Philippine Civil Society To Support Timor-Leste Bid for ASEAN Membership

Quezon City, Philippines – Nineteen years after the launch of the Asia Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) at the University of the Philippines, Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao will be in the same venue this Friday June 7, 2013 to address around 200 members of the academe and civil society to solicit support for his country’s bid for ASEAN membership.

Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) and the main convener of APCET said that “Prime Minister Gusmao’s visit to the Philippines is very meaningful, our country being in the forefront of championing democracy in the region and with civil society leading the solidarity movement for Timor Leste’s struggle for self-determination, through APCET. Thus, Philippine CSOs will support East Timor’s membership to the ASEAN which will hopefully further strengthen their young democracy ”.

APCET was established in 1994 after the successful IID-organized first APCET Conference held at the Malcolm Hall of the UP College of Law. Although marred by pressures and harassment by the then Suharto and Ramos governments, the conference proceeded – thanks to the University of the Philippines and the UP College of Law which staunchly defended academic freedom as well as the rights of conference organizers and participants. The Philippine Supreme Court also declared the conference as legal after a shadowy group successfully won an earlier TRO in a lower court. The APCET conference became the trailblazer of outpouring solidarity and support for Timor Leste’s struggle for independence in the country and the region.

In August 2008, 6 years after Timor Leste’s independence, Timor’s second President Jose Ramos Horta also delivered an address at Malcolm Hall as part of IID’s 20th year celebration and also to honor the birthplace of APCET.

Since Timor Leste’s signifying of intent to join ASEAN in 2002, the country formally applied for ASEAN membership on March 4, 2011. However, they are facing several hurdles in building consensus among ASEAN members. Singapore and Laos, specifically expressed concerns on Timor Leste’s economic development as they claim it could potentially be a step backward of ASEAN’s moving forward to ASEAN Community in 2015.

As part of addressing this concern, the Timor Leste government is on a roadshow among ASEAN countries vying for support. Timor-Leste has expressed commitment to building its human resources in order to contribute fully to the goals of the ASEAN.

This also serves as an invitation to the event:
“Peace and Reconciliation: Timor Leste Now and Then”
Malcolm Theater, UP College of Law,
University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
9:30 AM – 12:00 NN, June 7, 2013

Contact persons:
Gus Miclat, Email: gus@iidnet.org Mobile: 0917-7013099
Rich de los Santos, Email: rich.delossantos84@gmail.com; Mobile: 0927.644.6524

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