President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. expressed his concerns over the ageing population in the Southeast Asian region, the first time a regional leader brought out the issue before the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
President Marcos made mention of the region’s ageing population during the 42nd ASEAN Summit Plenary Session on Wednesday, stressing it must be addressed.
“Decades of sustained economic growth and prosperity has resulted in longer lifespans in ASEAN. According to the Asian Development Bank, one out of four people in the Asia Pacific will be over the age of 60 by the year 2050.”
“I think therefore it is time that ASEAN should start discussing the concerns of an ageing population, consistent with the ASEAN tradition of valuing our elders,” he said.
President Marcos also said these issues must viewed as an opportunity and as a challenge,
“especially in terms of adequate social benefits on the one hand and social empowerment on the other. ASEAN goals and work plans should ensure health for our elders, a safe and dignified, and productive life.”
The President also brought up the need for the regional grouping to transition to renewable and alternative energy technologies, stressing the Philippines is doing its part in that regard.
The President also called for unity among ASEAN members as he urged developed countries to fulfill their longstanding commitments to the Paris Agreement.
“Although developing countries such as the Philippines only account for less than one percent of global emissions, our countries bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of climate change,”
He said the Philippines will take bold steps to transition to renewable and alternative energy technologies in a secure and sustainable manner. The country is rich in critical metals like aluminum, nickel and chromite, which are energy efficient to produce.
President Marcos, said,
“Recognizing that a cleaner energy future is anchored on the supply of critical minerals, ASEAN should now start enhancing regional cooperation towards boosting the region’s strategic industrial metals and minerals value chain.”
“Developed countries have a moral obligation to support adaptation and mitigation efforts of the most vulnerable countries through technology transfer, capacity building, and climate financing, this to address loss and damage, and to achieve necessary breakthroughs for climate action at a global scale.”
Marcos further stated that the Philippines recognizes biodiversity can complement and synergize with ASEAN’s initiatives in climate change, contributing to our efforts towards a more sustainable and resilient future.
“The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is an intergenerational responsibility that the Philippines is proud to support through the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity.”
International law and free trade
Marcos also called on the ASEAN to focus on upholding international law and the international rules-based system and committing to the principles of free trade and to the multilateral trading system.
*Upholding international law* and the rules-based system has underpinned the peace, security, stability, and prosperity of the region, Marcos said, as he welcomed Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship priority of strengthening regional cooperation to address cross-border crimes, particularly Trafficking in Persons.
In terms of trade and commerce, the President announced the Philippines has deposited its Instrument of Ratification for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.
President Marcos told the plenary:
“We are optimistic that RCEP will serve as an engine of growth that will help build more resilient supply chains and support the integration of our micro, medium, and small-scale establishments into the global economy,”
“ASEAN must strengthen cross-border connectivity and the interoperability of digital frameworks. We must forge a vibrant digital economy and ensure that our people are equipped with the digital skills of the future so that no one is left behind in the midst of our world’s digital transformation.”
ASEAN members must ensure that food and energy systems are resilient in the face of the supply and price fluctuations triggered by geopolitical instability and conflict, pandemics, climate change, logistics chain disruptions, and fuel shortages.
The Philippines, Marcos said, aims to strengthen food security and production efficiency via the use of new agricultural technologies, upgrading Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and adopting climate- and disaster-resilient technologies.
Also during his intervention, President Marcos rallied for a whole-of-community support to Timor-Leste for its journey towards full ASEAN membership.
The Philippine leader said Timor-Leste would strengthen the ASEAN Community as it expands the reach of the regional bloc’s united front to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Sources: THX News & Presidential Communications Office.