Thank you, Mr. Chair, Your Majesty, Your Excellencies and to our esteemed guest, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Good morning.
At the outset allow me to add our condolences on behalf of the Filipino people for the tragic loss of life and injury from the bridge collapse that you recently suffered. We pray for the injured to return rapidly to good health.
It is only fitting and proper that we celebrate the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations by launching our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).
Although our formal relationship within the modern ASEAN framework could be considered as “relatively young,” our peoples have been of influence to each other through cultural and commercial exchanges since ancient times.
It is through this lens that I invite my ASEAN neighbors and India to approach the deepening of our partnership – as we forge our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and as we seek complementarities in the Indo-Pacific, which includes engagement in the blue economy. The Indo-Pacific has always been one seamless theater of geopolitics and geoeconomics. What happens in the Indo-Pacific has always been of importance to all of us.
The synergies between the ASEAN Outlook in the Pacific and Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative will allow us to work together on common goals. The Philippines, and the ASEAN region as a whole, are acutely susceptible to any disruptions in the Indo-Pacific – whether natural or man-made. Let us task our Ministers and senior officials to find the intersection between maritime security and economic prosperity cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. This balanced by our shared concern of preventing further environmental degradation and allowing the region’s marine ecosystem to thrive. We cannot move towards a blue economy if our oceans cannot support sustainable, vibrant life.
I also want to highlight the fragility of our terrestrial ecosystem. Each year, our regions suffer alternately from droughts and typhoons of increasing ferocity and frequency – the destructive effects of climate change are self-evident. We count on India’s continued support for the work of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity in mitigating biodiversity loss through the management of ASEAN Heritage Parks.
The current environmental crisis and global events bring to the fore the issue of food security. ASEAN, as a whole, is most vulnerable to fluctuations in rice and fertilizer supply and prices. As part of our ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025, we will enjoy closer cooperation with India towards the implementation of the “ASEAN Multi-sectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry contributing to Food Security and Sustainable Development Goals.”
We are fortunate to have survived the COVID-19 pandemic and to participate in this face-to-face meeting today. For us who have the duty to steer our countries [through] the ongoing tumult wreaked by the pandemic, there is urgency, henceforth, we ensure that our people will have better access to medical services alongside medicines and vaccines.
ASEAN friends, let us not miss the opportunity of having the so-called “pharmacy of the world” as our close neighbor and Dialogue Partner. The high cost of life-saving medicines and vaccines are barriers to a healthy population. Let us work closely with India in ensuring that our region has access to a sufficient volume of affordable, high-quality medicines and vaccines.
Before I end my remarks, let me request India’s support for the Philippines’ candidature, as the ASEAN candidate, to the UN Security Council for the term 2027-2028. I believe that the Philippines will bring its experience in building peace and forging new paths of cooperation to enrich the work of the Security Council.
Your Majesty, Excellencies, we are not at a loss for priorities as we begin to give flesh to our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership – the priorities I mentioned are but a start. So let us look forward to closer and broader ASEAN-India relations in the years to come for the brighter future that we aspire for all our peoples.
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Watch here: 19th ASEAN-India Summit
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia