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Marcos travels to Indonesia for 42nd ASEAN Summit 

by Carl Santos

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. traveled to Indonesia on Tuesday, May 9, to attend the biannual meeting of Southeast Asian leaders on issues affecting the region. 

Marcos was accompanied by several Cabinet members and his wife, Liza, during the trip to Labuan Bajo town in eastern Indonesia for the 42nd ASEAN Summit. 

“My participation will serve to promote and protect the interests of our country, including our continued efforts towards economic growth, attaining food and energy security, promoting trade and investment, combating transnational crimes such as the trafficking in persons, and protecting migrant workers in crisis situations, amongst others,” the President said in a speech at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

“The Leaders of ASEAN will also exchange views on pressing issues of common concerns such as developments in the South China Sea, the situation in Myanmar, and major power rivalries, amongst others,” he added. 

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Diplomats earlier told AFP that the Myanmar crisis would be a key issue during the May 10-11 summit. 

The 10-member regional bloc will again “strongly condemn” the air strike and demand an immediate end to the violence in its end-of-summit statement to be issued by this year’s chair, Indonesia, according to a draft seen by AFP.

“This would be the only way to create a conducive environment for an inclusive national dialogue to find a sustainable peaceful solution in Myanmar,” the draft statement said.

Myanmar remains an ASEAN member but has been barred from top-level summits over the junta’s failure to implement the peace plan.

Jakarta’s chairmanship of the bloc has raised hopes that ASEAN could push for a peaceful solution, using its economic weight as well as its diplomatic experience.

ASEAN has long been criticized for its inaction, but its initiatives are limited by its charter principles of consensus and non-interference.

Among the other issues to be discussed at the summit will be the disputed South China Sea. Several ASEAN members have partial claims to the waterway, which China claims almost entirely.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is also expected to outline a roadmap for East Timor’s membership in the bloc. 

“We will be joined by the Leader of Timor-Leste at the 42nd ASEAN Summit. This is the first time that Timor-Leste will join ASEAN as an observer, and I’m looking forward to a bilateral meeting with the leaders of Timor-Leste so that we can discuss their prospective membership in ASEAN,” Marcos said.

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