Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Office of the Press Secretary OIC-Usec. Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, with DFA Spokesperson Ambassador Teresita Daza, DFA Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu and DFA Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial

Event Press Briefing
Location Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang

ASEC. DE VERA: Kasama natin ngayon si OPS OIC-Undersecretary Atty. Cheloy Garafil. Ma’am?

USEC. GARAFIL: Good afternoon Malacañang Press Corps, Department of Foreign Affairs Press Corps and ASEAN Philippine Media Delegation. The ASEAN Summit is the highest policymaking-body in ASEAN, comprising the heads of state of government or ASEAN member-states. It is held twice a year and serves as a venue for discussion and policy deliberations on various developments and global issues affecting the South East Asian Region and beyond.

The 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits and related summits will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia next week. The East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Plus Three summit, and the ASEAN Leaders Meeting with the UN Secretary-General will be held concurrently.

These related summits will review the existing and new areas of cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues between ASEAN and its dialogue partners. The dialogue partners include Australia, Canada, China, India, Republic of Korea, and the USA.

During the trip, the President will also be with the Filipino Community in Cambodia. He will update them on the programs and policies of his administration, especially on the protection and promotion of the rights and welfare of OFWs.

To give us more details on the participation of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the ASEAN Summit next week, we have this afternoon, the following officials for the Department of Foreign Affairs: DFA Spokesperson Ambassador Teresita Daza, Office of the ASEAN Affairs Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu, and Office of the Asian and Pacific Affairs Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial.

So, ma’am, ladies first. If you have any statement, please go ahead. Thank you.

DFA SPOKESPERSON AMB. DAZA: I just want to thank the OPS for organizing this; it is a joint press conference. We also had the DFA Press Corps joining us, online so that they can answer questions relative to this meeting.  This is one of the important meetings that will be held this year and we are very happy to have ASec. Daniel Espiritu who is heading ASEAN, and also ASec. Niel Imperial who heads AsPac (Asia and Pacific) to actually answer your questions, both on what is happening with ASEAN, as well as in terms of bilateral meetings that will be convened during this event. Thank you.

USEC. GARAFIL: We will now entertain questions.

ASEC. DE VERA: Questions from MPC?

We have a question from Johnna Giolagon of Asahi Shimbun: Please expound on recommendations that foreign ministers will present to leaders in connection with Myanmar.

ASEC. ESPIRITU: Okay, Last October 27, we had special Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Jakarta to discuss the issue of Myanmar. During that meeting, the different foreign ministers put forth a list of recommendations to push forward the implementation of the 5-Point consensus.  But this will still have to be processed. So, I think, I better not preempt the nature of the list at this point, because it will still be processed by some leaders of ASEAN on the way to the Summit. And whatever will be processed there will be cleared by the foreign ministers before it could be elevated to the summit leaders during the summit. Thank you.

ASEC. DE VERA: ASec., follow up from Johnna: Will ASEAN Leaders initiate any new action to encourage Myanmar’s military to resume or fast-track the implementation of  ASEAN’s 5-point consensus?

ASEC. ESPIRITU: Yeah, definitely, they will and that is why there are these eleven recommendations that are going to be discussed. But at this point, there’s still no consensus on the 11th and so this will have to be processed, as I said a moment ago, yeah.

ASEC. DE VERA: Next question from Neil Jerome Morales of Reuters:  We are hearing from EU sources that ASEAN countries have shown for the first time an interest in discussing a possible trade deal with the EU ahead of the EU-ASEAN Summit in December in Brussels. At the ASEAN Summit next week, are there plans to launch exploratory talks with EU for an EU-ASEAN FTA? Are there plans to launch such exploratory talks to be discussed?

ASEC. ESPIRITU: Okay. The ASEAN-EU FTA has started—the talk on that, the negotiations have started almost ten years ago. But somewhere along the way, it’s stalled and up to this point, there is still no progress on that. And so far, there is no plan yet or there is concrete discussion yet on the resumption of such talks.

Now, the coming ASEAN Summit will be just an ASEAN Summit. We will have a separate commemorative summit in Brussels for ASEAN-EU in December, and I think that could be a good venue for a discussion on that. Although, there is nothing yet on the table, as far as we are concerned today. Thank you.

DFA SPOKESPERSON AMB. DAZA: ASec., can I just add too?

ASEC. DE VERA: Go ahead, Ma’am.

DFA SPOKESPERSON AMB. DAZA: Just for backgrounder ‘no. As rightfully mentioned by ASec., the talks on the ASEAN-EU FTA have been ongoing. In 2007 negotiations for that was launched in 2009, it was suspended. Then again in 2017, it was agreed to be launched, to re-launch the discussion on this and a joint working group was established. But since then, there were other developments that were happening also at the bilateral level. ASEAN, individual ASEAN countries started also negotiating with the EU in terms of bilateral FTA with them. So Singapore for example, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia commenced negotiations on the FTAs.  But the one that prospered was of Singapore and Vietnam. And this track is also ongoing besides discussion on supposedly the ASEAN-EU FTA.

We were informed that there were actually discussions that were raised this year for resumption of these and the ASEAN actually also bid a counter proposal but it’s still at the stage where there’s ongoing discussions on it. But whether it will be launched, and it would be undertaken is something that will actually still be seen because from the ASEAN’s perspective we’re waiting actually, the ASEAN is waiting for the response of the EU in terms of their proposals presented to them already in August 2022.

ASEC. DALE DE VERA: Thank you, ma’am. Vans Fernandez, Police Files.

VANS FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Good afternoon to all the men and ladies. For Asec. Daniel Espiritu: Aside from the ASEAN ano pa ba ang other trips na schedule ng ating Pangulo and their importance?

ASEC. DANIEL ESPIRITU: Of course, after ASEAN he will attend the APEC Summit also in Bangkok, and then in December as I said a moment ago the ASEAN-EU Summit in Brussels.

VANS FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: What’s the importance behind it?

ASEC. DANIEL ESPIRITU: I cannot speak really for APEC but it’s more on the trade and investment facilitation in the Asia Pacific; it’s composed of the 21 countries. So, the agenda there, especially on post-pandemic recovery, would be very crucial for the economic agenda of the region, especially in terms of resolving the outstanding issues that were spawned in the wake of the Ukraine crisis especially food, and energy security issues, the disruption of the supply chain in the world, and the other measures that would be agreed upon by the 21 economic leaders of APEC to pave the way forward for more sustainable recovery in the years ahead. Thank you.

VANS FERNANDEZ/POLICE FILES: Thank you very much, sir.

DFA SPOKESPERSON AMB. DAZA: You asked for significance, but I also want to add to what Asec. Dan has mentioned. November will be quite hectic, you’re correct in that. It will be a hectic period for DFA and the government because of the number of meetings that we’re going to be attended and participated in, and aside from the ASEAN which will be held soon immediately after will be APEC, and in the same month of November where the President, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and the Secretary of Trade and Industry will participate in a leaders’ week in Bangkok. This will be the first meeting of the President and his administration. And it will be significant because we are a founding member of APEC.

As you all know APEC was established in 1989, it has 21 member economies and it covers the areas of trade and investment, energy cooperation, conservation of marine resources, telecommunication, and human resource development.

It is significant to the Philippines largely because for the Philippines, APEC economies account for 85% of total trade of the Philippines. Over 7.5 million out of 10.7 billion or 70% of Filipinos abroad call APEC Region home. They are also responsible for 68% of the remittances making its way to the Philippine economy. And in terms of visitors to the Philippines from APEC, it comprises about 56% of tourist arrivals.

Like all meetings, it’s an important platform for us to actually share our experiences across different areas, and the initiatives that were taken especially in terms of the post-COVID recovery, our desire to actually see how more we can have more supply chain resiliencies. So, there are a number of areas that are a priority to the Philippines that will actually be discussed.

I’m happy to know that with OPS’s support there may be another briefing on the APEC-Philippine participation in APEC that will be held or convened on Monday. Yes, so all questions related to APEC can actually be raised during that meeting.

ASEC. DALE DE VERA: Next question, Racquel Bayan.

RACQUEL BAYAN: Good afternoon po, ma’am. May we know po how many Cabinet officials or kung sino po iyong bubuo ng Philippine delegation na makakasama ni BBM sa Cambodia po?

ASEC. DANIEL ESPIRITU: Okay. At this point, the Phil del [Philippine delegation] is not yet final. But the most probable ones are of course the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and the Secretary of Trade, and also the Secretary of DSWD. And why these three? Because they form the three pillars of ASEAN – the Secretary of Foreign Affairs is for the political security pillar; the Secretary of Trade for the economic pillar; and the DSWD Secretary for the social, cultural pillar. But at the same time, it’s up to the President to decide who others to bring with him, especially on issues that may be relevant to these other Cabinet Secretaries because actually, those three Cabinet Secretaries are only the lead in these pillars, but these pillars also include other Cabinet members.

Thank you.

RACQUEL BAYAN: How about ASEAN leaders for world leaders na magkakaroon ng bilateral meeting with the President po?

ASEC. DANIEL ESPIRITU: I guess, I will turn it over to Asec. Niel.

ASEC. NATHANIEL IMPERIAL: Thank you very much for that question. As you know, many world leaders and regional leaders will be present during the ASEAN meetings so it’s a great opportunity for our President to meet bilaterally with his counterparts.

So far, we’re still finalizing the bilateral meetings that will be conducted by the President. But I think it would be safe to say that the first one would be with the host government, with Cambodia. So, the President is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen. As a matter of courtesy, it will be their first meeting and the first meeting as the new President of the Philippines.

We also expect a bilateral meeting between the President and the Korean president. As you know, the Republic of Korea is a key partner of the Philippines economically, in terms of defense and security, and also in terms of tourism, and we have a very multifaceted relationship with the Republic of Korea. So it’s very important that we discuss current and pending issues between our two countries and the opportunities that we can pursue together with the Republic of Korea.

Foremost among the topics that they will probably discuss would be the conclusion of the free trade agreement between our two countries. Korea is only the second country with which we will be concluding a free trade agreement after Japan. Aside from that, we have a very robust defense and security cooperation as you well know.

Okay. And yes, I can’t really speak for the other bilateral meetings because they don’t fall under the purview of ASPAC. But there will be more than two bilateral meetings being scheduled between the President and his counterpart leader. Thank you.

ASEC. DE VERA: Okay. We have a question from Ron Lopez of Agence France-Presse: We would like to know the expectation from the DFA on meeting? May we know what will the Philippines push for during the meeting? What will they block anything to expect regarding the five-point consensus on Myanmar?

DFA ASEC. ESPIRITU: Okay, let me start probably with the foreign policy priorities of the President when it comes to ASEAN. Of course, at the top of the list is the post-pandemic economic recovery and transformation. So that would cover food security, energy security, digital transformation and the digital economy, and also climate change in as much as this is very much related to our disaster management efforts in the Philippines.

Now, with regards to international issues especially on Myanmar, we are very much at the forefront of the call for the implementation of the five-point consensus. And then, on other international issues such as Ukraine, we are, of course, calling for the cessation of hostilities, and the return of the concerned parties to the negotiating table. And also, we’ll have to discuss also the negative impact, the global impact of the crisis especially on the global economy, stagflation and again, energy shortage, food shortage and the host of other ramifications of this conflict.

Now, the South China Sea will also be there because we always carry that in all of our meetings in the international fora. Thank you.

ASEC. DE VERA: We have another question from Ella Hermonio of Nikkei: In an address last month, President Marcos said that ASEAN has been unable to bring Myanmar to the table to discuss and resolve their country’s issues. He even proposed to engage with representatives of their military government. Will President Marcos talk about this matter during the summit? And if he will in fact propose a dialogue with the representatives of the junta?

DFA ASEC. ESPIRITU: Definitely, the President will carry that issue in all of the meetings of ASEAN. But as for the exact proposals, I think it’s better not to preempt that one because that will be fluid and that will be made in conjunction with the other heads of states of ASEAN; and you know, ASEAN decides by consensus not just by unilateral proposals. Thank you.

EDEN SANTOS/NET25: Good afternoon po. Since this is the first time po na dadalo si PBBM sa ASEAN Summit, ano po ang naging pagpupulong kanina at iyong briefing po ng DFA sa ating Pangulo?

DFA ASEC. ESPIRITU: Well, you will be surprised, the President is very much informed about ASEAN, in fact, even apart from DFA, apart from our own briefings because, you know, our briefings have been going on even before the ASEAN Summit. He’s been getting copies briefing papers from us. And there are also issues on the day-to-day operations of ASEAN that are brought to his attention through our communications and memoranda to him. So he is very well-versed on the major issues of ASEAN, and so iyong kanina, kumbaga pinunan na lang namin iyong kaalaman niya on ASEAN. And we were happy to get also his inputs on how to go about the meeting in ASEAN, the discussions, and the issues that we will put forward. So that was a very productive discussion. Thank you.

ASEC. DE VERA: Last question from Joyce Rocamora of Philippine News Agency: North Korea has been testing several missiles at an unprecedented rate this year. Are there significant moves or actions that ASEAN or the Philippines is expected to make with regard this development in the Korean Peninsula?

DFA ASEC. ESPIRITU: In all of the meetings of ASEAN, at all levels, not only the summit, in the coming summit, but also in the past joint committee meeting, as well as in the ASEAN Ministerial meeting and even lower-level meetings, North Korea has always been a part of the agenda. And out position on that has always been consistent and clear: We have always expressed our concern regarding the ballistic missile tests of North Korea, and we have always called on the North Korea to abide by the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions on this issue, and we’ve always called on the parties in the Korean peninsula to return to the negotiating table to find peaceful resolution on this dispute. Thank you.

I will also turn the table to Asec. Niel of ASPAC in as much as he covers more North Korea and the Korean Peninsula issues. Thank you.

DFA ASEC. IMPERIAL: Thank you, Asec. Dan. I’d just like to inform you that the Philippines has issued another statement on the November 2 ballistic missile launches of North Korea, and this is already the fourth statement to be issued by the Philippines since early this year basically condemning the missile tests or launches.

And as Asec. Dan said, similar to the position of ASEAN, calling on all parties to resume peaceful dialogue and negotiations and to lessen the tension in the Korean Peninsula, and this is of paramount concern to us because we do have around 46,500 Filipinos living and working in Republic of Korea, in close proximity to North Korea.

And we have called on North Korea to abide by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions as mentioned by Assistant Secretary Espiritu. Thank you.

OIC-USEC. GARAFIL: Thank you very much. That ends our briefing today. Let me thank again Ambassador Teresita Daza, Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu and Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial for joining us. And thank you Malacañang Press Corps and the Department of Foreign Affairs Press Corps and ASEAN Philippine media delegation for your participation. Magandang hapon po.

 

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SOURCE: OPS-NIB (News and Information Bureau – Transcription Section)