Saturday, July 1, 2017

Bicolanos unite to support ASEAN in Roadshow

LEGAZPI CITY, July 1 —- The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have brought to Legazpi City the “2017 Roadshow on the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)” which is being hosted by the Philippines this year.

DILG-Bicol Elouisa T. Pastor welcomed delegates to the event on Friday which she said was an “impressive display” of the Bicolanos’ unity in support of ASEAN which is celebrating its 50th founding anniversary this year, deemed as a “milestone” celebration for the country.

She said the roadshow hoped to increase awareness among the people on how the Philippines as a member of the ten-nation regional organization can benefit from being part of ASEAN which is deemed as a “Community of Opportunities.”

Pastor added that it aims to help Bicolanos fully understand the impact of ASEAN in their lives, how they could benefit from the political alliances among the member countries and the economic integration of the Philippines into the global economy.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara led the delegates that included municipal mayors from Bicol provinces, regional directors and representatives of national government agencies and presidents of state colleges and universities.

Members of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, DILG directors from the six Bicol provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes, as well as media representatives showed up to lend their support to the event held at the Legazpi City Convention Center.

According to DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing, becoming a part of the ASEAN Economic Community means that the country can have access to the free flow of goods and services among the member-states of the organization.

“Without the ASEAN Economic Community, the market (for the Philippine products) will only be for the 105 million Filipinos,” he said.

Densing cited that ASEAN membership promises access to a market of 617 million people that comprise the population of the ASEAN member states.

The 10 ASEAN member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

PCCO Secretary Martin Andanar, keynote speaker at the event, said the nationwide information caravan on the ASEAN is being presented by major “troupes” represented by PC00, DILG, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process or OPAPP and “over 100 other government agencies.”

He said ASEAN 2017 presents the “future challenges all of us must face” and how the horizons could be opened for a “prosperous future.”

Bichara cited that Albay is lucky to be chosen as a venue for one of the ASEAN meetings.

ASEAN Executive Director Zaldy Patron, who discussed the topic on the Philippines as host of ASEAN this year, affirmed that the “Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministerial Meeting” will be conducted here in Legazpi City in August.

He announced that August 8 will be the start of the activities for the 50th founding anniversary celebration of ASEAN.

“At 8 a.m. on that day there will be a sailing of around 10 boats at the Manila Bay with each boat carrying a flag of each ASEAN member country,” said Patron.

He said at the same time there will be a simultaneous blowing of horns at stations of the Philippine Coast Guard across the country.

Patron said there will be a “landmark lighting” and ASEAN Day program in selected cities and municipalities in the country on Aug. 8.

“This means coordinated lighting by various local government units at 7 p.m. that day,” he said.

The Philippines is one of the five founding members of ASEAN when it was established in 1967. Its founding fathers are the five foreign ministers who signed the declaration establishing the regional group.

These are Adam Malik of Indonesia, Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, Thanat Khoman of Thailand and Narciso R. Ramos of the Philippines.

Patron said a tribute will be given to the founding fathers, who will be represented by their descendants, during the August 8 program at the Philippine International Convention Center. (Gina V. Rodriguez/PNA)