President Marcos back in Australia for Asean summit

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
President Marcos back in Australia for Asean summit
President Marcos and First Lady Liza Marcos are welcomed by Australia’s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts (2nd from right) and other officials upon arrival in Melbourne yesterday.

MELBOURNE — Days after his visit to Canberra, President Marcos departed for Melbourne to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Australia Special Summit, where he is expected to discuss key issues with fellow leaders.

In his departure statement, Marcos said the visit would allow him to express the Philippines’ stance on various issues, thank Australia
 for backing the rule of law and the arbitral ruling that affirmed Manila’s sovereign rights over its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and promote the Philippines to investors.

“As the first ASEAN leader’s level engagement for the year, the summit presents an opportunity to reiterate the Philippines’ national positions on regional and international issues and set the tone for ASEAN’s Dialogue Partner Summits later in the year,” Marcos said in a speech delivered at the Villamor Air Base yesterday.

The Chief Executive noted that the summit has two main engagements – Leaders’ Plenary, which is expected to tackle ways to strengthen the cooperation between ASEAN and Australia, and Leaders’ Retreat, a venue for leaders to exchange candid views on issues affecting the region and the world.

“The summit will be an opportunity for the Philippines to thank Australia, ASEAN’s oldest dialogue partner, for its unwavering support for the rule of law, for the 1982 UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) and the 2016 Arbitral Award, through timely statements of support as well as through capacity-building and academic initiatives to mainstream appreciation of international law,” he added.

The landmark ruling, which stemmed from a case filed by the Philippines during the time of the late president Benigno Aquino III, voided China’s claim of historic rights in virtually the entire South China Sea and validated the Philippines’ sovereign rights over its 200-nautical mile EEZ.

Marcos, who has had 22 foreign trips since assuming office in 2022, is attending the summit at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. The event will commemorate 50 years of relations between ASEAN and Australia.

On the sidelines of the summit, Marcos will have bilateral meetings with the prime ministers of Cambodia and New Zealand, attend the Philippine Business Forum led by the trade department to talk about investment opportunities in the Philippines and meet with the Filipino community here.

The President said he was also looking forward to the launching of the expansion of the Victoria International Container Terminal, Australia’s first fully automated container terminal and a subsidiary of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. or ICTSI. According to him, VICT is “a testament to ICTSI leadership as a leading Filipino company in the field of global port management.”

Marcos is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech to the Lowy Institute to underscore the Philippines’ role as an “active participant in world affairs” and “a contributor to the rules-based regional security architecture.”

“This administration continues to ensure that our constructive engagements with ASEAN, our external partners, and stakeholders, will best serve our national interest, inasmuch as we promote the region’s peace, stability, security, and prosperity, for the well-being of the Filipino and all our region,” the Chief Executive said.

Marcos was expected to arrive here at about 7 p.m. (4 p.m. Philippine time). He is scheduled to come home on Wednesday.

Last week, Marcos went to Canberra to address the Australian parliament, the first Filipino leader to do so.

During his address, Marcos said the Philippines finds itself on the frontline against “actions that undermine regional peace, erode regional stability” and called on the country’s allies to reject efforts to “denigrate” the rule of law. He also highlighted the importance of protecting the South China Sea, which he described as a “vital, critical global artery,” in preserving regional and global peace.

The Philippines and Australia also signed agreements aimed at enhancing their cooperation in maritime domain and maritime environment, cyber and critical technology and competition law during the two-day state visit.

The Philippines and Australia established their formal diplomatic ties on July 4, 1946.

There are about 408,000 Filipinos and Australians of Filipino descent in Australia, including workers in crafts; professionals; services and sales workers; skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers; technicians and associate professionals and managers.

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