MANILA, Nov 10 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday afternoon departed for Cambodia to participate in the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits in Phnom Penh from Nov. 10 to 13.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. arrives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday evening to attend the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summits and Related Summits, his first participation in the summit as Philippine leader. Flight PR001 carrying the President touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport around 7:43 p.m. (Philippine time).(MNS photo)

It will be Marcos’ first time to attend the ASEAN Summits since assuming the presidency in June.

In a pre-departure speech before boarding his flight, Marcos said his participation in the ASEAN Summits will “promote and protect Philippine interests in Asean.”

“We will emphasize regional cooperation of maritime security, climate change, food security, health cooperation, and economic recover amongst others,” he said.

He said he and fellow heads of state will also address regional issues such as the pandemic, the situation in Myanmar, developments in the South China Sea and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine among other important matters.

Marcos noted that he will also be having bilateral meetings with some of his counterparts in ASEAN and ASEAN’s dialogue partners.

“I will seek further cooperation in key priorities of my administration as well how to explore what we can do to come together to address the most pressing issues of the region,” he added.

He said he will also be “looking forward” to meeting the Filipino community in Cambodia.

Likewise, he said his participation in the ASEAN summits will be a “very good opportunity” for the Philippine government to forge new partnerships and strengthen existing ones as the region continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“…This is the purpose of the trip and once again we will promote the Philippines not only as an investment center, not only as a tourism center but as a global partner for Asean member nations and for all our friends around the world who will be joining the Asean conference,” he said.

Marcos said the face-to-face ASEAN Summits will be particularly important because it will be the first in-person gathering of the ASEAN leaders and dialogue partner countries after two years of disruptions caused by the health crisis.

He also expressed gratitude to all ASEAN partner members for the interest they have shown in the new policies that we have established in the country since he assumed office.

The ASEAN Summit is the highest policy-making body in ASEAN, comprising the heads of state or government of ASEAN member-states.

It is held twice a year and serves as a venue for discussion and policy deliberations on various developments and global issues affecting the Southeast Asian region and beyond.

This year’s ASEAN summits and related meetings carry the theme “Asean A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together.”

The theme of the 40th and 41st Summits and Related Summits emphasizes the ASEAN’s spirit of “togetherness” as one community and the common will to address and overcome challenges confronting the regional bloc.

“‘Togetherness'” emphasizes the action-oriented approach of ASEAN that is based on openness, good faith, solidarity, and harmony with the Asean family,” Cambodia said in its ASEAN Summits website.

The 17th East Asia Summit, the 25th ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and ASEAN Leaders’ meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres are among the high-level meetings that will be held during the four-day event.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said Vice President Sara Duterte was designated as officer-in-charge to “take care of the day-to-day operations in the Office of the President and oversee the general administration of the Executive Department while Marcos is in Cambodia.

This is to “ensure the continuity of government services” while the President is away.

Meetings with Trudeau, Macron

In an interview onboard a plane en route to Cambodia, Marcos told reporters that he is “looking forward” to his bilateral meetings with fellow leaders on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summits.

He said he is so far expected to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I’ve never met with him (Trudeau), so I suppose it’s just going to be an introductory one,” Marcos said.

Since he had spoken to Macron “twice”, he was expecting to “move forward on the details of the things that he’s thinking about” when they meet.

Marcos said nuclear power may be raised during his discussion with the French President, adding that nuclear accounts for a huge percentage of France’s power production.

He said France is trying to put together a coalition on climate change under the auspices of the United Nations. (MNS)