PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. flew to Labuan Bajo, Indonesia to attend the 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) Summit on May 10, 2023.

In his departure speech, Marcos said he will promote and protect the country’s interests particularly on economic growth, food and energy security, trade and investment, efforts in combating transnational crimes such as the trafficking in persons, and protecting migrant workers in crisis situations, among others.

The Asean leaders are also expected to share and exchange views on pressing issues in the region such as developments in the South China Sea, the situation in Myanmar, and major power rivalries.

“I am always optimistic because of all the interactions that we have had with the different leaders of Asean member states, and for that matter Apec and all the Apec plus conferences that we’ve had, there seems to be a very clear area of commonality. And as the theme of this Asean Summit is clearly manifesting, it is once again towards economic growth and to recognize that Asean and Southeast Asia have been the partners that the other parts of the world — and I speak therefore of India, I speak of China, I speak of the European Union, the United States, Latin America, even some elements of Africa — look to Southeast Asia as the growth center for the global economy,” said Marcos.

“And that is why it is very important that we go and continue to discuss amongst other Asean leaders of all the member states on how we can maximize and find that extra energy, that synergy from our working together,” he added.

This year’s Asean summit chaired by Indonesia was dubbed “Asean Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.”

During the trip, Marcos will also have a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Timor-Leste who will join the summit as an observer.

The Asean leadership earlier approved the membership of Timor-Leste as the bloc’s 11th member.

Marcos will also participate in the 15th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Summit, as well as various interfaces of the Asean Leaders with the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), and representatives from the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean-BAC), Asean Youth, and the High-Level Task Force on the Asean Community Post-2025 Vision.

“In these meetings, we will have the opportunity to highlight the importance of strengthening cooperation in the BIMP-EAGA subregion to sustain its thriving economy, the strong partnership between the executive and legislative bodies of Asean, the pivotal role of private sector and the youth in advancing growth and shaping the future as well as the future direction of the Asean Vision,” said Marcos. (SunStar Philippines)