ASEAN Summit

SUMMARY: Marcos’ interventions at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia  

Bea Cupin

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SUMMARY: Marcos’ interventions at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia  

ASEAN LEADERS. ASEAN leaders and their dialogue partners meet in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia.

ASEAN2022 Phnom Penh Media Center

(2nd UPDATE) It's through interventions that heads of state or government declare their stand on different issues. Leaders may also push their country's agenda through interventions.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Across the different meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) 40th and 41st summits, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made several interventions that touched on different issues – from the conflict in Myanmar to regional action on climate change. 

It’s through interventions that heads of state or government declare their stand on different issues. Leaders may also push their country’s agenda through interventions. 

Here’s a summary of the positions Marcos has made on various topics during the different summits, according to releases from the Philippines’ Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) on the interventions made by the President during closed door meetings.

Access to medicine, vaccines

At the 19th ASEAN-India Summit, Marcos called on ASEAN to tap the “pharmacy of the world”: “ASEAN friends, let us not miss the opportunity of having the ‘pharmacy of the world’ as our close neighbor and dialogue partner. The high cost of life-saving medicines and vaccines are barriers to a healthy population.”

“Let us work closely with India in ensuring that our region has access to a sufficient volume of affordable, high-quality medicines and vaccines.”

Maritime security, transnational crime

At the ASEAN-US summit, Marcos talked about the need for the bloc and the western superpower to continue working together, particularly in “maritime security issues and transnational crime.”

“Let us continue our cooperation in fighting against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and also in combating marine plastic debris and marine pollution,” he said, according to a release from the OPS. 

‘ASEAN centrality’

At the 40th ASEAN Summit Plenary, Marcos said: “It is imperative that we reassert ASEAN Centrality. This [is] in the face of geopolitical dynamics and tensions in the region and the proliferation of Indo-Pacific engagements including the requests of our dialogue partners for closer partnerships.”

“ASEAN’s response to this is the forward-looking ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, with its essential element of ASEAN Centrality in the implementation of ASEAN-led mechanisms, projects, and initiatives for our community-building efforts,” he added.

Marcos, who is also the Philippines’ agriculture chief, called for enhanced ASEAN food security cooperation “through strengthened initiatives and expanded projects under the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry and other related mechanisms” – an effort that will also include the regional bloc’s dialogue partners.

“We need to solidify our food resilience and promote food self-sufficiency, through the use of new agricultural technologies, in order to protect the region and our countries from shocks to the global food value chain, as well as against adverse effects of climate change,” he said. 

“ASEAN Centrality” was also something US President Joe Biden highlighted during the ASEAN-US Summit. noting that the bloc was key in his country’s strategies in this part of the world. 

In his intervention, Marcos said the Philippines was “fully committed” to regional peace and security via the idea of centrality. 

“We regard as of primary import Quad’s assurance of unwavering support for ASEAN unity and Centrality with the view that such minilateral mechanisms should complement the ASEAN-centered regional security architecture,” said Marcos.

On Myanmar

Ahead of an ASEAN Leaders statement on Myanmar and the Five-Point Consensus, Marcos spoke before the 41st ASEAN Summit Retreat, where he emphasized the “need for the speedy implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, which Myanmar agreed to in the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting held in Jakarta in April 2021.”

He added: “While the Philippines adheres to the ASEAN principles of non-interference and consensus, the protracted suffering of the people in Myanmar, in part due to the lack of progress in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, also challenges the ASEAN-honored principles of democracy and the respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.”

ASEAN leaders would later issue a statement urging the ruling military junta in Myanmar to adhere to their previous commitments to ASEAN and to address concerns of violence and human rights violations in the country. 

Climate change

Also during the leaders’ retreat, Marcos brought up the climate crisis and pointed out that it’s developing countries that are the most vulnerable to changes brought about by climate change. 

“Addressing climate change is our collective responsibility and developed countries should play a bigger role in global efforts to mitigate its risks, its effects, its damage and loss. Developing countries are more vulnerable, lose more when these climate shocks hit and have fewer resources to cope with the adverse effects of these shocks,” he said.

“We need to shift our paradigm from the old, traditional farming methods to climate-smart agricultural systems, to better shield us against the ongoing adverse effects of climate change,” he added.

Marcos told his ASEAN counterparts that climate change is among the top agendas of his administration. “The measures we seek to undertake hopefully will enable us to become smarter, more responsible, more sustainable in all that we do,” he said. 

At the 2nd ASEAN Global Dialogue, Marcos once again brought up the climate crisis. Said Marcos, “We must recognize that climate change is a very clear and very present danger, not only to our national security, but to our food supply, our healthcare systems, shelter, our very lives. The Philippines urges ASEAN colleagues to support the fast conclusion of the Global Goal on Adaptation work program. Through these adaptation measures, the increasing losses and damages from climate change may be mitigated or hopefully even prevented.”

“The global goal should not only focus on enhancing capacity and sharing of information, but the time has come for actual implementation,” he added.

North Korea

Speaking at the 41st Summit Retreat as well, Marcos urged North Korea to comply with the United Nations (UN) Security Council’s resolutions.  

Said Marcos: “The Philippines reiterates its grave concerns over the series of missile launches conducted by the DPRK this year. We call on the DPRK to comply with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and we encourage the continuation of dialogue and engagement among concerned parties with the aim of stabilizing the situation in the region.”

“Our greatest fear is that if nuclear weapons become conventional weapons by the use of another country, for example by Russia in Ukraine, and it becomes a conventional weapon. It will encourage others to unleash their nuclear weapons. This will be the end of us all,” he added.

Peace between Ukraine, Russia

At the same retreat, Marcos said in relation to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, “We are also concerned with the severe and disruptive international economic ramifications of this ongoing conflict, particularly on global food and energy security and commodity supply chains.”

“We always urge peace in the resolution of these conflicts,” he added.

On the South China Sea

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh, Marcos told media that he hoped to bring up the long-awaited Code of Conduct on the South China Sea between ASEAN and China. He also said he intends to raise this should he talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was not at Phnom Penh. 

The ASEAN and China signed 20 years ago the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, a non-binding agreement that states that ASEAN members and China agree to craft a binding Code of Conduct over the sea. Four ASEAN members, including the Philippines, have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. 

At the ASEAN-China summit, Marcos said: “It shall be an example of how states manage their differences: through reason and through right. I, therefore, welcome the progress on textual negotiations on the COC this past year and hopefully an approved Code of Conduct in the very near future.”

At the ASEAN Plus Three summit, he said: “Inasmuch as our region is primarily maritime in character and concerns, we must put a premium in strengthening the multifaceted nature of our maritime cooperation. Let us continue to work with our APT partners through activities such as safety and freedom of navigation, with the end view of promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in accordance with the relevant international and regional treaties and agreements, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

On renewable energy

Speaking at the ASEAN-South Korea summit, Marcos said, “Given the ROK’s expertise in harnessing renewable energies, let us explore opportunities for technological cooperation aimed at securing reliable electricity supply sourced from renewable sources.”

On food security

Said Marcos at the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, “Attaining food self-sufficiency and security by seeking innovative solutions through adoption of new technologies and enhanced connectivity to national, regional and global value supply chains – this must be one of our utmost priorities in the region.”

“The Philippines reaffirms our commitment to actively engage in the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve or APTERR. APTERR is extremely beneficial to our countries. We are vulnerable to many hazards and natural calamities due to topography and geographic location,” he added.

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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.