ASEAN members agree to intensify joint disaster management and emergency response

MANILA –Leaders from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)member-states have agreed to further intensify joint disaster management and emergency response in order to lessen impacts of major disasters that may hit ASEAN Region..

ASEAN member-states on Saturday signed an ASEAN pact on the Role of the Civil Service as Catalyst in Achieving ASEAN Community Vision 2015, a Philippine initiative and the only declaration signed during the country’s hosting of the 30th ASEAN Summit.

Under the declaration, ASEAN civil service institutions have been tasked to lead efforts in promoting cooperation in the development and implementation of capacity-building programs and sharing best practices, including disaster management and environment protection.

“In November, we will meet (again). All the heads of civil service institutions of 10 member states will already discuss how do we move forward (to implement the declaration)” said Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala in an interview with the Philippines News Agency.

Dela Rosa-Bala said the Philippines also pushed the ASEAN declaration on “One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region”.

Signed by the ASEAN leaders during the 28th ASEAN Summit last year, the declaration was based on the principle of harnessing the individual and collective strengths of different sectors and stakeholders in ASEAN to effectively respond to disasters inside and outside the region.

She recalled that all ASEAN member states provided assistance to the Philippines during Super Typhoon “Yolanda” either through bilateral cooperation or as a region.

“And there is this ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance. So this is the start. This means this (new declaration) can strengthen that kind of collaboration among civil servants to address the concerns when it comes to emergency situations like typhoons, calamities and even health emergencies,” Dela Rosa-Bala added.

She further said there was already an agreement on emergency management and response reached in early 2000, in which each ASEAN country contributes a certain amount every year.

The CSC said an ASEAN-run disaster emergency logistics system of relief depot was built in Malaysia to provide a package communication system to disaster-affected countries, like the Philippines during Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Dela Rosa-Bala added that emergency relief goods could be provided if requested by disaster-affected country or offered by ASEAN member-states.

In signing the declaration on civil service, the Philippines broke new ground in ensuring cooperation and synergy among the ASEAN member-states across the political security, economic and socio-cultural, and the various sectors of the ASEAN community.

“We want to acknowledge that the Civil Service is the driving force in ensuring that whatever has been written in the Vision 2025 and the different blueprints of the three pillars –the political security, the economic and the socio-cultural blueprints– will be realized,” she added. Leslie Venzon/