Benguet readies for ASEAN provincial stakeholders forum

BAGUIO CITY — To be able to develop and raise awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agenda and vision as well as the opportunities provided to the member-countries, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera (PIA) will hold the first provincial multi-stakeholders forum on ASEAN at the Benguet provincial capitol on June 30.

Helen Tibaldo, PIA-CAR regional director, said the three pillars of the ASEAN aim to narrow down the development gap in the member-countries.

Speakers for the economic pillar will include Agnes Perpetua Legaspi, assistant director of the Export Marketing Bureau –DTI, Susan Balanza, Chief, Planning Office of the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera and Jovita Ganongan, supervising tourism operations officer of the Department of Tourism- Cordillera.

Police Superintendent Homer Penecilla, chief of the Regional Operations and Planning Division of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PRO-COR), will discuss the Political-Security pillar while the Socio-Cultural pillar will be discussed by Department of Social Welfare and Development-Cordillera Regional Director Janet Armas, former NCCA Chairman Professor Felipe De Leon, OCD-CAR Information Officer Ivy Frances Carasi and Claire Pawid of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera.

There will be about 300 attendees from different sectors like barangay captains, municipal councilors, local government unit representatives, provincial officials and employees, farmers, senior citizens, persons with disability, non-government organizations, national line agency representatives, businessmen and media.

With the Philippines’ hosting of the ASEAN, the PCOO leads the committee on media affairs and communications which is tasked to spread awareness and educate the public about ASEAN.

The Philippine Information Agency, the information arm of the government, which is under the PCOO, coordinates and leads the ASEAN information campaign activities at the grassroots level.

Tibaldo explained that the ASEAN offers opportunities such as a bigger, more open and rules-based market for business, more trade, and increased people-to people interaction through commerce, travel and education, among others.

“Communicating such benefits and gains is crucial for the people to appreciate and embrace the ASEAN way. Hence, there is a need to develop or increase awareness, understanding and appreciation on ASEAN for our people to avail of the opportunities provided to the member countries.”

She revealed that based on the ASEAN regional survey, of the 81 percent ASEAN citizens who have heard of the regional grouping, only 24 percent have a basic understanding of what it is and its purpose. In 2014, the country also ranked among the lowest in the ASEAN region in terms of ASEAN awareness.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who chairs the 2017 event that coincides with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, enjoined every Filipino to take active participation and support in various ASEAN activities.

The ASEAN was established in 1967 with 10 countries in the Southeast Asia as members. Its founding members are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand while Brunei, Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar and Vietnam followed suit. The Philippine Chairmanship carries the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

ASEAN aims to accelerate economic growth, social progress, socio-cultural evolution among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.

Last April, the 30th ASEAN Summit took place graced by ASEAN leaders. Among the other major upcoming events are the Grand Celebration of ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary on 8 August and the 31st ASEAN Summit in November. Liza Agoot/PNA-northboundasia.com