12th ASEAN Summit highlights Filipino leadership potentials
by Rutchie Cabahug-Aguhob
Cagayan de Oro City (17 January) -- The diplomatic assets and leadership potential of the Philippines as host of the recently concluded 12th ASEAN Summit in Mandaue City, Cebu has led to the signing of 12 landmark agreements.
These included pacts on counter-terrorism, protection of migrant workers, free trade, a pro-democracy charter and those on telecommunications, transportation and tourism which should anchor the country's sustained positives.
Thus, Pres. Arroyo, in behalf of all Filipinos, thanked all the ASEAN leaders who attended the summit for the honor they have bestowed upon the Philippines and for working for a caring and sharing regional community.
"We, as a region, have started to muster our vast human and material resources to broaden trade, tourism, energy security and political integration at a pace and scale never seen before," she cited.
"Now we are out to capture the grand prize, that of more prosperous and safer communities, a region of peace and stability and a world of goodwill and friendship of all creeds, colors and cultures," the President added.
As Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process (OPAPP) said, the momentous regional accords signed and backed by the political will of the Filipinos will have immediate back-up so as not to put into waste the efforts of the East and Southeast Asian leaders in the Summit.
Meanwhile, he said a national policy support for travel tax exemptions have been proposed within the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
The exemptions, which will last until Sept. of 2008, are for travels originating from Mindanao and Palawan where a 50% discount on airport fees have also been proposed, as well as a 50% discount on port tariff rates within the BIMP-EAGA for flag â€"carrier ships of the Philippines and Malaysia.
The BIMP-EAGA covers a land area of 1.6 million sq. km. and a population of 57.5 million, Dureza said. (PIA 10) [top]