Sunday, August 12, 2012

PH issues special Asean bills

The Bangko Sentral started to circulate on Saturday 10 million special edition 50-peso bills to promote greater awareness of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which celebrated its 45th anniversary last Aug. 8.

“In four decades after its founding, ASEAN has made remarkable progress as a regional body. It has emerged as a driving force in promoting dialogue and cooperation in regional stability and security, economic prosperity and socio-cultural amity,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said at a Friday reception similar to those held in other ASEAN capitals since Wednesday.

Del Rosario distributed souvenir copies of the special edition currency to the ambassadors and representatives of ASEAN nations in the country and said the reception kicked off different activities throughout the country to mark the regional block’s anniversary.

The activities included exhibits on “Water Festivities of Southeast Asia” and “ASEAN Heritage Parks,” the celebration of “ASEAN Week” in schools and universities in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education and the ASEAN University Network, seminars by universities and partner organizations, and a film showing by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in October.

But while representatives of ASEAN nations celebrated regional unity at the foreign office, the event also underlined the challenges facing the regional block over the West Philippine Sea.

Cambodia, for example, was represented by Second Secretary Tan Cahndaravuth because former envoy Hos Sereythonh was recalled by Phnom Penh after he accused the Philippines of “playing dirty politics” during the Foreign Ministerial Meeting recently held in Phnom Penh.

The ambassador apparently made the remark after international criticism, particularly from ASEAN nations, that the ministerial meeting, which was chaired by Cambodia, failed to issue a joint communique for the first time in its history.

The impasse was only solved after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa embarked on a 36-hour “shuttle diplomacy” to Manila, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Singapore and forge a consensus on the ongoing wrangling over the West Philippine Sea.

But Del Rosario hoped that “despite the myriad challenges that have confronted the group through the years, ASEAN will maintain its central role in advancing its members interests, particularly in achieving its cherished ideals of peace, freedom and social justice.”

The ASEAN was established on Aug. 8, 1967 after the foreign ministers of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand signed the Bangkok Declaration in Thailand.

The five foreign ministers – Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore and Thanat Khoman of Thailand – are considered the organization’s Founding Fathers.

Brunei Darussalam joined the bloc in 1984, followed by Vietnam (1995) Laos and Myanmar (1997) and finally by Cambodia (1999).-Manila Standard Today (August 12, 2012)

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