Philippines Highlights ASEAN Centrality at East Asia Summit Senior Officials’ Meeting 

East Asia Summit Senior Officials Meeting 1

Philippine SOM Leader and Acting Undersecretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro delivers the Philippines’ omnibus intervention at the East Asia Summit Senior Officials’ Meeting on 24 June 2021 via videoconference. (DFA-ASEAN photo)

MANILA 29 June 2021 – Philippine Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Leader and Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Affairs Maria Theresa P. Lazaro highlighted the primacy of ASEAN Centrality and ASEAN-led mechanisms in pursuing cooperation in the region at the East Asia Summit (EAS) Senior Officials’ Meeting held on 24 June 2021 via videoconference.

“ASEAN will continue to play a key role in shaping a regional architecture of peace, security, stability and prosperity for the peoples of ASEAN,” emphasized Philippine SOM Leader Lazaro in her omnibus intervention. 

The Philippines also highlighted that equitable and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines remains ASEAN’s top priority in its pursuit of comprehensive recovery.  

EAS Participating Countries reiterated their pledges to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and shared updates on initiatives to assist the region in addressing the pandemic, including Australia’s AUS$200 million partnership with UNICEF in providing vaccine doses to countries in Southeast Asia, Japan’s efforts to distribute 1.8 billion doses to COVAX Advance Market Commitment eligible countries, and the United States’ additional allotment of 16 million vaccine doses for Asia. 

The EAS SOM Leaders exchanged views on regional and international developments. On the South China Sea, the Philippines emphasized that it will continue to protest infringements on the Philippines’ sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction. 

Philippine SOM Leader Lazaro gave importance to upholding the freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, and the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.

East Asia Summit Senior Officials Meeting 2

EAS SOM Leaders discuss regional and international issues and ways forward to promote common interests in East Asia. (DFA-ASEAN photo)

Undersecretary Lazaro also sought support for the Philippines’ inaugural chairship of the ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training Council until next year. 

The Meeting also discussed the progress on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the implementation of the Manila Plan of Action to Advance the Phnom Penh Declaration on the EAS Development Initiative (2018-2022), pursuit of peaceful dialogues in Myanmar, and practical cooperation in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, among others.

The EAS SOM Leaders extended their condolences to the Filipino people for the passing of President Benigno Aquino III. Undersecretary Lazaro thanked the EAS Participating Countries for their messages and noted that President Aquino was a leader who fought to prove that rule of law is the foundation of friendly and equitable relations between states.

The EAS is a forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political, and economic issues of common interest and concern and is composed of the 10 ASEAN Member States and the Plus Eight (+8) East Asia Participating Countries: Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States of America. END