history in order to recognize its lessons.

It is thus my government’s position that we will not yield an inch of our sovereign territory, as we are committed to defending our rights within the parameters recognized by international law.

It therefore behooves the Philippines, ASEAN, and Australia, and all like-minded states to exercise the boldness and sense of responsibility to remain committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes and to maintain respect for the rules-based international order and multilateralism, especially in the face of deliberate efforts by others to denigrate, deny, and even violate international law.

It remains the responsibility of each state to promote and protect the rule of international law as much as any other state facing wanton military might.

Excellencies, we all have our respective positions on recent developments around the world.

The disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the developments in the Middle East have taught us invaluable lessons on the paramount importance of the need to deftly and delicately manage the growing challenges of geopolitics, recognizing that their adverse effects on our interconnected economies will certainly affect the wellbeing of all our citizens.

We thus thank like-minded states such as Australia for promoting a rules-based international order grounded on international law.

We acknowledge ASEAN’s oldest Dialogue Partner’s support not only through statements, but also through concrete initiatives that recognize the Philippines’ rights under international law in the South China Sea.

It is the Philippines’ hope that ASEAN continues to collectively and constructively address challenges together.

Let me be clear.

We encourage our ASEAN neighbors to frame conflicts not simply as rivalry between major powers, but as direct challenges to the sovereignty of independent states whose well-being, both politically and economically, are interdependent and intertwined.

Peace is both a global public good and one of humanity’s highest values that no one state should put at risk, for whatever gain or motive.

We thank Australia for convening this Special Commemorative Summit and this first Leaders’ Retreat for ASEAN for this year.

May this meeting set the pace for constructive dialogue for the rest of this Chairship year as we address our region’s shared challenges together.

Thank you.


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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.