Secretary Andanar optimistic of increased public awareness on ASEAN

BACOLOD CITY-- Secretary Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) has expressed optimism of increasing public awareness on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community as about 600 multi-sectoral representatives attended the ASEAN-PCOO Roadshow here Friday.

"Only 24 percent of the ASEAN citizens have basic understanding of (what it is). It is incumbent for our office to go around and explain what ASEAN is," Andanar said in a press briefing at the sidelines of the roadshow at the Sugarland Hotel.

He added that after 11 months of hosting the ASEAN meetings as the Philippines assumes the chairmanship this year, he hopes that "more than 24 percent will already understand" the benefits ASEAN can bring to its citizens.

The roadshow capped the four-day ASEAN 2017 events here highlighted by the two-day 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials/Ministers Responsible for Information (SOMRI) on March 22 and 23 at SMX Convention Center Bacolod.

PCOO Undersecretary Noel Puyat chaired the 15th SOMRI Meeting.

During the roadshow, present were students, employees of national government agencies and local government units, barangay officials, and representatives from the business sector.

Moreover, Andanar said during the press briefing that a multi-lateral agreement on how to combat "fake news" is being eyed among the ASEAN member-states.

"We are aggressively talking to our counterparts in other ASEAN countries and one of the objectives is to have a very good bilateral communications relationship with (them). The problem of 'fake news' is also right there on top of the agenda," he added.

Andanar said that during their recent meeting, Thailand Deputy Government Spokesman Lt. Gen. Werachon Sukonthapatipak talked about the possibility of meeting with their other counterparts days before the 30th ASEAN Summit in April.

"One of the issues to be discussed, if that happens, will be 'fake news' - steps that we should take to at least combat it and discourage it, and inform the citizenry what fake and bonafide stories are," he added.

"It's best that we wait for that meeting to happen so that we the ASEAN will have a collected decision and will have a multi-lateral agreement on how we would define 'fake news,'" Andanar said, adding that he also wants the private media to join the discussion to have "a very fruitful, dynamic discourse."

Source: Philippines News Agency