Commentary: ASEAN leaders ink documents to stamp out poverty and terrorism
By Henry S. Lagasca
San Fernando City, La Union (17 January) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in urging fellow leaders "to bring ASEAN to the grassroots to "usher in payback time" for the ordinary people said that the successful conclusion of the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) summit would now focus its attention of the many problems of poverty and terrorism.
Bidding farewell to the delegates of the regional grouping in East Asia, President Arroyo said that the caring and sharing of this formidable regional alliance will come in varied dimensions hinged on a "closely integrated, dynamic and vibrant regional economy."
ASEAN leaders have reaffirmed a "strong commitment toward accelerating the achievement of East Asian countries up to 2015 which the Philippines successfully hosted in Cebu from January 10 to 15.
The vision is "to create a single community similar to the European Union" in the midst of rapid global economic developments to make ASEAN become a catalyst, in the collective spirit of hope and unity, in establishing a one caring and strong community in the region.
The 12th ASEAN summit also forged milestone commitments under free trade agreements with dialogue partners to include Australia, China, Japan, India, South Korea, New Zealand and Timor Leste.
President Arroyo thanked ASEAN-member countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma (Myanmar), Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for their attendance in Cebu for the summit which she described as "a testament to the desire of leaders and their people for a more prosperous and safe communities, a region of peace and stability and a world of goodwill and friendship of all creeds, colors and culture."
One significant output of the summit was the presentation of the draft of the ASEAN Charter by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), a testament that would vigorously pursue to push for "a stronger, more united and cohesive ASEAN" that would be more equipped to deal with evolving regional challenges and threats to achieve the 2015 goal.
President Arroyo also lauded the EPG for its valuable inputs into the blueprint of an ASEAN Charter to establish One Vision, One Identity, One Community and One Union within ASEAN.
The ASEAN Charter is the first legally binding document since its founding in 1967. It would turn the regional grouping into a legal entity with rules and regulation rather than the traditional consensus in decision making and in forging agreements.
President Arroyo, who chaired all the meetings, said that the ASEAN summit made the Filipinos proud as emerged triumphant after a successful gathering that produced important documents involving counterterrorism, trade, tourism, energy security, migrant labor and political integration, which the President proudly claims, "at a pace and scale never seen before." (PIA Region 1) [top]