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DFA chief pushes for PHL initiatives in achieving ASEAN Community in preparatory meetings

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Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario successfully pushed forward Philippine priorities in achieving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community building goals in 2015, as he attended the 5th Meeting of the Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM) and the 8th Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) in preparation for the 18th ASEAN Summit in Jakarta.

The 18th ASEAN Leaders' Summit opened on Saturday.

A DFA statement said these Philippines' priorities include the following:

* The full and effective implementation the ASEAN Work Plan on Combating Illicit Drug Production, Trafficking and Use for 2009 to 2015 to achieve a Drug-Free ASEAN by 2015;

* The Philippines' commitment to promote and protect human rights in ASEAN through the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and the implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers;

* The completion of the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) this year to commemorate 20 years of ASEAN-China strategic partnership;

* ASEAN Member States' need for closer coordination to promote and protect the welfare of its nationals caught in crisis situations given the peace and security situation in the Middle East and Africa;

* ASEAN Member States' collective fight against piracy through the development of multilateral and bilateral legal arrangements to facilitate apprehension, investigation, prosecution, and extradition, exchange of witness, sharing of evidence, inquiry, seizure and forfeiture of proceeds of piracy in order to enhance mutual legal and administrative assistance among ASEAN Member States, which is in accordance with the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime;

* Enhancing disaster management cooperation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) through improving coordination mechanisms and capacity building such as the ARF Disaster Relief Exercise (DiREx) held in Manado, Indonesia on March 14-19;

* The full implementation of the APSC Communication Plan, which was adopted in 2010 to enhance awareness among the peoples in ASEAN of how APSC benefits the region to contribute to the promotion of peace and security in the region;

* The preparation of an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) as soon as possible as a mechanism to enhance ASEAN's efforts in combating trafficking in persons. In this regard, the Philippines, as the lead shepherd on Trafficking in Persons, will host the "Experts' Meeting to Study the Feasibility on Developing an ASEAN Convention on Trafficking in Persons" in June, and the 5th Senior Officials' Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) Working Group Meeting on TIP and the 20th Meeting of the Heads of Specialist Anti-Trafficking Units in July this year;

Tangible progress on the implementation of the priority projects and key actions of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) which includes the feasibility studies on: (1) the ASEAN Roll-On/Roll-Off (RO-RO) and Short Sea Shipping; and (2) the extension of the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline in BIMP-EAGA; and,

* The inclusion of political and security issues in the agenda of the East Asia Summit (EAS) by creating an environment conducive to discussion of such issues. By doing this, ASEAN raises the strategic value of the EAS as a leaders' forum with the inclusion of the United States and the Russian Federation as new members.

As ASEAN is only four years away from its target date of building its community by 2015, Del Rosario consistently emphasized in the meetings the need for ASEAN to step up and expedite its work to realize an ASEAN Community that is peaceful, stable, economically competitive and people-oriented. (Faye P. Velasco-PNA)




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