By Roy Mabasa
The Philippines will be highlighting the role the country plays and could play not just as a participant but as an active contributor to regional counter-terrorism efforts during the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit to be held in Sydney this week.
According to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, he would also share the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build Program that is intended to hasten development across the country, especially Mindanao.
Secretary will be representing President Rodrigo Duterte in the two-day leaders dialogue that is expected to focus on political-security, business, and other regional concerns.
As Special Representative of the President, he will join Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other ASEAN Heads of State in the second leader’s meeting between ASEAN and its oldest dialogue partner.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo said the Special Summit will highlight ASEAN-Australia cooperation under the group’s three pillars and will focus on regional security, future prosperity, people and further dialogue and cooperation.
“The Special Summit is expected to strengthen regional security and prosperity through intensified leader-level discussion and a forward program of increased practical engagement on education, economic cooperation, countering terrorism and common security challenges,” Undersecretary Manalo said.
Among the outcomes of the summit is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Countering International Terrorism, which establishes a framework to strengthen practical cooperation and collaboration on counter-terrorism through a package of 10 technical assistance and capacity building programs.
The agreement is in support of the Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism that was agreed upon in 2016.
A Business Summit will also be held on the sides of the Special Summit that will be attended by prominent Filipino business leaders such as Jaime Zobel de Ayala, Enrique Razon, Lance Gokongwei, Ramon Ang, Joey Concepcion, Manuel V. Pangilinan and Teresita Sy-Coson.
Ambassador to Canberra Minda Cruz said Secretary Cayetano will also have the opportunity to discuss developments in the Philippines with members of the Filipino Community who he will be meeting before returning to Manila on Sunday.
Secretary Cayetano will be joined by Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo and other officials from DFA and the Department of Trade and Industry.