PGMA, 3 other ASEAN leaders reaffirm MOU on expansion of air linkages
SINGAPORE (via PLDT) (19 November) -- The Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia reaffirmed today a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the expansion of air and sea linkages signed by the four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-countries during the third BIMP-EAGA leaders' Summit in January 2007.
The MOU, which grants fifth freedom traffic rights or "open skies" in selected EAGA entry points in the sub-region, was affirmed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the other BIMP-EAGA leaders, namely Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of Malaysia and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia.
To further foster connectivity, the four leaders also reaffirmed the MOU signed by BIMP-EAGA transport ministers on the establishment and promotion of efficient and integrated sea linkages and the cross-movement of commercial buses and coaches signed in November prior to the 13th ASEAN transport meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
The BIMP-EAGA is composed of the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; Irian Jaya, Maluko and the provinces of Kalimantan and Sulawesi in Indonesia, the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and the islands of Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines covering an area of 1.6 million square kilometers with a total population of 57.5 million people.
The preservation of the so-called Coral Triangle initiated by presidential daughter Ma. Lourdes "Luli" Arroyo - the largest in the world – was agreed upon by the four leaders to maintain marine diversity, particularly tuna that spawns in BIMP-EAGA region.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said at a media briefing that Japan, the leading consumer of tuna, will be asked to contribute to the preservation of the Coral Triangle.
Dureza said the eco-tourism issue, of which the Philippines is a strong advocate, was also discussed.
He said, however, that Badawi pointed out that "we must have peace before we can attain prosperity and power," obviously referring to the peace initiatives in Mindanao hosted by Malaysia.
To this, President Arroyo expressed her thanks to the Malaysian government for helping the Philippines in its efforts to attain permanent peace in Mindanao. (OPS) [top]