PNoy arrives in Brunei for ASEAN Summit
MANILA - President Aquino has arrived in Brunei Darussalam for the 23rd ASEAN Summit, as well as meetings with 11 other dialogue partners spread over two days.
The President hopped over to the Bruneian capital of Bandar Seri Begawan from Bali, Indonesia where he attended the APEC Summit, a meeting of leaders of Pacific rim economies.
It's going to be a hectic two days for the President because from being a simple association of 10 countries in Southeast Asia, ASEAN has evolved into a group that also engages, holds dialogues with 9 other countries including the US, China and Japan, as well as the European Union and the United Nations.
All in all, the President will participate in 9 summits, or leaders' meetings, during which he is expected to focus on:
- support for micro-, small-, and medium enterprises to achieve sustainable growth with equity and facilitating free flow of goods;
- safeguarding vulnerable populations through social protection efforts;
- deepening engagement with external partners and the maintenance of ASEAN centrality; and
- adherence to the rule of law and maritime security and cooperation
The last one - adherence to the rule of law and maritime security and cooperation - is of special interest to the President in light of the Philippines' decision to file a petition before the International Arbitral Tribunal over China's incursions into Bajo de Masinloc or Scarborough Shoal, and Ayungin Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Philippines said it maintains its position that issues in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully and through a rules-based approach under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
As such, all eyes are on tomorrow's dialogue between ASEAN and China, the 16th of its kind. Representing China will be their Premier Li Kequiang.
The question is: will there be a joint statement or declaration that would be a step towards adopting a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea?