Villafuerte: PBBM did well in Cambodia

November 17, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 371 views

CAMARINES Sur Rep. and National Unity Party (NUP) president LRay Villafuerte has cited President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. for having turned his just-concluded official trip abroad into a splendid opportunity to draw international attention anew to our country’s concerns that affect not only Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states but the rest of the world as well.

Villafuerte said that with the President’s active participation in the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and the 17th East Asia Summit (EAS) in Cambodia along with his bilateral meetings with country leaders on the sidelines of the four-day events, “Mr. Marcos had turned the international spotlight on a broad range of issues that affect the Philippines and the rest of the region such as attaining food security towards self-sufficiency and ensuring prosperity and maritime security, as well as on those that impact on the whole world like climate justice and an end to nuclearization and geopolitical discords.”

“President Marcos’ description of his official visit to Phnom Penh as a ‘very successful’ one was right on the nose as he had done well, in his initial attendance at Southeast Asia’s annual summit, in putting forward our country’s unequivocal position on the indispensability of regional consensus behind thorny issues that impact on ASEAN, such as an early resolution of the conflict in Myanmar, support for the One-China Policy while pushing a peaceful settlement of the conflict between China and Taiwan, seeking better partnership with the US (United States) against transnational crime and with India on the supply of cheaper medicines and vaccines, and keeping the South China Sea as an area of peace, stability and prosperity rather than of geopolitical strife,” Villafuerte said.

“At the same time,” he said, “the President had adeptly conveyed in the EAS his bilateral meetings with other country leaders the Philippines’ support for positions that have a huge effect on the whole world, like the need for the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (PDRK) to recognize the anti-nukes resolutions of the UNSC (United Nations Security Council) leading to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, an immediate halt to the Russia-Ukraine War, and the quest for climate justice from affluent nations mainly responsible for largely unchecked GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions that pollute the world and hurt high-risk developing economies.”

He said the President, moreover, helped strengthen the ASEAN as a regional bloc by formally supporting the membership of Timor-Leste as its 11th member.

In a statement, Mr. Marcos and the other ASEAN leaders agreed in principle to accept Timor-Leste as the regional bloc’s latest member, granting it an observer status that allowed it to participate in all summit plenaries and ASEAN meetings.

“And even as the President turned the spotlight on the global and regional concerns of the Philippines during his most recent foreign trip, he had taken time to advance the interests of overseas Filipinos by thanking at least two countries—Canada and Japan—that currently host hundreds of thousands of Filipinos,” Villafuerte said.

The Camarines Sur congressman was referring to the President’s expression of gratitude to, and appreciation for, the hospitality of Canada and Japan during his interventions in the separate ASEAN commemorative summits with these two countries in Phnom Penh.

There are now 900,000 migrant Filipino workers in Canada and another 250,000 Filipinos in Japan who call it their new home.

Villafuerte noted, too, that in a meeting with members of the Filipino community in Cambodia, the President pledged to boost the tie-up between the Departments of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and of Migrant Workers (DMW) in extending assistance to overseas Filipinos in distress.

There are about 5,000 Filipinos in Cambodia, mostly English teachers and supervisors in clothing factories and casinos.

Mr. Marcos had described his trip to Cambodia as “very successful” as he was able to “articulate our national interests … Tayo, sa Pilipinas, we also got the opportunity to put forward our position, our plans, and to find ways where we can help each other.”

“In all these meetings, we articulated our national interests and our commitment to working with ASEAN and our Dialogue Partners to find common ground to address the issues affecting our region and to strengthen cooperation,” he said.

Also, ever the country’s No. 1 overseas salesman nowadays, “the President had made use of the Cambodia trip as a four-day opportunity to tell the world that the Philippine economy is on the mend—and on track to meet the government’s growth target of 6.5% to 7.5% for the whole of 2022,” Villafuerte said.

He said the President was correct in claiming that the Marcos administration had steered the economy in the right direction, given that the gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 7.6% over the July-September 2022 period, from 7.5% in the previous quarter and 7% in the same three months in 2021, despite elevated global inflation and a growth slowdown across the world.

Villafuerte noted that during the 41st ASEAN Summit Retreat, the President had sought the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus plan to address the Myanmar crisis—partly through dialogues between the military government and the political opposition—that was reached at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in Jakarta in April 2021.

He said that while in Phnom Penh, the Chief Executive said ASEAN member-states had reached consensus to support the One-China Policy while calling on China and Taiwan to strive for a peaceful settlement of their conflict

The President told the media that, “Sinasabi, karamihan naman sa ’min, One China Policy. So sinasabi namin, ‘okay, we are still following the One China Policy but… we just want peace. We believe that Taiwan is part of China but you must resolve those issues peacefully. ‘Yun lang naman ang hinihingi ng ASEAN. Huwag magkagulo.”

As for the South China Sea, the President said the position of ASEAN was clear on the need for all parties, including China, to adhere to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Villafuerte said.

He said that in the 17th EAS, the President stressed that all should be guided by the principles of “peaceful coexistence and friendly cooperation” and avoidance of conflicts, as upheld in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia.

In the President’s intervention at the 25th ASEAN-China Summit, he pushed for the prompt conclusion of the negotiations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, in support of UNCLOS and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), Villafuerte said.

In an intervention at the 41st ASEAN Summit Retreat, Villafuerte said the President pointed to the country’s “grave concerns” over the DPRK’s missile launches this year, and called on that country to comply with the UNSC resolutions against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

At his bilateral meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, meanwhile, the President expressed full support for the efforts of South Korea to “denuclearize” DPRK.

Villafuerte said that also in his intervention at the 17th EAS, the President stressed the need for all countries to exert all efforts to bring peace to Ukraine, and for the two protagonist-countries to return to diplomacy.

Following the conclusion of the EAS, the President told the media about the need to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict, saying that, “Kailangan talaga eh matigil ang giyera at mag-usap na sila sa lalong madaling panahon. At dapat ang ASEAN ay gawin ang lahat ng kayang gawin para tulungan ‘yung prosesong ‘yan.”

“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,” President Marcos said during his intervention in the 41st ASEAN Summit Retreat Session.

But while asserting the Philippines’ position on its rightful stake in the South China Sea, Villafuerte said the President had succeeded in reaching agreement with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on further deepening the partnership between Manila and Beijing.

He said the Filipino and Chinese leaders had met on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Plus Three (APT) Summit in Phnom Penh, ahead of Mr. Marcos’ visit to China in January 2023.

During the 10th ASEAN-US Summit, he pointed out that the President asked the ASEAN to work closer with the US in dealing with transnational crime, human trafficking and maritime security.

He said the ASEAN should continue its cooperation with Washington in the fight against unreported fishing and marine pollution.

At the 41st ASEAN Summit Retreat, the President emphasized the “collective responsibility” to address climate change, and for developed countries to play a bigger global role in mitigating its risks and damages, especially to developing economies like the Philippines that are the most vulnerable to climate shocks.

He said the President called on ASEAN members to strengthen their regional cooperation on environmental sustainability and eco-friendly economic strategies.

Still, on global warming, the President called on the US to back the global campaign against global warming, he said.

The President and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognized in their bilateral meeting the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis.

The President told Mr. Trudeau that one proof of the increasing impact of climate change especially on highly vulnerable countries like the Philippines was the “very strange” fact that typhoon “Paeng” was the first time in the country’s history that a weather disturbance had affected the entire country.

“From up in the northern part, the northern island of Luzon, all the way down to the southern part of the Philippines. Everybody felt it and felt it badly,” the President told the Canadian prime minister.

He said the President, in the 19th ASEAN-India Summit, called on Southeast Asia to work closer with India on gaining better access to affordable, yet high quality, drugs and vaccines in the post-Covid 19 era.

For the President, the ASEAN shouldn’t “miss the opportunity” of having India, which he described as “the pharmacy of the world,” as a dialogue partner as the regional bloc strives to achieve healthy populations through having sufficient access to affordable, high-quality medicines and vaccines.

He said the President also supported EAS initiatives on advancing women’s economic empowerment, energy security and sustainable development.

Earlier, Villafuerte said President Marcos had pulled off a “master stroke” in his nine-day working visit to the US in projecting on the international stage his vision for an upper middle-income Philippines at peace with its neighbors and where—in the Chief Executive’s words—there will be “not one more hungry Filipino.”

“The President is spot on in describing as a ‘successful’ working trip his second overseas presidential journey, initially brought about by his speech before the UN General Assembly (UNGA), but which he had capitalized on to hold power sessions with global leaders and corporate honchos to tell the world that the Philippines has reopened for business after the pandemic, and is raring to haul in more FDIs (foreign direct investments) while playing a lead role in advancing peace and security in the region,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte said Mr. Marcos had likewise “found use for his working visit to pitch for climate justice by reminding wealthy nations of their unmet commitment to give financial and technical support to non-affluent states like the Philippines that are the most vulnerable to global warming, and to touch base with, and thank, Filipino communities for their dollar remittances, especially during the past two years, that have helped us survive the Covid-driven global health and economic crises.”