13 MAY 2022
WASHINGTON D.C. – The Philippines called for regional cooperation on maritime security, the climate crisis, and post-pandemic economic recovery during the second day of the ASEAN-US Special Summit.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. joined eight other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss mutual priorities in the region on maritime security, pandemics, climate action, clean energy transformation, and sustainable infrastructure, as well as on ways to address global issues and emerging challenges.
The second day of the Summit featured a working lunch hosted by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, and plenary sessions chaired by both President Joseph Biden. Jr. and VP Harris.
Secretary Locsin led the Philippine delegation to the Special Summit, as the representative of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who skipped the Summit as a courtesy to the Philippine President-elect. He was joined by Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro, Assistant Secretary Daniel Espiritu, and Assistant Secretary Angela Ponce, as well as officials from the Office of the President and the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.
In his intervention, Secretary Locsin highlighted America’s role for peace and stability in Southeast Asia.
“President Biden, your participation gives substance to the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment of being a strong, reliable and dependably present partner in the region; and of America as a force for good and stability in Asia and the rest of the world. That is why the Philippines fully supports the elevation of ASEAN-U.S. relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” he said.
He also welcomed the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy as it places Southeast Asia at the center of the regional security architecture and recognizes synergies with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. “We look forward to the political launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). For that to work, inclusiveness in participation is essential,” he added. The Philippines is among a number of ASEAN countries participating in the launch of IPEF.
Secretary Locsin stressed that integral to the response to the climate crisis is the transition to clean energy and that the Philippines expects the ASEAN-US Energy Ministerial Meeting to advance initiatives on clean and alternative energy sources, including new and emerging clean fuels, and on energy innovation and more efficient energy technologies.
“We are particularly interested in safe, clean, and affordable nuclear power options such as small nuclear modular reactors, which are capable of being built and transported to far-flung energy starved areas,” he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis showed the need for the ASEAN region to strengthen its infrastructure, connectivity, and supply chains. The Philippines welcomes the progress made on the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, but recognizes that more needs to be done.
“The infrastructural components need more focus on infrastructure compliant with environmental and climate standards, and are also commercially viable,” Secretary Locsin said.
In his closing statement, Secretary Locsin underscored that we need to recover from the pandemic even as we are being hit by the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, especially in energy supply. “We have yet to develop domestic energy sources in safe, clean ways. But we need American assurance of being left in peace to find and develop our energy sources without threats from a bullying neighbor that sets conditions no sovereign country can submit to,” he said.
Discussions of the Plenary Session on climate action, clean energy and sustainable infrastructure was led by Vice President Kamala Harris, and was joined by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Energy Jenifer Granholm, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan. ###