President Benigno Aquino 3rd will highlight the country’s position on various global issues such as climate change, disaster risk management and dangers posed by the Ebola virus at the commemorative summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) that opened on Thursday in Busan, South Korea.
The President flew to Busan with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras, Press Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Presidential Management Staff chief Julia Andrea Abad and Presidential Protocol chief Celia Anna Feria.
He will be back in Manila on Friday.
In a speech just before he left for Busan, Aquino said his trip is also meant to further strengthen Philippine cooperation with South Korea.
“The Philippines and South Korea have had a strong relationship for a while now. This is a relationship forged by a rich shared history of pursuing democracy, freedom and prosperity,” according to the President.
He said South Korea has been an ally of the Philippines in economic development, national security, tourism and people-to-people exchanges.
Proof of this partnership is the million South Korean tourists who visited the country in 2013, Aquino pointed out.
There is also the operation of the South Korean shipbuilder Hanjin in the Subic Freeport, which the President said has helped make the Philippines the 4th largest shipbuilding nation in the world.
Aquino added that South Korea was also there to help the Philippines in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda
“President Aquino’s attendance in the 25th Asean-ROK [Republic of Korea] Commemorative Summit is an occasion to fortify our country’s relationship with South Korea in various areas of cooperation such as trade and investment, development, labor and migration, tourism, among others,” Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. said in a statement.
Ochoa added that the government has allocated P11.2 million for Aquino’s trip that covers expenses for transportation, accommodation, food, equipment and other requirements of the President and his 48-member delegation.
A side from attending the summit, Aquino will have a bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
He initially canceled his trip to monitor rehabilitation efforts but decided to push through with it after Typhoon Ruby was downgraded into a tropical depression on Monday.
Other sideline events lined up for Aquino include an exhibition on Korean traditional arts and crafts, a special exhibition on public governance and a meet-and-greet with the CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries and Korean officials.
The President and nine other leaders will deliver their statements building on this year’s theme “Building Trust, Bringing Happiness.”
The theme reflects South Korea’s commitment to strengthen its relationship with Asean through trust, which should result in happiness for the citizens of Asean and South Korea.