[PHOTO AT LEFT - Keynoter. President Aquino delivers the keynote address at the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foundation Day.]

MANILA, AUGUST 10, 2010 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - President Aquino assured ambassadors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) yesterday that the Philippines under his administration will be a “predictable and consistent place for investment” where international commitments will be fully complied with.

“We will be a good neighbor, a productive partner, and a consensus-builder as we work towards our common goals,” he said on the occasion of the 43rd ASEAN Foundation Day, where he was guest of honor at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Aquino pledged to the diplomatic corps that under his watch, or until 2016, the country will be an “exemplar, as well as exponent, of the rule of law, including international law” that will be “attractive to investments.”

He vowed that the Philippines will “harmonize its national interest with its international responsibilities” which, in turn, can “earn, and maintain its dignity and self-respect whether on a bilateral or multilateral level.”

“We can achieve this by making sure that our country is a predictable and consistent place for investment. The security and well-being of Filipinos throughout the world will be best protected, if our country enjoys international amity,” the President said.

Mr. Aquino said, this amity “will be fostered by our ability to honor contracts and give due protection to investors.” “Under my administration, we will fulfill international commitments without undermining and forsaking national interests.”

Growth in the free trade area will also be encouraged by the government. “We will ensure that these agreements increase employment and expand the market for our goods and that of the other nations.”

Likewise, the Aquino administration will be “more conscious” of its commitment to “fostering improved ties” with its ASEAN neighbors.”

The Philippines will also do its part in creating a “more binding commitment” to ASEAN’s “mutual economic and political interests,” in line with the region’s plan to build a “people-oriented regional community.”

This will be achieved through the three pillars Mr. Aquino had enumerated, which are peace and security, economic participation in the region and the pursuance of common goals through culture and the arts.


Asean charter now in Filipino, will be stocked in libraries By GERARD NAVAL THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Charter has been translated in the major languages of its 10 member-countries.

The announcement was made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo in his speech at the 43rd Asean Foundation Day.

"The translation into Filipino of the Asean Charter, Asean’s main instrument for the pursuit of our goals, affirms the immense importance of clearly communicating our purposes, our principles, our objectives to our respective peoples’ national languages," Romulo said.

He said it was the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino, which did the translation of the Charter.

"We are making the Charter accessible through the library of the Asean Secretariat and through our public libraries," said Romulo.

The Asean groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The Asean Charter was adopted at the 13th Asean Summit in Jakarta in November 2007.

Key points of the Charter include emphasizing the centrality of Asean in regional cooperation; respect for the principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty, non-interference and national identities of Asean members; promoting regional peace and identity, peaceful settlements of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and the renunciation of aggression; upholding international law with respect to human rights, social justice and multilateral trade; and encouraging regional integration of trade.

Also adopted as Asean principle are the appointment of a secretary-general and permanent representatives of Asean; establishment of a human rights body and an unresolved dispute mechanism, to be decided at Asean summits; development of friendly external relations and a position with the UN (like the European Union); increasing the number of Asean summits to twice a year and the ability to convene for emergency situations; and reiterating the use of the Asean flag, anthem, emblem and national Asean day every August 8.

The Philippine government said the territorial dispute in the South China Sea should be resolved by the claimants in the Asean region and China.

"We are discussing it in Asean. This is Asean plus China. In fact it was taken up in Hanoi. So we will continue to discuss it and that has always been in our agenda because now we have the Declaration on the South China Sea. What the Asean members would hopefully want to happen within the next few years is not only a Declaration of Conduct but a Code of Conduct itself. That has been there in discussion for sometime," Romulo said.

President Aquino, in his keynote address, said the Philippines "will abide by the Asean Declaration on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea."

Aquino said he was looking forward to meeting his fellow Asean heads of state in regional and international fora.

Aquino said his administration will be "more conscious" of commitments to foster improved ties with other Asean countries.

"We will be a good neighbor, a productive partner and a conscientious builder as we work towards our common goals," he said.

Aquino said that by 2015, his administration will do what it can to make sure that Asean achieves its goals, such as the Asean connectivity master plan in transport, infrastructure, information and communications technology, energy power grid, and tourism.

He said the Philippines can foster the success of common goals through culture and the arts, "the greatest antidote to war."

Aquino said he would ensure that free trade agreements forged before he assumed the presidency will increase employment and expand the market for the Philippines and other nations.

Aquino also ordered the Commission on Higher Education and Department of Education to disseminate the Filipino translation of the Asean Charter, to increase the Filipinos’ growing awareness of their identity as members of a region.

After the Asean anniversary celebration, Romulo said an election in Myanmar without pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is "a farce."

"All the parties should be there, but not only be there, they should be allowed to campaign and their votes should be counted," he said. – With Regina Bengco

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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