Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PCOO, PIA spearhead 2017 ASEAN multisectoral forum in Bicol
By Gina V. Rodriguez

LEGAZPI CITY, April 21 -- The Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in Bicol led the 2017 ASEAN multisectoral forum in this city Friday that aims to raise public awareness on the impact of ASEAN for the Philippines.

Nearly 200 representatives from national government agencies based in the Bicol region were informed on the rationale for an ASEAN community that would enhance economic, cultural and social cooperation and help promote peace and stability among the ten ASEAN member states.

Gregorio Angelo Villar, deputy director general of PIA, told participants to the forum that the massive information and education campaign on ASEAN is being spearheaded by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) through the PIA.

He said PIA seeks to communicate to every member of the population how they can benefit from being part of one ASEAN community.

Villar said efforts have been made by the government to make information on having one ASEAN community accessible to ordinary citizens by putting up information kiosks at domestic airports and sea ports.

Yesterday, one of the kiosks was put up at the Legazpi domestic airport with various materials underscoring the ASEAN campaign’s theme of “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Villar said for real change to happen there must be a change in mindset among the Filipino citizens before they can fully understand what it means to belong to one ASEAN community.

He said the Filipinos must not think of citizens of other member states of the regional organization of Southeast Asian nations, that was first organized 50 years ago, as “them.”

“The Filipinos must learn to call themselves as ASEAN citizens” in the long term, said Villar.

Marlon A. Loterte, assistant PIA-Bicol director and PIA-Albay manager, stressed during yesterday’s launch of the information kiosk on ASEAN at the Legazpi domestic airport that it is important to promote information on ASEAN as this will help uplift the quality of life of ordinary citizens.

He said in Bicol, the National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA and Regional Development Council - Private Sector Representatives or RDC-PSRs have made commitments to become development partners for the ASEAN economic integration.

Loterte said this economic integration among the ASEAN member states aims to hasten economic, social and cultural progress in the region through joint endeavors.

During the whole-day ASEAN multisectoral forum at Hotel St. Ellis today, Agnes Espinas, director NEDA in Bicol spoke on the “economic context in the ASEAN and RP.”

She said in Bicol there are challenges to be faced in improving the region’s competitiveness, particularly in the areas of health services and in the education sector.

Espinas, however, noted that while it is a “long road to development,” the Bicol region has at least been awakened.

She cited that the Bicol region is “not yet ready to be competitive” particularly when it comes to infrastructures that will support economic integration such as electricity, transportation and utilities.

“There are local policies that have to be amended,” said Espinas.

She added, however, that “we’re positive we can do it.” (PNA)