Legarda: ASEAN plays key role in promoting region's interest

By Leonel Abasola

June 6, 2023, 5:12 pm

MANILA – Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Centrality will play a key role in promoting the welfare of the regional block as she urged the leaders of the 10-member nations to continue to contribute in shaping the region's interests.

Speaking before the Special Session on Balancing Asia-Pacific Minilateralism and ASEAN Centrality at the 20th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore last June 3, the veteran lawmaker said the association should recognize minilateral groups and arrangements for its potential in creating a conducive environment that is beneficial among ASEAN member state and its partners.

ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“These minilateral arrangements can also be seen as a welcome opportunity to initiate discussion among like-minded entities on various economic, social, security, and defense issues. Minilateral cooperation can thus be seen as an arrangement that can complement and supplement ASEAN regional initiatives” Legarda said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 20th ISS Shangrila-La Dialogue, the foremost security forum in Asia where Legarda served as panel speaker, gathered senior representatives of defense, military and national security establishments to discuss important and timely security issues in the region.

Legarda said that despite minilateral arrangements involving major powers, this would not diminish the importance of ASEAN’s role in the region, adding such arrangements will need to include the regional block in its discussion to ensure overall regional security, peace and stability.

She said ASEAN possesses the mechanisms and institutions that can enhance the discussions, build on solutions, and strengthen partnerships in various issues concerning the region.

“It is imperative that ASEAN recognizes the need for change where required and takes appropriate actions to address these concerns” she added.

The lady solon said it is vital for ASEAN to listen attentively to constructive feedback and work towards necessary amendments.

ASEAN, being the central multilateral institution, she said, has advantages and should always be actively involved in the discussions that promote the collective welfare of the region.

“I strongly uphold that the involvement of ASEAN and the utilization of its institutions will allow multilaterals to achieve peace and security in the region that would benefit everyone” Legarda said. (PNA)