Phl to vouch for Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership

(Photo from Bongbong Marcos / Facebook)

INDONESIA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday gave assurance to Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak that the Philippines will support his country in its efforts to become a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Marcos gave this assurance during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Ruak in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia on the sidelines of the 42nd ASEAN Summit.

The President expressed elation over Timor-Leste’s journey toward becoming a democratic state and eventually becoming an ASEAN member state.

“I’m very happy that to see—the fruition of what we have been discussing in ASEAN as the membership of Timor-Leste,” Marcos said.

“I came then happy to see that there has been progress, and they will now have the observer status and are beginning to participate in the discussions with what we have. As you can see there… the strength of Asia really is the commonality,” the President added.

Marcos further said that his country has always been supportive of Timor-Leste since the Southeast Asian country, which holds an observer status in the regional bloc, has always been a partner of the Philippines.

“It has always been our view that the membership of Timor-Leste in ASEAN could only strengthen ASEAN and I’m very happy that the process has continued and you are now here to join us as an observer with the ultimate end of becoming a full-fledged member of ASEAN,” he said.

President Marcos added he expects the continuing intra-ASEAN discussions and coordination as well as bilateral connections to grow stronger.

Marcos said it is an important part of the growing and emerging democracy of Timor-Leste sharing a common principle with the Philippines. “And those are the things that we fight for and these are the values and the principles that we continue to espouse; and therefore, we will find in that a very large common ground for us to work together.”

For his part, Prime Minister Ruak thanked President Marcos for receiving him during the bilateral meeting as well as for the Philippines’ continued support to his country for its ASEAN membership.

“(The) Philippines is a great friend of Timor-Leste. We have a big community of Philippines (sic) in our country, but we have also a big community of Timorese in (the) Philippines. We have the missionaries, we have the teachers. So, it’s not just diplomatic relations; it’s emotion,” Prime Minister Ruak said through a translator.

“Additionally, we have had the support of (the) Philippines since the very first moments of our independence,” he said.

Ruak said Timor Leste has been working hard to comply with all the criteria and conditions for its ASEAN membership, knowing it has strong backing and support among ASEAN members.

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