President Benigno Aquino III is expected to take a tough stand on human rights at the fifth East Asia Summit on October 28-30 in Hanoi, Vietnam, which for the first time brings together the United States and Russia, the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six Asia Pacific countries of Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, and South Korea, the DFA said in a statement Friday.
At the historic summit, Aquino is expected to urge junta-ruled Myanmar, which will hold on Nov. 7 its first national elections in two decades, to stand by its commitment to the full democratization of that southeast Asian country, the DFA said.
Aquino will also call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners including Nobel Peace laureate and democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi “as a gesture of goodwill."
During the summit, the president is expected to push for the stronger protection of Filipino migrant workers’ rights, and to seek the creation of a legally binding instrument that will implement the 2007 ASEAN Leaders Declaration on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
The 2007 declaration urges receiving and sending countries to cooperate closely to resolve cases of illegal migrant workers and “to promote the full potential and dignity of (all) migrant workers in a climate of freedom, equity, and stability." The statement, however, is not legally binding.
At the summit, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary Hillary Rodham-Clinton are expected to discuss the priorities of their powerful nations, Aquino will reiterate Manila’s offer to host the secretariat of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
Cooperation, food, energy, disasters, Spratleys
Apart from human rights, Aquino is also expected to push at the summit for Philippine interests in four other key areas — economic cooperation, political and security cooperation, food and energy security and disaster management. (See: Four agreements with Vietnam to be signed during Aquino's visit)
At the summit, the country will also urge the creation of a “nautical highway" as part of measures to “promote trade and investment and to create employment opportunities for the region’s peoples," the DFA said.
Aquino will also push for the creation of a binding code to prevent armed clashes and wars from igniting in the South China sea.
The new code will strengthen the existing non-binding agreement, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed by China and ASEAN countries in 2002.
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. told the Associated Press on Oct. 4 that the Asian countries disputing ownership of the Spratly islands need to turn their 2002 accord into a legally binding code to prevent clashes and keep the vast region open to commerce. (See: US: China, ASEAN should strengthen Spratlys pact)
The US is concerned that the dispute could hurt access to one of the world's busiest commercial sea lanes, and that the territorial dispute over the oil-rich islands could spark Asia's next conflict.
At the summit, Aquino is also expected to encourage other ASEAN countries to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
With 2010 being the International Year of Biodiversity, the Philippines will push for the ratification of the agreement establishing the Asean Centre for Biodiversity and the creation of an ASEAN Biodiversity Fund.
How to address poverty will also be an issue Aquino will discuss at the summit, the DFA said.
The 16-nation East Asia Summit, an emerging political and economic bloc, includes the 10 ASEAN countries and dialogue partners like Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, and Korea.
Since its first summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2005, four summits have been held. The United States and Russia will be included as formal members of the bloc in the upcoming fifth summit.
The East Asian Summit was a brainchild of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad for an East Asia Economic Caucus.
The Philippines is a founding member of the ASEAN, which was created in 1967 and now includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.