|US PRESIDENT Barack Obama addresses American and Philippine troops at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio in Makati during his first visit to the Philippines in April 2014. Prior to this speech, he witnessed the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement of US and Manila. Mr. Obama will be back in Manila for the APEC summit next month.
By CLAIRE MORALES TRUE and JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
WASHINGTON (PHILAMPRESS/JGLI) – US President Barack Obama will travel to the Philippines, Turkey, and Malaysia from Nov. 14 to 22 to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit and other summits in those countries.
Other leaders in the 21-nation APEC are expected to join Obama in the APEC leaders’ summit in Manila on Nov. 18-19 to be hosted by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.
This will be the second trip of Mr. Obama to the Philippines. In April last year, Mr. Obama paid a two-day state visit to the Philippines and witnessed the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in ceremonies in Malacanang. The EDCA legality has since been challenged before the Philippine Supreme Court.
A White House announcement stated that President Obama will participate also in the G20 summit in Turkey where leaders from the world’s major economies are due to give final approval to a new 15-point plan to crack down on tax evasion by multinational corporations that costs countries at least $100 billion a year.
The 15-point plan aims to tackle low tax bills for the likes of Google, Apple and McDonald’s, which have managed to sharply reduce their taxes while remaining within the law, provoking public outrage in recent years.
In Malaysia, Obama will attend the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and the East Asia summit, it added.
The President’s visits to the Philippines and Malaysia underscore America’s support for Asia’s regional institutions, which enhance security and prosperity, while also advancing the U.S. strategy to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region in all of its dimensions, including political, economic, security, and people-to-people engagement, according to the White House.
These visits also will support the President’s efforts to expand opportunities for American businesses and workers to sell their products in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. Throughout the trip, he will emphasize the importance of reaching an ambitious and durable global climate change agreement in Paris.
APEC consists of 21 member-economies including developed and developing countries namely: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, United States, Chinese Taipei, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia, and Vietnam.
This developed as President Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, after a meeting in the White House, highlighted the importance of the maritime area to their respective countries, surrounding region, and the world.
The two Presidents also expressed their shared concern about recent developments in the South China Sea that have increased tensions, eroded trust, and threatened to undermine peace, security, and the economic well-being of the region.
Both leaders stressed that their countries believe it is vital for all parties to refrain from actions that raise tensions in the South China Sea. Both Presidents affirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and upholding internationally recognized freedoms of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.
This as US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen is nearing the 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea to monitor and do patrols in the area.
The ship would likely be accompanied by a US Navy P-8A surveillance plane and possibly P-3 surveillance plane, which have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the region, according to the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to Obama and Widodo, their countries support the peaceful resolution of disputes in conformity with international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 (UNCLOS), and recognize the importance of full and effective implementation of the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China, as well as efforts to quickly conclude the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
In a joint statement, the two Presidents pledged to deepen their cooperation on maritime affairs, as described in their new “Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation,” which covers maritime security, maritime economy, marine resources and fisheries conservation and management, maritime safety and navigation, marine science and technology and other areas of cooperation identified by both countries.
Both Presidents underlined the importance of improving maritime infrastructure to enhance connectivity and enable freer flow of commerce in the region and between the two countries. They committed to continue working together to promote cooperation and investment in infrastructure.
The two Presidents also affirmed the urgent needs to combat, prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.
The two Presidents affirmed their commitment to further strengthen their bilateral defense cooperation, and welcomed the growth in bilateral military engagements, which now stand at more than 200 activities annually.
The Presidents welcomed the Joint Statement on Comprehensive Defense Cooperation of October 26, 2015, between the Indonesian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense. The two Presidents underscored their commitment to deepen collaboration on areas such as: maritime cooperation, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, defense joint research and development, countering transnational threats, and military professionalization.
Both Presidents welcomed the Indonesian Government’s maritime vision to become a global maritime fulcrum, as well as Indonesia’s leadership in regional and global fora, and the United States’ Rebalance policy to the Asia Pacific aimed at promoting peace, prosperity, stability and security in the Asia-Pacific Region. (PHLTODAYUSA/JGLI)