Heads of PH Missions to ASEAN Member Countries and PH Permanent Representative to ASEAN Meet for Consultations in Bangkok



 Philippine Ambassadors to ASEAN Countries, with Mr Wilfrido Villacorta (Permanent Representative to ASEAN) (2nd, L) and DTI Assistant Secretary Ramon Kabigting (1st, R), pose for a souvenir photo on 19 April during their follow-up meeting to the Regional Consultation Meeting held in Manila in March 2012. In the photo are from left: Mr J Eduardo Malaya (Ambassador to Malaysia), Ms Ma Hellen Barber de la Vega (Ambassador to Myanmar), Mr Nestor Ochoa (Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam), Ms Linglingay Lacanlale (Ambassador to Thailand), Ms Maria Rosario Aguinaldo (Ambassador to Indonesia), Ms Minda Cruz (Ambassador to Singapore), Ms Maria Lumen Isleta (Ambassador to Laos), and Mr Jerill Santos (Ambassador to Vietnam).

The Philippine Ambassadors to ASEAN Countries and the Philippine Permanent Representative to ASEAN met in Bangkok on 19-20 April and vowed to enhance their economic diplomacy efforts and take advantage of the benefits from the implementation of the ASEAN Community 2015 and synergies offered by the ASEAN Economic Community.

At the meeting, the Ambassadors also agreed to establish a forum for regular consultations on developments in the region that affect Philippine interests, policy recommendations and implementation of common projects and activities by the Posts. The forum is named the Council of Philippine Embassies and Mission in ASEAN Countries (COPEMAC). The Philippine Embassy in Bangkok served as host of the first COPEMAC meeting and will be the coordinator of activities for 2012. It was agreed that each ASEAN Post will take turns as host coordinator and secretariat for one year in alphabetical order. The Philippine Embassy in Hanoi will serve as the COPEMAC host and coordinator in 2013.

The Ambassadors committed to undertake flagship projects as part of its economic diplomacy efforts with the assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Agriculture and relevant agencies. These include organizing the first ASEAN Heads of Posts tourism and investment familiarization tour to the Philippines, and a DTI-led swing of ASEAN countries on Doing Business in the Philippines within the context of regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements that the Philippines is a party to.  The Ambassadors also agreed to establish/revitalize Philippines-host country business councils; and develop a uniform information package with well-thought out messages on how the country would like to project itself in the region and globally. It will be used by Posts for public awareness activities. This is especially timely as the Philippines prepare for the ASEAN Community 2015 and the Philippine Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017.

Other projects that will be implemented include: engaging the Philippine business communities in respective host countries to promote Philippine products; enhancing roadshows/promotion of Philippine tourism, products and services, including counter-trade activities, where applicable, and expansion of the presence of Philippine companies/franchises in ASEAN.

COPEMAC’s commitment to pursue enhanced economic diplomacy and undertake the identified initiatives is in line with the policy directives of President Benigno Aquino III and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

As part of its public diplomacy efforts, COPEMAC will identify influential think tanks and other institutions in their respective jurisdictions and conduct joint projects, symposia, conferences and policy dialogue with the objective of generating awareness and support for Philippine interests and concerns.

Among other activities of COPEMAC are: an ASEAN-wide briefing by Bureau of Immigration resource persons on immigration policies particularly on the observed rise in offloading of departing passengers at Philippine ports of exit as well as its efforts to curb human trafficking.

Philippine Heads of Posts and Mission present during the meeting were: Mr Nestor Ochoa (Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam), Ms Maria Rosario Aguinaldo (Ambassador to Indonesia), Ms Maria Lumen Isleta, Mr J Eduardo Malaya (Ambassador to Malaysia), Mr Wilfrido Villacorta (Permanent Representative to ASEAN), Ms Ma Hellen Barber de la Vega (Ambassador to Myanmar), Ms Minda Cruz (Ambassador to Singapore), Ms Linglingay Lacanlale (Ambassador to Thailand), Mr Jerill Santos (Ambassador to Hanoi), and Mr Wilfrido Villacorta (Permanent Representative to ASEAN).

Also present were Trade and Industry Officials Assistant Secretary Ramon Kabigting and Trade Service Attaché Mr Eric Elnar and Special Agricultural Representative Ms Ana Abejuela. End