Aquino off to last ASEAN Summit as president
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III left the Philippines on Monday, February 15, for his last Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit as chief executive.
Aquino said he was flying to the United States upon the invitation of US President Barack Obama to help boost the joint strategic partnership between the US and ASEAN.
In his departure speech on Monday, Aquino said the US has a big role in maintaining peace and stability in the region, particularly in the face of the dispute over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Aquino said ASEAN countries remain one with the US in pushing for the rule of law in the oceans. (READ: Aquino to raise South China Sea row at ASEAN-US Summit)
“Para sa ating lahat, malinaw naman: pantay ang lahat sa harap ng batas,” the Philippine president said. (For all of us, it is clear: everyone is equal in the face of the law.)
He added, “Ito nga po ang pinakahuling ASEAN Summit na dadaluhan ko bilang Pangulo ng Pilipinas.” (This is the last ASEAN Summit I am attending as President of the Philippines.)
In this context, he plans to share with ASEAN leaders his insights on the peace process, as well as his moves to address extremism.
Aquino said he remains positive even if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to create a more powerful Muslim region in the southern Philippines, failed to prosper in Congress.
“Naudlot man ang panukalang Bangsamoro Basic Law sa ating Kongreso, di nagbabago ang ating posisyon ukol sa BBL: Ito pa rin pinakatamang landas tungo sa kapayapaan at kaunlaran para sa Mindanao,” he said.
(While the BBL was stalled in Congress, our position on the BBL remains unchanging: It is still the best way toward peace and prosperity in Mindanao.)
“Sa ating pagpupulong, ilalatag natin ang mga kongkretong hakbang na ating ipapatupad sa kabila ng pagkabinbin ng BBL,” he added. (In our meeting, we will show the concrete steps we will take despite the stalling of the BBL.)
Aquino said that after the ASEAN-US Summit, he will undertake a working visit to Los Angeles.
He said he, like his father, was invited to speak before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
The President is set to return to the Philippines on Friday, February 19. – Rappler.com