By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

TOKYO-BOUND. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. delivers his departure statement at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City before leaving for Japan on Friday (Dec. 15, 2023). Marcos will be in Tokyo to participate in the Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Japan Friendship and Cooperation. (PNA photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA — President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. vowed Friday to promote the Philippines’ priorities at the 50th Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Friendship and Cooperation Commemorative Summit. 

In a departure statement delivered at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, Marcos said he would push for regional economic development during the Japan summit.

“This last ASEAN-related Summit for the year presents an opportunity to once again affirm the Philippines’ position on current international issues and advance Philippine interests,” Marcos said. 

“I shall reassure ASEAN member states and Japan that as permanent country coordinator for ASEAN-Japan Economic Relations, the Philippines will always continue to shepherd ASEAN initiatives and projects with Japan not only to co-create a region of economic prosperity, but also an inclusive society that is ready for the future,” he added. 

Marcos said the event is an opportunity to welcome the conferment of comprehensive partner status on Japan, which is considered as ASEAN’s “trusted and reliable partner in peace, economic development, and community-building for the past 50 years or so.” 

Marcos noted that the commemorative summit will feature three sessions, each with a particular focus on the ASEAN-Japan framework.  

The first session will take stock of Japan’s contribution to ASEAN’s community-building efforts, as well as Japan’s consistent support for ASEAN Centrality and the rules-based international order. 

On the other hand, the second session will feature “Heart to Heart” partnership across generations.  

Marcos said there will be a recognition of Tokyo’s commitment and initiatives such as the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) Program to promote friendship and camaraderie among the regional bloc and partners. 

“I will highlight that the Philippines has a long history of cultural exchange through the JENESYS Program and has been one of its largest beneficiaries, welcoming Japan’s young people while sending our own since 2007,” he said. 

Marcos said the last summit program will focus on Co-Creation of Economy and Society of the Future. 

“I will bring the Philippine economic team led by [Trade] Secretary Fred Pascual to participate in those talks,” he said. “I will highlight that the ASEAN-Japan relationship has inexorably evolved and progressed over the past five decades, particularly in shared commitment towards peace and security, trade and investment, food security, climate action, energy security, supply chain resilience, infrastructure development, and now, connectivity.” 

Marcos would also attend the Asia Zero Emission Community (AZEC) Leaders Meeting to promote the current Philippines’ initiatives toward promoting a clean energy transition. 

The AZEC is a separate regional organization composed of ASEAN, Japan, and Australia. 

Marcos said he would invite AZEC members to invest in the Philippines’ renewable energy to achieve not only the organization’s intention but also the overall goal of the Paris Agreement. 

“We will highlight our experience in promoting clean energy projects such as the first wind farms in Southeast Asia in 2003 during my term as governor of Ilocos Norte,” he said.

“This administration will see to it that our constructive engagements with ASEAN, our External Partners and stakeholders, will continue to best serve our national interest, inasmuch as we promote the regional interest of peace, security, and prosperity, for the well-being of the Filipino people,” Marcos added. 

The commemorative summit aims to address the pressing international developments within the ASEAN regional bloc. 

Critical issues in the South China Sea, East China Sea, North Korea and Myanmar are expected to be discussed, underscoring the persistent challenges that necessitate united attention and collaboration. (PNA)