The Philippines, as chair this year, shall prioritize in making the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) People-Oriented, People-Centered.
“To achieve this, we will ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of migrant workers by pushing for policies that will protect them across the ASEAN nations. We will also ensure promotion and protection of the rights of the vulnerable sectors (including) women, children, persons with disabilities (PWDs), older persons, internally displaced persons among others,” Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said during Tuesday’s ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Pillar launch in Angeles City.
For Maria Marilag and Maricel Mira of KASAMAKA sa Bulacan that means giving opportunities to PWDs to be “mainstreamed” in the society.
“ASEAN (under the Philippine hosting), gives us the opportunity to showcase our talent and to bridge the gap between us and abled-body individuals,” Marilag said as her group rendered a dance number during the launch.
“We hope ASEAN can be a platform for PWDs to prove that they not pambahay (staying home) and someone to be pitied, that we can contribute for the betterment of the society,” Mira stressed.
In line with the people-oriented, people-centered goal, the Philippines shall also further promote appreciation of cultural heritage and strengthening the ASEAN cultural identity.
“Tahanan ng mayabong at mayamang kultura ang ASEAN. Nais nating mapreserba ang ating mga cultural heritage para sa atin at mga susunod na henerasyon (ASEAN is home to a rich culture. We wish to preserve our cultural heritage for us and future generations),” Taguiwalo furthered.
For college student Irish Castro, the Philippine hosting of ASEAN will enable her to learn more about the country’s neighbors.
“I’m eager to know kung ano ang pagkakahalintulad at pagkakaiba natin sa ating mga kapitbahay. Like ano ba ang religious rituals sa Thailand? Ano ang pagkakapareho ng ating mga kasuotan sa Indonesia? Through this, mas magkakaroon tayo ng respect sa kanila (I’m eager to know what our similarities and differences are with our neighbors. Like, what are the religious rituals in Thailand? What are the similarities of our clothing with Indonesia? Through this, we will respect them more,” Castro said.
Relative to this, the Philippines will also intensify access to healthcare and improve nutrition.
“A sound body and mind enables us to work with vigor and pursue our passion in life. We will ensure that nutrition specifically for children in their primary years will be prioritized,” Taguiwalo said.
For Grade 10 student Marco Villarico, the Philippines would champion to other member states the rights of Children.
“The Philippines would champion the rights of children particularly on ensuring access to basic services such as health and education,” Villarico said.
And lastly, the Philippines shall promote the role of civil service as catalyst for achieving ASEAN Vision 2025.
“Civil servants as drivers for positive change will be further strengthened through coordination among ASEAN Member States,” Taguiwalo said.
For Lisa Fabillar of Office of Civil Defense Region 3, ASEAN has helped beefed up the country’s disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) capabilities and neighboring countries have always been there to help in times of calamities.
“It’s a give and take thing regarding DRRM. Our skills are upgraded through the trainings they organize. They too learn from us as we sometimes hold ASEAN-wide trainings too. Just last August 2016, the 6th ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team Induction Course was held in Subic Bay Freeport with our DRRM Officers in Central Luzon serving as speakers in some of the sessions,” Fabillar shared.
The ASCC is one of the pillars of the ASEAN Community, along with Political-Security and Economic, which seeks to forge a common identity and build a caring and sharing society.
Apart from being people-oriented and people-centered, the Philippines also intends to achieve in this year’s hosting Peace and Stability in the Region, Maritime Security and Cooperation, Inclusive and Innovation-led Growth, ASEAN Resiliency, and ASEAN: A Model of Regionalism, a Global Player.
This year’s hosting, which coincides with the group’s 50th anniversary, carries the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”