(Read by Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones)

GOOD MORNING TO ALL OUR MEDIA FRIENDS.

WE ARE HONORED TO HOST THIS YEAR’S EAST ASIAN SEAS CONGRESS GIVEN THE IMPORTANCE THAT PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE HAS PLACED ON THE HEALTH OF OUR SEAS AND OCEANS PARTICULARLY WITH THE REHABILITATION OF BORACAY.

THE THEME FOR THIS YEAR’S CONGRESS IS “25 YEARS OF PARTNERSHIPS FOR HEALTHY OCEANS, PEOPLE AND ECONOMIES OR H.O.P.E: MOVING AS ONE WITH THE GLOBAL AGENDA”. WITH THIS, WE REMAIN HOPEFUL THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE OUR TARGETS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR SEAS AND OCEANS.

THIS CONGRESS IS AN OPPORTUNE TIME TO STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS IN THE REGION. IT WILL BE A PLATFORM TO SHARE INITIATIVES AND BEST PRACTICES ON INTEGRATED COASTAL MANAGEMENT (ICM) THAT WILL HELP MANAGE AND PROTECT MARINE LIFE.

WE EXPECT MORE THAN 1,000 PARTICPANTS AS WELL AS OUR MULTILATERAL PARTNERS AND FUNDING AGENCIES SUCH AS THE UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (UNDP) AND THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF) WHOM WE WILL TAP TO INVEST IN OCEAN-BASED BLUE ECONOMY.

A BLUE ECONOMY DOES NOT ONLY EQUATE TO BUSINESS REVENUES. MORE IMPORTANT, IT CONSIDERS HOW THE PROPER USE AND CARE OF MARINE RESOURCES CAN PROVIDE EMPLOYMENT AND FOOD SECURITY TO MANY PEOPLE, AND ELIMINATE POVERTY.

FOR THE PHILIPPINES, WITH MORE THAN 32,000 KILOMETERS OF COASTLINE, THE HEALTH OF OUR SURROUNDING WATERS AND COASTAL HABITATS IS VITAL AS IT PROVIDES LIVELIHOOD TO MILLIONS OF FILIPINOS.

THROUGH THE 2018 EAST ASIAN SEAS CONGRESS, WE WILL LINK ARMS AND STRENGTHEN PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE 10-MEMBER COUNTRIES OF THE PARTNERSHIPS IN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT OF THE SEAS OF EAST ASIA (PEMSEA) NAMELY CAMBODIA, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA, INDONESIA, JAPAN, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA, LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, SINGAPORE, TIMOR LESTE, VIETNAM TO COME UP WITH A JOINT COMMITMENT TO TAKE RELEVANT ACTION TO BETTER PROTECT AND MANAGE OUR SHARED RESOURCES TOWARDS HEALTHY OCEANS, PEOPLES AMD ECONOMIES.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND A GOOD DAY TO ALL OF YOU!