The ASEAN has hit a major milestone as it celebrates its 50th year, with the Philippines being the host for this year’s summits and major events. With the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hopes to cultivate a people-centric discussion in the events happening this year.
The ASEAN has become a crucial part in maintaining harmony within the region, as well as the economic progress of its Member States. In his statement during the launch of the Philippine chairmanship of ASEAN, President Duterte has elucidated his willingness to place the people at the core for this year’s summit.
The Philippine government will also be pursuing an active role in the celebrations by organizing activities that will truly engage the public and inform those who know little about the Association. Spreading knowledge and information to the public is a crucial step in the Association’s mission as not many Filipinos are fully aware of the role the ASEAN has in maintaining peace and coordination within the region.
Philippine Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said that though “81 percent of ASEAN citizens has heard of the ASEAN, only 24 percent have a basic understanding of what it is and its purpose” – which is why the PCOO plans to hold roadshows and give out educational materials written in different dialects to spread out as much information about the ASEAN as they can. This way there can be assurance that the public will be thoroughly engaged in the discussions that will happen during the summit.
Aside from the planned dissemination of information, President Duterte also unveiled the ASEAN 2017 commemorative coin and stamp as a show of support for this momentous celebration. Through this the government hopes to get the attention of the public and immerse them in the talks about the ASEAN.
Most importantly, influential meetings will also be held this year wherein foreign delegates and world leaders will have the chance to discuss key issues being faced by the member- states. The government has announced six topics that will be prioritized in the discussions this year which include peace and stability in the region, maritime security and cooperation, inclusive, innovation-led growth, ASEAN’s resiliency, a people- centered ASEAN and ASEAN as a model of regionalism.
By AYEZA KAMILLE MALLARI, ASEAN Correspondent from Philippines