Thank you, Mr. Chair. Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, and to our esteemed guest, His Excellency Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a warm welcome.
As we celebrate 50 years of ASEAN-Japan relations next year, our relationship continues to be vibrant and responsive to the demands of the changing times.
I draw special attention to our strong maritime cooperation and appreciate Japan’s support for this primary priority area of cooperation identified in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.
It is our mutual interest to ensure that any activity in our waterways adheres to the rule of law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS, to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity.
Likewise, it is to our mutual interest that our marine resources are kept protected and able to thrive and to replenish themselves for the future. Let us ensure that our Ministers continue their cooperation in fighting against illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and also in combating marine plastic debris and marine pollution.
Our cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the agility of our partnership – we came to depend on Japan’s substantial assistance to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and to the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
Similarly, we recognize the great value of our long-standing cooperation on disaster management, particularly Japan’s support for the AHA Centre or the ASEAN Coordination Council for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund. One of the recent highlight programs of the AHA Centre is the establishment of DELSA or Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN. The satellite warehouses are located in the Philippines and in Thailand. And these satellite warehouses, together with the main DELSA warehouse in Malaysia, ensure the provision of speedy relief assistance to disaster-affected regions anywhere in ASEAN.
ASEAN’s vulnerability to natural disasters and calamities is further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Let us fully utilize the ASEAN-Japan Climate Change Action Agenda 2.0 – which puts transition towards decarbonization in the forefront of our climate mitigation and adaptation strategy. Together with this, I thank and further encourage Japan to continue the strong support and involvement in the programs of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity as it strives to preserve the varied ASEAN ecosystems through the establishment and management of ASEAN Heritage Parks.
On the economic aspect, we look forward to the continued implementation of the ASEAN-Japan Economic Resilience Action Plan. In particular, I wish to highlight the importance of providing assistance and developing the resiliency of our micro, small, and medium enterprises. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how deeply vulnerable our MSMEs are during economic shocks and shifts. They are one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic economy and our now most in need of assistance.
The Philippines is fully committed to upholding regional peace and security. We welcome the Quad’s assurance of unwavering support for ASEAN unity and Centrality with the view that such minilateral mechanisms should complement the ASEAN-centered regional security architecture.
Thus, I request Japan’s support for the Philippines’ candidature, as the ASEAN candidate, to the UN Security Council for the term of 2027-2028. We have experience in building peace and forging new paths of cooperation, and I’m confident that the Philippines can enrich the work of the Security Council.
I cannot end my remarks without expressing my appreciation for Japan’s hospitality and protection over 250,000 Filipinos who now call Japan home. They have been taken in by the Japanese people and have now found a place to live and work happily. For that we will always be grateful.
Your Excellencies, Your Majesty, it is my honor to attend my first ASEAN-Japan Summit. I look forward with great anticipation to what lies ahead of ASEAN-Japan relations. Let us keep this momentum that we have begun of our relations
alive as we prepare to celebrate our 50th ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit next year.
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Watch here: 25th ASEAN-Japan Summit
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia