Incoming President Aquino meets with ASEAN diplomats

June 17, 2010 8:30 pm 

By Mediatrix P. Cristobal

MANILA, June 17 –- Incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino 3rd vowed to improve the country's foreign relations and policies as he met Thursday with diplomats from eight of the Philippines' partners in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN).

His ASEAN visitors were Brunei Darussalam Ambassador Malai Hajah Halimah Malai Yussof, Cambodian Charge d'Affaires Tith Sarunreth, Indonesian Ambassador Yohanes Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo, Laos Ambassador Leuane Sombounkhan, Malaysian Charge d'Affaires Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, Singapore Ambassador A. Selverajah, Thailand Ambassador Kulkumut Singhara Na Ayudhya and Vietnam Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu.

“We talked of the primacy of addressing issues within our region as a bloc, as a unified bloc at that. And in that sense, the phrase was, we can be as ASEAN in the driver’s seat affecting our own courses and our future, especially in dealing with a lot of the superpowers,” he said.

The country's 15th President said the meeting focused on the growth of the ASEAN bloc, where the country is a member along with Myanmar.

He said he will review the country's policy, especially in foreign affairs, to reach out to Filipino migrants and/or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who comprise about 10 percent of the Philippines' total population.

“We want to redefine it better. We want to have our own foreign affairs be more responsive to the close to 10 percent of our population who are outside our country trying to find ways and means to earn a living,” he stressed.

“Will I continue that practice? I don’t think so. I will improve what is happening there,” he added.

Aquino also said he will attend the forthcoming ASEAN Summit to be held in Vietnam late this year, as well as other states meeting, but only those that have high importance.

“There will be prioritization. Most probably, I will attend the ASEAN Summit given its importance. There is, of course, a need to go to the biggest market we have, which is the United States. We want to have growth as far as the European Union is concerned,” he added.

”But if I go there every two months, that should be an issue. But if I don’t go there even once, that may also be an issue. Perhaps we can set the groundwork so the details, the follow-through can be handled in a more expeditious, more efficient and cheaper manner by those who are under me,” he said. (PNA) scs/MPC

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