It’s been 50 years since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations brought together countries of unparalleled diversity. Since then, it has worked tirelessly in promoting the well-being of around 629 million people who call Southeast Asia home and in celebrating the rich tapestry of Southeast Asian culture.
This year, the Philippines takes another turn at holding the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN since last taking that honor in 2007. The occasion is momentous as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. It is a great opportunity for the Philippines to lead efforts towards attaining the common vision of a peaceful and stable ASEAN region.
As one of the five founding fathers of ASEAN, the Philippines has taken an active role in transforming ASEAN into the successful and influential global player that it is today. Here are ten of the Philippines’ top milestones since the first day that it became part of ASEAN:
- The Philippines is one of the five founding members of ASEAN. Together with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, the Philippines signed the Bangkok Declaration on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, which formally established ASEAN.
- Ambassador Narciso G. Reyes was the first Filipino to serve as Secretary General of ASEAN on 1 July 1980.
- The Philippines led in the adoption of the Manila Declaration during the Philippines’ chairmanship of the 3rd ASEAN Summit in Metro Manila from 14-15 December 1987. The Manila Declaration aimed to foster closer political and economic cooperation among its ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners.
- Ambassador Rodolfo Severino, Jr. became the second Filipino to serve as the Secretary-General of ASEAN on 01 January 1998.
- The Philippines spearheaded the establishment of the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) on 27 September 2005 in the University of the Philippines Los Baños, Laguna during the 9th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Makati City. The ACB is the first regional initiative that aims to preserve the rich biodiversity of the ASEAN.
- The Philippines took the lead in the adoption of the landmark ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers during the 12th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Cebu City, Cebu from 09 to 15 January 2007. The ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers provides protection to documented migrant workers and their families in the region.
- At the same 12th ASEAN Summit, the Philippines led in the adoption of the Cebu Declaration on the Blueprint of the ASEAN Charter, the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015, and the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism.
- Eight of the 37 ASEAN Heritage Parks under the ASEAN Heritage Parks Programme can be found in the Philippines: Apo Natural Park, Mount Makiling Natural Reserve, Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, Mounts Iglit-Baco Natural Park, Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park, Mount Malindang Range Natural Park, Tubbataha Reef Natural Parks, and Timpoong and Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument.
- The Philippines shepherded discussions that led to the adoption of the ASEAN Convention against Trafficking in Persons (ACTIP) and its Accompanying Plan of Action in 2015. The Philippines ratified ACTIP on 6 February 2017, paving the way for the Convention to enter into force.
- The Philippines formally assumed the Chairmanship of ASEAN on 01 January 2017. It will be the host of the 30th and 31st ASEAN Summits on April 2017 and November 2017, respectively. The Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017 centers on the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.” The Philippine chairmanship coincides with the 50th Founding Anniversary of ASEAN.