Mr. President, distinguished colleagues:
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I have the honor to sponsor the concurrence by this august chamber with the ratification of the Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or in short, the Asean Charter. Your committee earnestly recommends concurrence within this year.
On 20 November 2007, after over four decades of existence, Asean finally drafted its Charter inSingapore. On that auspicious day, ten heads of state of Asean signed the draft of the Asean Charter. Now, it needs the ratification of all ten member states this year so that, hopefully, it could enter into force next year and be registered with the Secretariat of the United Nations.
As of 18 April 2008, seven Asean member states have already ratified it. These are: Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Thailand, having complied with legal procedures, is expected to submit its instrument of ratification soon, making eight out of ten Asean states. As an ardent proponent of the Charter, the Philippines should follow suit. If it enters into force next year, Asean would beat the European Union, which failed in 2006 to ratify its Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, due to its rejection by France and the Netherlands a year earlier.
With your indulgence, I shall briefly discuss the rationale for, and the procedures involved in, the drafting of the Asean Charter, its basic features, the Philippine contributions to the framing of the Charter, and the benefits that can be derived by the Philippines from the Charter’s entry into force.