The week after the country hosted the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Apr. 26-29, UPLB held a symposium aimed at further strengthening public awareness of the goals and initiatives of the ASEAN.
The symposium entitled “Transforming lives, strengthening institutions: The Philippines in an integrated ASEAN economic community” was held on May 3 at Umali Auditorium in SEARCA, UPLB.
Three experts on ASEAN and on the fields that have impact on the Region led the Symposium’s discussions, namely: Zaldy B. Patron, executive director of the Office of ASEAN Affairs-Department of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Cielito F. Habito, professor of economics at the Ateneo de Manila University and chief of party of USAID’s “Trade-Related Assistance for Development (TRADE) Project,” and Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese, program leader of the Philippine National Space Development Program at the Department of Science and Technology.
Patron explained the structure and committees of ASEAN and discussed its priorities and initiatives this year as the country takes chairmanship, which also marks ASEAN’s 50th year. According to Patron, ASEAN’s Philippine-led initiatives go back to the basic themes of the Region, such as being people-centered, having inclusive growth, and creating a resilient, integrated, and competitive ASEAN. Thus the initiatives include empowering micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and promoting the welfare and protection of migrant workers and the vulnerable sectors, among others.
Meanwhile, Dr. Habito presented the impacts of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on the Philippine economy, such as creating complementation instead of competition and bringing significant increases in trade and better access to the market. He also highlighted how the AEC has affected laws and policies, such as the passing of the Open Skies Policy and Trade and Investment Liberalization and Competition Policy, which could boost the country’s economy.
Dr. Sese, on the other hand, spoke about the need for and benefits of having a Philippine space agency. He also emphasized how the ASEAN can work to fill-in common space science needs, such as Earth observation for disaster prevention and resources monitoring, maritime observation, facilities for assembly, integration and testing of satellites, and technology transfer and development.
Present during the Symposium was Chancellor Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., who, in his opening remarks, said that the ASEAN integration opens development opportunities for higher-education institutions and human resources. He said that for the academe, participating in the ASEAN means intensifying educational cooperation within the Region, narrowing development gaps, and increasing the competitiveness of its people.
Also present was Dr. Cristeta Cuaresma, head of SEARCA’s Graduate Education and Institutional Development Program, who represented Dr. Gil F. Saguiguit, Jr., director. She emphasized the AEC’s benefits to Philippine agriculture, including maximizing the borderless trade for small-scale farmers.
Dr. Jose V. Camacho, Jr., dean of the Graduate School (GS), served as the moderator during the open forum, while Dr. Isabelita M. Pabuayon, dean of the College of Economics and Management (CEM), gave the closing remarks.
The symposium was organized by the GS, CEM, and SEAMEO-SEARCA in partnership with the UPLB Economics Society, UNESCO Club, and UP Epsilon Chi Fraternity. (Jessa Jael S. Arana)