Philippines President extends thanks to Sultan following Asean Summit
Tony Alabastro

PHILIPPINE President Benigno S Aquino III said on Thursday, “We thank the Asean Chairman His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei and other leaders in the region for agreeing with our call for a stricter implementation of the principles on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea”.

Speaking in Tagalog upon his arrival from Bandar Seri Begawan, he added, “We also pursued the formation of a Code of Conduct that will be recognised and obeyed by members as the foundation of stability and progress in Southeast Asia.”

Aquino returned to Manila after a two-day Asean Summit meeting in Brunei, where “Southeast Asian leaders supported the Philippines’ call for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea)”, the president said in his arrival statement.

Aquino also pushed for their immediate crafting of a legally binding Code of Conduct among parties with overlapping claims in the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil, gas and marine resources.

Aquino and leaders from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) reiterated their shared vision of setting up BIMP-EAGA as a regional food basket and eco tourism destination through enhanced connectivity for trade and investment during the 9th BIMP-EAGA Summit, while on the sidelines of the 22nd Asean Summit.

While waiting for the president’s arrival in Bandar Seri Begawan, Philippine media from the Malacanang Press Corps interviewed Filipino pioneers who have helped in the progress and development of their “second home”.

Veteran Media Relations Officer Elvira de los Santos shepherded a Manila radio-television print media team to a restaurant overlooking the stilt houses on the centuries-old Kampong Ayer, along the Brunei River, where water taxis zoomed on the horizon, to interview long-serving Filipino pioneers who helped in Brunei’s progress and development.

May Abrera, a nurse in Temburong, who came to Brunei 26 years ago, spoke of how she took a 40-minute boat ride from Bangar Town to reach the jetty near where the interview took place.

Vangie Mariano, who came to Brunei as an assistant country manager of Brunei’s first fastfood chain from the Philippines and Jojo Hernandez, a former Aristocrat waiter, shared how they helped set up local and overseas branches of Brunei’s first Italian restaurant, from Bandar Seri Begawan to Miri, Sarawak, and Labuan, Malaysia.

The Manila media team later took a city tour that covered Kampong Ayer, the Royal Regalia and the Jame’ ‘Asr Hassanil Bolkiah, which other Filipino pioneer overseas workers helped construct; and filed their stories and television footages, which were read and seen in the Philippines on Wednesday night onwards. - Borneo Bulletin (27 April 2013)