Rules-based order needed for Indo-Pacific stability — Manalo

A rules-based order is "fundamental" to ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific region, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo said Thursday, March 25.

In his remark during his meeting with diplomatic reporters in Manila, Manalo said it is "imperative to acknowledge and uphold" an order that is based on international law, norms and rules "amidst the multitude of existing and emerging challenges facing the Philippines" and the region.

Developments in the Indo-Pacific have recently become the center of the world's interest as disputes in the South China Sea, a very busy waterway located in the region, remain unresolved.

Since the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is at the center of the region, he said, the so-called centrality of the regional bloc "is crucial" to be maintained.

Such centrality, he said, would ensure that regional discussions and initiatives would be inclusive, transparent and driven by consensus-building.

That would thus foster "trust and cooperation among nations with diverse backgrounds and interests," he added.

"In fact, in his remarks at the 42nd ASEAN Summit Retreat Session... President Marcos was unequivocal in his assertion," Manalo said.

Manalo said Marcos asserted that "the rules-based regional architecture should be underpinned by the Centrality of ASEAN towards inclusive engagement in the Indo-Pacific, as exemplified in ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific."

The country's top diplomat vowed that the government would then promote a "pro-active and forward-looking foreign policy" as guided by the President's 8-point socio-economic agenda.