Mr. Chairman,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

The annual Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) is the centerpiece of ASEAN’s collaborative framework with its Dialogue Partners. Over the years the PMC has been instrumental in contributing to the substantive exchange of views and the formulation of common positions and actions on various issues of common concern.

Accelerating Regional Integration

With the fulfillment of our founding fathers’ vision of an ASEAN-10, development cooperation has become increasingly important. More than ever, assistance from Dialogue Partners and greater mobilization of resources are needed to accelerate the integration of the new ASEAN member countries.

Also, ASEAN functional cooperation with Dialogue Partners should continue to enhance knowledge of each party’s cultural background, political philosophies and structures, and ethnic diversity. The strategies for a new partnership should encourage more intensive collaboration at all levels, increase mutual understanding through people-to-people contacts, build stronger institutional links, and foster greater understanding, goodwill and mutual trust.

ASEAN dialogue relations continue to be significantly shaped by domestic, regional and global factors. Indeed, where the nature of dialogue relations was chiefly characterized by a donor-recipient relationship, a new trend has emerged where certain dialogue partners are seeking ASEAN’s technical expertise in particular sectors to develop their economies and participate in development cooperation projects. Thus, a two-way process in the dialogue partnership is gradually being cultivated.

Sustaining the Recovery Process

While the tangible benefits of economic growth in ASEAN continue to gain ground, the recovery process in some crisis-affected countries has yet to reach the broader segment of society. It is important that economic and financial reforms continue to be undertaken to ensure that economic recovery is comprehensive and beneficial to all. On our part, we signed this year the General Banking Act, Retail Trade and e-Commerce laws. The General Banking Act enhances the supervision capability and enforcement power of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and opens up the banking sector to more foreign participants. The Retail Trade Law allows foreign retailers to do business in the country, while the e-Commerce Law recognizes the legal validity of electronic messages and digital signatures.

The Philippines also recognizes the implications of a new round of negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). As a first step, the WTO should work to restore the confidence of developing countries in the promised benefits of globalization and trade liberalization. We must ensure that the agenda of the next round of negotiations will be well balanced to reflect the interests of all WTO members.

Furthering POlitical Cooperation

In the political-security sphere, the drafting of a Regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is gaining momentum. If you will recall, at the 6th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, the Philippines proposed this Code to further develop confidence building in the area. In May this year, a consolidated text was agreed between ASEAN and China, which would serve as the basis for further consultations and negotiations.

ASEAN will likewise continue to consult with the five nuclear weapon states (NWS) in order to resolve the differences that have prevented them ftom acceding to the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANFWZ) Treaty. It is crucial that respect for the nuclear weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia is recognized and maintained by countries in the region.

Since the relevant actors that contribute to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region are also ASEAN’s dialogue partners, we should strive to deepen our relations and intensify our cooperation at various fora.

Cooperation In Transnational Issues

It is quite unfortunate that the factors that led to the growing interdependence and shared prosperity of states, including globalization, major advances in communication and transportation technologies, and the porosity of national borders, have contributed to the rise of transboundary concerns. Thew concerns include the environment, labor migration, infectious diseases and transnational crime.

There is a growing recognition that a range of transnational issues, especially those relating to criminal activities across boundaries, such as trafficking in women and children, narcotics abuse and money laundering, can affect the security of states and undoubtedly present a formidable challenge to the region. By their very nature, transtiational crimes can only be countered effectively with increased cooperation and closer collaboration among our law enforcement authorities.

Criminal organization have been quick to adapt their structures and activities to new opportunities in the global economy. In some cases, transnational criminal organizations have become major players in international economic activities and in the control of illegal industries. These groups are highly organized and use increasingly sophisticated techniques to pursue and conceal their activities.

ASEAN is fully committed to working with our Dialogue Partners and the rest of the international Community in pursuing relevant and timely international efforts to combat the various forms of transnational crime.

The Philippines, therefore, welcomes and strongly supports the expeditious conclusion of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its Related Protocols. Much work, however, is needed in finalizing the three Protocols on firearms, trafficking in persons especially in women and children, and smuggling of migrants. The Philippines would like to encourage our Dialogue Partners to contribute to consensus-building on the various issues to facilitate the process of negotiation.

We believe that such Convention should focus on offences that are truly transnational in nature and “Involve an organized criminal group.” We also support the use of anti-money laundering measures to seize and confiscate all the proceeds illegally obtained by organized criminal groups tbrough offences covered under the Convention. Given our interest in this Convention, the international community can count on ASEAN’s active participation in the remaining sessions of the Ad-Hoc Committee an the Elaboration of the Convention.

In all these areas of mutual concern, we look forward to solidifying our partnership for the benefit of our countries and peoples.