Marcos raises concern over ageing population in Southeast Asia
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Wednesday raised his concerns over the ageing population in Southeast Asia, saying this must be addressed.
During the opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2023 plenary session, Marcos said decades of sustained economic growth and prosperity has resulted in longer lifespans in the region.
Citing the Asian Development Bank, he said one out of four people in the Asia Pacific will be over the age of 60 by 2050.
“I think, therefore, it is time that ASEAN should start discussing the concerns of an ageing population, consistent with the ASEAN tradition of valuing our elders,” Marcos said.
“We must view this, all this as an opportunity and as a challenge, especially in terms of adequate social benefits on the one hand and social empowerment on the other,” he added.
He also said ASEAN goals and work plans should ensure health for our elders, a safe and dignified, and productive life.
Marcos also brought up the need for the regional grouping to transition to renewable and alternative energy technologies, stressing Philippines is doing its part in that regard.
He called for unity among ASEAN members as he urged developed countries to fulfill their long-standing commitments to the Paris Agreement.
“Although developing countries such as the Philippines only account for less than one percent of global emissions, our countries bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of climate change,” the President said.
He noted Philippines will take bold steps to transition to renewable and alternative energy technologies in a secure and sustainable manner, noting that the country is rich in critical metals like aluminum, nickel and chromite, which are energy efficient to produce.
“Recognizing that a cleaner energy future is anchored on the supply of critical minerals, ASEAN should now start enhancing regional cooperation towards boosting the region’s strategic industrial metals and minerals value chain,” Marcos said.
International law and free trade
Marcos also called on ASEAN to focus on upholding international law and the international rules-based system and committing to the principles of free trade and to the multilateral trading system.
Upholding international law and the rules-based system has underpinned the peace, security, stability, and prosperity of the region, Marcos said.
He welcomed Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship priority of strengthening regional cooperation to address cross-border crimes, particularly Trafficking in Persons.
In terms of trade and commerce, the President announced the Philippines has deposited its Instrument of Ratification for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement.
“We are optimistic that RCEP will serve as an engine of growth that will help build more resilient supply chains and support the integration of our micro, medium, and small-scale establishments into the global economy,” Marcos told the plenary.
“ASEAN must strengthen cross-border connectivity and the interoperability of digital frameworks. We must forge a vibrant digital economy and ensure that our people are equipped with the digital skills of the future so that no one is left behind in the midst of our world’s digital transformation,” he said.
ASEAN members must also ensure that food and energy systems are resilient in the face of the supply and price fluctuations triggered by geopolitical instability and conflict, pandemics, climate change, logistics chain disruptions, and fuel shortages.
Philippines, Marcos said, aims to strengthen food security and production efficiency via the use of new agricultural technologies, upgrading Technical and Vocational Education and Training, and adopting climate- and disaster-resilient technologies.
Meanwhile, the President rallied for a whole-of-community support to Timor-Leste for its journey towards full ASEAN membership.
The Philippine leader said Timor-Leste would strengthen the ASEAN Community as it expands the reach of the regional bloc’s united front to face the challenges of the 21st century.