Recently, the Philippines hosted Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017. It was a historic event, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the association. The theme for the summit was “Partnering for change, engaging the world”, which is aligned with President Digong’s “change is coming.” The ASEAN 2017 logo was well-thought-of as it captured the Association’s vision which includes unity and collaboration among the members. Interestingly, the ten stars on the logo were positioned equidistantly to emphasize the equality among the members.
The Philippines can benefit in the Asean partnership in many ways, supported by the pillars of the ASEAN Vision 2020 which are as follows:
One: ASEAN Political-Security Community.
The Association aims for peace with each other and the world. The news often talks of peace between countries, or rather to be more precise, its absence. The image of unrest in affected countries is a picture no one would want to be part of, I can imagine. Even our country is not free of terrorism, which has already been a long battle that is not yet won until now. Just before the ASEAN visit started, certain areas within the country were alarmed because of the rise of terrorism that caused concern and anxiety to most for their safety. Moreover, the lack of security disrupts the country’s development. There is a lot of chaos around the globe today; hence, the country’s alliance with its neighbors sends a message to the people that our leaders support the fight for peace. This offers some comfort to the Filipinos who are hoping for a life of harmony.
Two: ASEAN Economic Community.
There is hope that the country’s membership in the ASEAN will encouragingly affect the country’s economy. In fact, statistics already indicate that the rise in inflation rates has slowed down in the recent past years. In a report by Bloomberg in 2016, the Philippine economy was reported to be “seen as among fastest-expanding in the world until 2018.” Data also indicate an imminent growth in the Philippine economy; however, the real challenge lies on how soon the effects will trickle down to the majority of the Filipinos.
Three: ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
The welfare of the people is among the priorities of ASEAN. Truly, this is apt for the citizens of the regions and the world. An ordinary person faces varying adversities from day to day. The programs that should be implemented to achieve this vision is indeed one that is worthy to look forward to as this will enable the country to benchmark on actions taken by other countries in improving the people’s welfare.
Of course, all relationships forged, hard work is required to nurture and preserve it. ASEAN calls for a change in the mindset, one that is all-inclusive and collaborative among its member countries. There will be similarities and differences of what and who we are as Filipinos when compared to our neighbor nations. As Confucius said, “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.” And so, it will all do us good as long as our leaders are mindful to practice only what is good for the country’s development from this partnership.
(Ms. Fernandez is a manager for Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton, a leading audit, tax, advisory, and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 800 staff members. For comments on this article, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or PAGrantThornton.email@example.com. For our services, visit www.grantthornton.com.ph. Follow us on Twitter: pagrantthornton, and FB: P&A Grant Thornton).
As published in Mindanao Times, dated on 30 April 2017