The Philippine government will be spending P7 million for President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s overnight trip to Brunei, where the 22nd high-level meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be held.
Last year, the government allocated P11 million for Aquino’s attendance at the 21st Asean Summit in November 2012.
In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said that this year’s Asean budget covers the lease for the plane, accommodation, transportation, food and equipment for the Philippine delegation.
Mr. Aquino left on Wednesday afternoon for Bandar Seri Begawan on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight with a 51-member delegation.
His group includes Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Cabinet Secretary to the President Rene Almendras, Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and Presidential Protocol Chief Celia Anna Feria.
In his departure speech, the President said he was confident that with this year’s Asean chair, the Philippines will be able to push for the creation of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea at the summit.
“Wala tayong ibang hangad kundi ang magtaguyod ng kaayusan at kapayapaan, kaya naman itutulak nating isabuhay ng lahat ang mga prinsipyong nakapaloob sa Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea o DOC ,” [We all want peace and order in the region, that is why we will do our best to uphold all of the principles within the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea] he said.
“Sa liderato ng kasalukuyang Asean Chairman, si Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah ng Brunei, buo ang kumpiyansa nating mas makakausad nang patas ang paksang ito [With the current Asean chair, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, we are confident that this issue],” he added
Mr. Aquino said that he would also urge the Asean-member countries come up with a legally binding code of conduct as soon as possible.
“Hihikayatin din natin ang ibang pinuno sa pagpapanday ng isang Code of Conduct sa lalong madaling panahon, na kikilalanin at susundin ng lahat,” [We are also urging the leaders of the other nations to take part in the drafting of a Code of Conduct as soon as possible, one that will be recognized by all] he added
In a press briefing, Lacierda said that the President is expected to arrive in Brunei Darussalam at 6:05 pm.
At 8 pm., Lacierda siad, Mr. Aquino will attend the 22nd Asean Summit dinner with other heads of state at the office of Brunei Prime Minister Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The leaders will hold a meeting at 8:45 pm. After an hour, the President will attend a coffee meeting with the Philippine media at the Philippine embassy.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Raul Hernandez earlier said that the Asean has already agreed on elements to be included in the COC and only China’s approval is needed to formalize the agreement.
The DFA cited that the 22nd Asean Summit’s theme “Our People, Our Future Together” emphasizes the importance of Asean citizens in realizing the vision of an Asean Community by 2015.