Welcome Remarks of
HON. ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
at the Opening Ceremony of the
50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM)
5 August 2017, PICC, Manila
Excellencies, Foreign Ministers of the ASEAN Member States and their respective delegations,
Distinguished Guests of the Chair,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Colleagues in Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Brothers and Sisters,
Magandang magandangumaga, good morning to all of us,
First of all you have to excuse my voice, as my colleagues, we kept each other up until almost midnight last night.In the true ASEAN way we were able to passionately argue our national interest but at the same time put first our regional interest and come out as friends who have found solutions to very sensitive problems, so I thank my colleagues for the time we spent tonight and I thank Minister Retno for putting us together this way.
In a few days, we willcommemorate the50th anniversary of ASEAN at a time when the Philippines is once again holding the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN.
This rare opportunity of Chairing ASEAN and presiding over celebrations marking its golden jubilee calls for the entire Filipino nation to rejoice and bring out the best and finest from among us to honor the legacy of ourFounding Fathers, Founding Fathersof ASEAN and to continueenjoying the respect, trust and confidence of fellow ASEAN Member States and the rest of the world.
It is on thisnote that I take great pride and honor in welcomingyou all to the 50thASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings.
Looking back at Southeast Asia from fifty years ago, one cannot help but appreciate the vision, the wisdom, the courage, thehard work put forth by our founding fathers and those that came before us. How could these people think that during this time an organization like this can work and can become a very effective mechanism of partnership and cooperation, yet they pursued and that is why we are here today.
The geopolitical and economic landscape then was characterized by much distrust, mutual suspicion, skepticism and fear as theresult of the Cold War. The ideological rivalry between the East and the West was so intensedriving some countries in the region either go to one side or the other or seeking to be friends to both sides. Economies were mostly fragmented and struggling in other words our people were suffering. In thoseturbulent times, ASEAN came into being,leading many political pundits at that time to say that it was born to fail, and not to succeed.
Fifty years later, ASEANdelivered and continues to deliver on its promise of peace, stability, and economic development for its peoples. Today, ASEAN proudly soars as one of the world's successful regional blocs.
Some of the hallmarks of the ASEAN phenomenal successare as follows:
Just as ASEAN has developed internally to become the respected regional organization that it is today, so has it likewise successfully developed externally by establishing an intricate system of partnerships with various countries and organizations outside the region. The success of ASEAN in engaging the outside world rested on its open, inclusive, and outward-looking nature.
Thus today ASEAN has established Dialogue Partnerships with ten parties, namely: Australia, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand, The Republic of Korea, Russia, and TheUnited States of America, the European Union and India. ASEAN has3 sectoral partners in Norway, Switzerland, and Pakistan; one development partner in Germany; and a special relationship withthe United Nations that was converted into a comprehensive partnership in 2016.
Thru this system of partnership ASEAN was able to leverage on the strength of its partners to more effectively address issues of common concern across 3 pillars of cooperation namely: political, economic and socio-cultural.
While ASEAN has become deeply involved with its external partners, it has also maintained its centrality in the evolving regional architecture.
We now enjoy peace, security, and stability in the region largely due to ASEAN’s key role as a platform for constructive dialogue, consultation, and confidence-building among its members and external partners.
Today, as I join you in this august gathering, allow me to take inspiring words from the passages of scripture, particularly in the book of Hebrews, which in Chapter 10, verses 24 and 25 provides:
"24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
I believe regardless of our spiritual beliefs or religion the great religions teaches this, to love each other, to communicate, to fellowship with each other. Whether we be followers of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or other faiths. They speak of our nature to enjoin the good in each other and gravitate towards the achievement of a common good. More importantly, they speak of ASEAN values we have fostered through the years,the same values which allowed usin ASEAN to thrive and progress in peace and harmony with our neighbors, despite the fact that sometimes there are issues and complicated, sensitive matters between us yet we have found a way to live peacefully and give our region peace and stability.
As an organization, we have contributed norms and values to regional cooperation, the most well-known, and for which we are primarily attributed with, and sometimes criticized for, is the ‘ASEAN Way.’Theapproach is primarily based on the principles of dialogue, consensus,cooperation, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. And last night we had a taste of discussing the ASEAN Way and we come out of it better.Our commitment to these principles is the bedrock of our Community’s peace, stability, and shared prosperity.
As we chart the next fifty years, let us be guided by these values and principles and treat it as the legacy of our founding fathers to be bequeathed to our posterity.
And as we celebrate the last 50 years we also pay tribute to Singapore who will be leading us to the next 50 years, when we pass the Chairmanship next year.
In closing, let me quote from President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks delivered during the Official Launch of the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN on 15 January 2017 in Davao City:
“We are in this journey together.”Let me repeat this, “We are in this journey together.”
This is a golden opportunity for allof us, for all to work for an ASEAN that has taken its firm and secure place in the community of nations: An ASEAN that has its own significant role in effecting positive change for our world.
Let us work hand-in-hand to make this vision a reality enjoyed by all.”
Enjoyed not only by a few but enjoyed by all ASEANs and hopefully we’ll make it also viral and our regional unity will go to the other regions of the world.
The time is now.
In the next few days,let us seize theopportunity to transform the shared aspirations and values instituted by our founding fathers, no less their dreams and their visions into concrete actions and tangible outcomes that will propel our community for the brighter future our peoples truly deserve.
With that, and on behalf of my delegation, in behalf of the Filipino people, in behalf of President Duterte, in behalf of the hard-working National Organizing Council, andof course again in behalf of the Filipino people, I wish us all a memorable, productive, and successful meeting.
Brothers and Sisters let us continue to Partner for Change and to Engage and Change the World, Good morning and thank you for this opportunity.