ASEAN future cooperation in crisis situations given focus
By Miriam P. Aquino
San Fernando City, La Union (31 July) -- Member countries of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are closing ranks to extend consular assistance to their nationals caught in conflict or crisis situations in third countries.
Foreign Ministers from the 10-member ASEAN - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - drafted a Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on extending consular assistance by ASEAN missions in third countries.
The basic principles embodied in this SOP, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is for an ASEAN country to automatically provide assistance to nationals of another ASEAN state similar to the kind of help/assistance given to their own nationals, based on capacities and resources of the relevant missions during crisis.
In case of imminent danger, however, the DFA explained that "a citizen of an ASEAN member country may directly seek for an assistance from the consular missions of other ASEAN member countries or go directly to shelters or sanctuaries provided by their missions."
This SOP as inspired by last year's "One Caring and Sharing Community" theme of the 12th ASEAN Leaders' Summit, is an offshoot of official Philippine policies giving priority to the protection of its nationals abroad initiated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DFA Asst. Secretary and Spokesperson Claro Cristobal said.
For the Philippines as well as for other ASEAN member states, this will serve as a "knight in shining armor" especially for our OFWs and Filipinas married to foreigners abroad who experience maltreatment and prejudice/injustice in other countries. (PIA La Union) [top]