News Release

PBBM assures Timor-Leste of PH’s continued support

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday assured Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak that the Philippines will be his country’s partner as it moves towards becoming a full-fledged member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“In the Philippines, you have a partner. We have always been supportive,” President Marcos said during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Ruak in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia on the sidelines of the 42nd ASEAN Summit.

“It has always been our view that the membership of Timor-Leste in ASEAN could only strengthen ASEAN and I’m very happy that the process has continued and you are now here to join us as an observer with the ultimate end of becoming a full-fledged member of ASEAN,” he said.

The President also expressed elation over Timor-Leste’s journey towards becoming a democratic state and eventually becoming an ASEAN member state. Timor-Leste currently holds an observer status in the regional bloc.

“I’m very happy that to see — the fruition of what we have been discussing in ASEAN as the membership of Timor-Leste,” Marcos said.

“I came then happy to see that there has been progress, and they will now have the observer status and are beginning to participate in the discussions with what we have. As you can see the there are some the strength of Asia really is the commonality,” the President added.

President Marcos said he expects the continuing intra-ASEAN discussions and coordination as well as bilateral connections to grow stronger.

Marcos said it is an important part for the growing and emerging democracy of Timor-Leste sharing a common principle with the Philippines. “For our part in the Philippines are (shared) those facts that Timor-Leste brought people to life as a state.”

“And those are the things that we fight for and these are the values and the principles that we continue to espouse and therefore we will find in that a very large common ground for us to work together,” Marcos said.

For his part, Prime Minister Ruak thanked President Marcos for receiving him during the bilateral meeting as well as for the Philippines’ continued support to his country for its ASEAN membership.

“Philippines is a great friend of Timor-Leste. We have a big community of Philippines in our country, but we have also a big community of Timorese in Philippines. We have the missionaries, we have the teachers. So it’s not just diplomatic relations, it’s emotion,” Prime Minister Ruak said through a translator.

“Additionally, we have had the support of Philippines since the very first moments of our independence,” he said.

The prime minister particularly mentioned the presence of Filipino peacekeepers under the banner of the UN.

Ruak said Timor Leste has been working hard to comply with all the criteria and conditions for its ASEAN membership, knowing it has a strong backing and support among ASEAN members.

“But of course we are not working alone. We know that we will have the support and assistance from the big family of ASEAN and we are secure that we will make progress in this,” he said.

On the other hand, Marcos thanked Ruak for acting quickly on the application for political asylum of embattled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., considered one of the possible masterminds in the killing of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and several others.

Marcos said the Philippine government appreciated his decision as it would be easier for the authorities to bring Teves back to the country to answer the allegations against him.

“In denying his request for political asylum then we are going closer in the case to bring him back home to face the allegations that have been made [against him]. But again, we thank you for your very quick response in that regard,” the President told Ruak.

“Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister for your very quick action on this issue,” he added.

Marcos’ statement came after Ruak raised the application for asylum of Teves during their bilateral meeting on Thursday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs reported Timor-Leste has denied Teves’ application for political asylum and had ordered him to leave the country within five days. (PND)