PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. will fly to Indonesia next month for the 43rd summit of Southeast Asian leaders, who are set to discuss geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.
During the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related summits, the President would push for a rules-based order and “uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea in accordance with international law,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu told a palace briefing.
Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened after the Chinese Coast Guard fired water cannons to block boats trying to deliver food and other supplies to a grounded Philippine ship at Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea on Aug. 5.
Days before the summit, China revised its standard map that features a 10-dash line, which the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries said was illegal.
Countries in the region have been pushing for a code of conduct in the South China Sea amid China’s militarization of the sea.
Mr. Espiritu said the summit would be too short for leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to finalize the code of conduct. “It will take a little bit longer,” he said, citing conflicting interests that have delayed the code.
“We have to come up with a compromise every step of the way,” he said. It also remains unclear whether the code of conduct would be legally binding.
Mr. Marcos, who will be in Jakarta from Sept. 5-7, is set to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Vietnam, South Korea, Timor-Leste and Cambodia on the sidelines of the summit.
“The second summit will be a follow-on to the May summit and will accelerate the momentum of the ASEAN community building process,” Mr. Espiritu said.
“It will serve as a platform for leaders to exchange views on key regional and international issues,” he said, citing the situation in military-led Myanmar and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
More than 90 outcome documents are targeted to be issued, adopted or noted during the ASEAN summits covering food security, protection of migrant workers and family members in crisis, the digital economy and climate change, among other matters.
Mr. Espiritu said the meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh would focus on rice and food security cooperation.
Mr. Marcos will meet Timor-Lester Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who took office in July, to assure him of the Philippines’ willingness to work with his country especially in its preparation for final membership in ASEAN.
The Philippine leader will also congratulate the newly appointed Cambodian prime minister and discuss with him “matters of legal concern” between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos will meet South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol to discuss their ties in time for the 75th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.
Mr. Espiritu said South Korea intends to donate 750 metric tons of rice to the Philippines under the ASEAN Plus Three rice reserve program.
During the summit, Mr. Maros will also recite his goals of strengthening food and energy security, harnessing the digital and creative industries and small local businesses, addressing climate change, protecting migrant workers and combating human trafficking, he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza