DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo, upon the invitation of the Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS-YII), delivered a lecture on the Philippines’ 2017 chairmanship of ASEAN on Wednesday, 23 November 2016.
The event was co-organized by the ASEAN Studies Centre of ISEAS-YII and the Philippine Embassy in Singapore under the institute’s ASEAN lecture series. The Philippines is the second incoming ASEAN chair that has been invited to the lecture series following Lao PDR in December of last year.
Officials and representatives of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore led by Ambassador Antonio A. Morales, diplomatic missions in Singapore, government agencies, international organizations, media groups, academic institutions, think tanks and the business sector attended the full-house lecture. The chairmanship of the Philippines has an added significance because it coincides with ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary.
During the lecture, Undersecretary Manalo provided an overview on ASEAN to set the context of the Philippine chairmanship, which President Rodrigo R. Duterte formally accepted on 8 September 2016 at the conclusion of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Vientiane, Lao PDR. He said that that the Philippines considers its chairmanship important since the country has a big stake in the regional aggrupation being one of its founding members and given recent developments in and around the region and beyond.
According to Undersecretary Manalo, championing positive change in the community to produce a unified voice in the world is the core message of the Philippine chairmanship, which has six (6) thematic priorities, namely: A people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN; Peace and stability in the region; Maritime security and cooperation; Inclusive, innovation-led growth; A resilient ASEAN; and ASEAN: A model of regionalism, a global player. The DFA Undersecretary also provided a preview of the meetings that will be convened, logistical arrangements as well as activities to commemorate ASEAN’s golden jubilee.
As expected, the lecture generated much interest and elicited questions from the audience regarding, among others, the ASEAN way of consensus decision-making process, public awareness on ASEAN, ASEAN’s policy to the US with the election of Donald Trump and prospects of the proposed Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. Mr. Tang Siew Mun, Head of the ASEAN Studies Centre, facilitated the open forum.
After the lecture, Undersecretary Manalo had a one-on-one interview with Mr. Albert Wai of TODAY, the largest circulated daily in Singapore. This was followed by a working lunch hosted by his counterpart, the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) Leader of Singapore, Permanent Secretary of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong.
Undersecretary Manalo came to Singapore for the lecture on a full schedule coming off from an official mission to Colombo for the first-ever bilateral consultations between the Philippines and Sri Lanka on 21 November 2016. Immediately after his arrival on 22 November 2016, Undersecretary Manalo had consultations with Ambassador Antonio A. Morales and other officials of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore. Ambassador Morales hosted him to dinner at the Tanglin Club in the evening.
Undersecretary Manalo also attended the annual ASEAN Gala Night held at the Shangri-La Hotel on 23 November 2016 as one of the VIP invitees to the event. At the gala night, he had an opportunity to meet the personnel of the Philippine Embassy as well as leaders of the Filipino community and representatives of the Philippine business sector in Singapore. Minister Dinno Oblena, Director of the Summitries and ASEAN Coordinating Council Division, DFA Office of ASEAN Affairs, accompanied the Undersecretary in his trip to Singapore.