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Ph gov’t kicks-off ASEAN 2017 hosting on January 15

MANILA, Philippines – The government is set to officially launch the ASEAN 2017 in Davao City on January 15 in order to raise awareness regarding the country’s summit hosting.
“As the Philippines assumes chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 which also coincides with its 50th year anniversary, our stride is wade by a sense of pride and excitement as we step into the century and the world hand in hand,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said at a press briefing in Malacañan.
In officially launching ASEAN 2017 at the Davao SMX Convention Center, the government through the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has partnered with different government agencies led by the Department of Tourism, to create a memorable event that will set the tone of this important year-long commitment, Secretary Andanar added.
ASEAN 2017 organizers said the event is a celebration of the merging of rich cultures that defines ASEAN. Fifty years since its inception, it continues to empower cultures to come together in their shared aim of a prosperous and progressive future for all.
For the ASEAN@50 launch, the Philippines as host country puts the spotlight on Davao. The province is a showcase of the country’s welcoming and cooperative personality. In Davao, different religious beliefs and ethnic groups coexist in peace, and languages and industries converge. The result is a dynamic, secure, and booming state that is becoming more recognized in the world – a representation of the ASEAN’s objective for every member state.
The PCOO will be the lead committee on media affairs and communications to spread awareness and educate the public about the ASEAN.
ASEAN comprises the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam.
With the theme, “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” ASEAN 2017 is bent on becoming an avenue for education, cooperation and stronger partnerships amongst its member countries. But this can be too technical to an ordinary Filipino citizen.
Andanar noted people’s lack of awareness saying that while 81 percent of ASEAN citizens have heard of the regional grouping, only 24 percent have a basic understanding of what it is and its purpose.
In order to raise public awareness, the PCOO plans to conduct roadshows all over the country and throughout the year. ASEAN representatives from PCOO will deliver talks, conduct seminars, and even distribute comics and other reading materials written in different Philippine languages.
Among the ASEAN 2017’s priorities include people-oriented and people-centered initiatives, peace and stability, maritime security and cooperation, inclusive and innovative-led growth, ASEAN resiliency and ASEAN as model of regionalism.
The PCOO will also provide media coverage logistics for the 30th ASEAN Summit on April 2017, the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings coinciding with ASEAN’s 50th anniversary celebration in Metro Manila by August, and the 31st ASEAN Summit in Clark, Pampanga in November, Andanar said.
ASEAN members will be undertaking ongoing work throughout the year focusing on the unfinished Code of Conduct of the South China Sea and the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and the principles of the Code of Conduct, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo, who was also present during the briefing, explained.
“In fact, one of our main goals this year in cooperation with China, not only Philippines but ASEAN and China, is to try and arrive at a framework for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by the end of the year, that will be one of our main priorities,” he added.
Aside from hosting the ASEAN Summits, the Philippines will also organize the ASEAN Plus Three, and the East Asia Summit with ASEAN’s dialogue partners, according to Manalo.
Asked about the country’s benefits from its ASEAN hosting, Manalo said the Philippines gains economically from a stronger ASEAN economy. In terms of social welfare, there will be greater participation of the citizenry not only for the Philippines but for the entire region, he said, adding the Philippines’ hosting also expands its influence not only in the region but beyond.
The country also benefits in the area of security, combatting drugs, terrorism, and violent extremism as a result of enhanced cooperation among ASEAN member countries, he said.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.