CALAMBA CITY, Laguna, June 2 (PIA) – In line with the government’s aim to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration and deepen the understanding of its value and underlying benefits to the Filipinos who are part of the ASEAN Community, the Philippine Information Agency Region IV-A (PIA IV-A) opened two ASEAN Information Kiosks and conducted a Kapihan sa PIA with ASEAN Pillars Representatives –Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – joined by PIA IV-A Regional Director (RD) Ma. Cristina C. Arzadon which tackled the ASEAN Integration at Lucena City last May 31.
“Yung Southeast Asian Region is composed of 630 million people. Under the ASEAN integration hindi na lang tayo Filipino citizen, we are also ASEAN citizens (The Southeast Asian Region is composed of 630 million people. Under the ASEAN integration we are not only Filipino citizens, but also ASEAN citizens),” RD Arzadon explained when she was asked to enlighten the audience of ASEAN’s relevance to the ordinary people during the Kapihan sa PIA at Lucena Pacific Mall.
She further explained its benefits for the ordinary Filipinos, “Magsimula tayo doon sa ating mga magsasaka. Imagine having a market composed of more than 600 million citizens. Ito yung ating market sa ating mga produkto. So, for any ordinary farmer or a Chief Executive Officer ng isang business establishment ay pare-parehong makikinabang tayo dito sa ating ASEAN integration (Let us begin in our farmers. Imagine having a market composed of more than 600 million citizens. This is the market of our products. So, for any ordinary farmer or a Chief Executive Officer, all of us shall similarly benefit in the ASEAN integration),” she elaborated emphasizing how big the market has become having a community such as the ASEAN.
We will have a bigger opportunity to export our products, she said. For instance, Quezon farmers have local products currently being exported to some of the neighboring ASEAN countries and DTI has in fact already identified several markets for the Philippine local products.
She also mentioned the Visa-free travels to ASEAN member states which is tacitly an opportunity to explore our fellow-ASEAN’s culture and to experience their way of living.
“In terms of security, maaasahan natin na tutulong ang ating mga ASEAN neighbors in terms of securing our maritime territories, in terms of securing our, for example, peace and order (In terms of security, we can rely on our ASEAN neighbors in terms of securing our maritime territories, in terms of securing our, for example, peace and order),” she added, saying that the ASEAN leaders have vowed to aid our country in various security undertakings including the war against illegal drugs.
The provisions on healthcare for the elderly, persons with disability (PWDs), and women sector, among others, were also on the priority list of the ASEAN integration, she stated.
DSWD-Quezon Social Welfare and Development (SWD) Officer II Ronald Amora represented the socio-cultural pillar of the ASEAN. During the forum, he discussed two of their Department’s major programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program which are in step with the goal of ASEAN to improve the quality of lives of the Filipinos.
He clarified that 4Ps continues even after the shift of government leadership. “Ang Pantawid (4Ps) sabi nga natin is conditional cash transfer. Bago mo tanggapin ang tulong mula sa gobyerno ay may mga kondisyon. Dapat sumunod ka sa mga kondisyon kagaya ng maging mabuti tayong magulang, maging responsableng magulang at ang mga bata ay kailangang pumasok 85% ng kanilang attendance sa school (As we say, 4Ps is conditional cash. There are conditions which you need to follow before you can receive provisions from the government. You need to follow the conditions like you should be a good and responsible parent, and the children should have 85% attendance in school),” he explained.
Aside from the aforementioned conditions, those parents with children aged below 5 years old should send their kids to the Day Care Center starting at 3 years old, women who were pregnant or who have an infant must undergo check-ups in Barangay Health Centers regularly, and recipients should attend the Family Development Session (FDS). There shall be deductions on the cash benefits if they will not comply.
“Along the way, kapag nakakasunod ka at natuturuan nating maging responsable yung magulang at bawat pamilya at kaalinsabay noon ay tumataas yung enrollment at nakakalevel-up sila sa kanilang grade level; iyon ang ating tulong (Along the way, when parents and families are able to follow and were taught to become responsible and, at the same time, the enrollment increases and the students level up every school year; that is how we are able to help them),” he said.
Sustainable Livelihood Program, on the other hand, renders opportunity for beneficiaries either to be trained on entrepreneurship and receive capital for their business or to enroll in any technical skills training for employment facilitation. He emphasized that the purpose of these programs are to enable the beneficiaries to eventually stand on their own by becoming responsible and productive citizens and having their own source of income.
Political Security Pillar
“The ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Pillar aims to promote peace and security in the Southeast Asian Region. Each member state settles disputes in a peaceful manner,” as read by DFA-Lucena Administrative Officer Caroline M. Zabella from the APSC background provided by DFA.
APSC believes that political development is an important part of a progressive community and it aims to bring about prosperity for all ASEAN citizens and seeks to achieve a stable democratic and harmonious environment, she conveyed.
In terms of securing the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in neighboring ASEAN countries, “Yun po yung papel ng ating mga foreign service posts. Ito po yung mga embassies, consulates, and missions abroad. Ito po yung mga tauhan rin ng DFA na naassign abroad na tumutulong po sa ating mga OFs, yung mga overseas Filipinos, hindi lang workers kundi pati na rin yung mga permanent residents na hindi pa naman citizens ng bansang iyon (That is the role of our foreign service posts. The embassies, consulates, and missions abroad. They are the ones who help our Overseas Filipinos (OFs), not only the workers but also the permanent residents who were not yet citizens of that country),” she answered when a member from media asked her with regards to how they were able to secure the OFWs within the region.
Our foreign posts help the OFs with their work-related concerns, for instance, if they want to be repatriated or need to ship their remains in case of death, she finished.
In light of the beginning of another school year, DTI-Quezon Division Chief Pablito C. Budoy was asked by the media regarding the monitoring of the prices of school supplies. “Yun pong mga presyo katulad po nung basic commodities, prime commodities, basic necessities at saka po school items, lahat po nang ito ay namomonitor at sila po ay hindi po lumalampas dun sa sinasabing Suggested Retail Price (SRP) (The prices of basic commodities, prime commodities, basic necessities and school items are all monitored and they do not exceed what we call the Suggested Retail Price [SRP]),” he explained.
According to him, the prices specifically of school supplies are actually lower than the SRP in some of the stores they have visited and it was because they were currently selling old stocks. He assured that DTI is doing its job to ensure that prices of school items will not cause any burden to the Filipino families sending their children to school.
“Wala kasi tayong category na kung sino yung first. Ito kasi ay integration, yung pagtutulungan. So yung ASEAN ay nagcoconstitute ng about 600 million mouths, so ibig sabihin lumalaki yung ating market na nagiging pabor sa atin sa mga Pilipino (There is no category of who is first. Because this is integration wherein countries help each other out. So the ASEAN constitutes about 600 million mouths that means a bigger market favoring us Filipinos),” he stated after being asked whether the Philippines is a fort-runner in the ASEAN economy or otherwise.
He added that DTI has programs to improve local products through product development to keep up in the international market, one of which is Go-Local. Through this program, DTI provides capital to ordinary entrepreneurs and helps them in enhancing and developing products to eventually become high-end products which shall be marketable nationally and later on globally.
PIA IV-A is expected to continue promoting ASEAN within the CALABARZON region all-year-round. More information kiosks will be opened to disseminate free reading materials about ASEAN and government programs, and more forums regarding ASEAN integration shall be conducted to deepen people’s understanding and encourage participation among Filipino ASEAN citizens. (GG/RCG, PIA4A)