RI should push RP to commit to ASEAN, experts say
Indonesia and the Philippines may enjoy a harmonious bilateral relationship, but Indonesia as the chair of ASEAN this year may need to reaffirm the Philippines’ commitment to the bloc, expert says.
“So far the Philippines has tended to be inward looking and less active in regional forums because it has political instability at home,” Dewi Fortuna Anwar, an ASEAN expert at the Habibie Center, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Dewi said Indonesia should ensure the Philippines’ commitment to realizing ASEAN’s plan to become a community by 2015, during the Philippines’ president’s visit to Indonesia next week.
She said that in addition to being more active in regional forums, the Philippines had to solve internal conflicts, especially pertaining to rebel groups, before turning its attention to the ASEAN Political and Security Community.
Dewi said the ASEAN Political and Security Community regulated not only how an ASEAN country dealt with others in the bloc, but also how it dealt with internal conflicts.
She said the “distance” between the Philippines and other ASEAN countries was a result of its widely perceived closeness with Washington.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino III is scheduled to meet his Indonesian counterpart President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday next week during his first state visit to Indonesia since he was elected.
Presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said Aquino was expected to arrive in Jakarta on Monday evening and depart Wednesday.
“The official agenda will be his visit to Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, a bilateral meeting [with President Yudhoyono], a press conference and a state banquet, all on Tuesday,” he told the Post.
During the bilateral meeting, both leaders are expected to discuss economic, political, security and sociocultural issues, as well as regional cooperation, including in ASEAN, he said.
University of Indonesia international relations expert Hariyadi Wirawan said Aquino’s first visit to Indonesia as a president might reflect the Philippines’ strong interest to make a “small alliance”, to confront the “bigger alliance” of Malaysia and Thailand.
He said Indonesia and the Philippines were both archipelagic nations dealing with similar issues, including terrorism and security.
“There’s also a large possibility for [Aquino] to initiate another idea of the US’ bigger role in the East Asia Summit… as the Philippines may represent the US’ interest in containing a more assertive China.”