November 18, 2007 (Inquirer) – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to follow up in Singapore environmental issues concerning Southeast Asia, including the need for renewable sources of energy and the conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems.
At a briefing Saturday on the series of summits of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations scheduled here on Nov. 19-22, Filipino journalists were told that Ms Arroyo’s first meeting was expected to cover environmental issues.
She meets with the heads of state of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia for the BIMP-East Asia Growth Area summit on Monday.
“This concerns the areas of Palawan in the Philippines, Sulawesi in Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia and Brunei,” said Assistant Foreign Secretary Luis Cruz.
“This is the so-called coral triangle. This is an area very rich in biodiversity,” Cruz said.
Ms Arroyo is scheduled to arrive late this afternoon to take part in and sign a number of agreements, including the Asean charter and a declaration on environmental sustainability.
Singapore, as chair of the 41st Asean Standing Committee, is hosting the series of meetings, which include the 11th Asean Plus Three Summit with China, Korea and Japan, 11th Asean-China Summit, 11th Asean-Japan Summit, 11th Asean-Korea Summit, 6th Asean-India Summit and 3rd East Asia Summit.
The key themes of the discussions at the 13th Asean Summit and related meetings are energy, the environment, climate change and sustainable development.
Ms Arroyo, as chair of the past summit held in Cebu City, is expected to follow up on issues on the use of alternative fuels.
She is also expected to conduct bilateral talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark on Nov. 21.
New Zealand is one of the dialogue partners of the 3rd East Asia Summit scheduled on Wednesday.
One meeting that may be of special interest to Filipinos is the one among economic ministers, where two mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) that will allow the member-countries’ respective architects and surveyors to practice in other member-states are expected to be signed.
“We are building a borderless community [where there] is a free flow of goods and, in this case, a free flow of services,” said Cruz, who is also the executive director of the DFA Office on Asean affairs.
“One of the expected developments [this] week is the signing of the [MRAs] covering architects and surveyors,” he said. “Many Filipinos will benefit from these MRAs.”
Under the agreements, architects and surveyors from Asean member-states no longer need to take licensure examinations in other states for them to practice their profession.