ASEAN SOMRI institutes mechanisms to strengthen cooperation in promoting ASEAN vision, identity

BACOLOD CITY -- The ASEAN Senior Officials Responsible for Information (SOMRI have agreed to establish mechanisms that will strengthen coordination among its community pillars to further promote the vision and identity of the ASEAN region.

The SOMRI leaders, during the 15th ASEAN SOMRI held at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City from March 22 to 23, 2017, have committed to pursue the development of an outcome-based system for the monitoring and evaluation of the effectiveness of various activities of the information sector on creating awareness and understanding on the relevance of the ASEAN in improving the welfare of the people within the region during the 15th ASEAN SOMRI held at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod City, from March 22 to 23, 2017.

The SOMRI discussed measures on institutionalizing linkages with the ASEAN Political Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community as well as their sectoral bodies pursuant to the directives of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI to ensure effective promotion of ASEAN awareness, unity and centrality.

They also tackled the progress of the ASEAN information sector in implementing the ASEAN Strategic Plan for Information and Media 2016-2025, a year since its adoption by the AMRI in March 2016. It noted that the sector has conducted initiatives to fulfill the goals of the strategic plan.

The ASEAN Strategic Plan for Information and Media ?2016-2025 serves as a roadmap on strengthening the role of information and media sector in the region towards supporting the community pillars with their communication needs; advocating the policies and initiatives implemented by ASEAN and communication with the people through different platforms and channels.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO Undersecretary Noel George Puyat, chairperson of the 15th SOMRI, thanked his colleagues for the successful meeting.

I congratulate my fellow senior officials for their dedication in creating the ASEAN identity and making sure, through proper policies and programs, that everyone benefits from our unity and centrality as a region, Puyat stated.

We are basically the support service of the three ASEAN pillars. We will know our work is effective if citizens of ASEAN Member States can answer questions about their neighboring countries and the positive effects of membership within ASEAN, he added.

The PCOO official, in his keynote speech, reiterated that an effective communication strategy can help gain public support and commitment to the initiatives of the ASEAN.

He emphasized that communication should work towards promoting peace and stability in the region especially in affirming the need for a rules-based approach in the people resolution of disputes in accordance with the principles of international law; supporting the development of micro, small and medium enterprises; and inspiring citizens to protect the environment and live sustainably.

Among the agenda tackled in the summit include initiatives and priority areas of the three SOMRI working groups namely, ASEAN Digital Broadcasting, Content and Production, and Information, Media and Training for the promotion of ASEAN's work and the development of the region's information and media sector; the next phase of the ASEAN Communication Master Plan and the complementary National Communication Plans of the Member States for heightening awareness of ASEAN and its relevance and its benefits; and progress of work plans and strengthening of cooperation between ASEAN and dialogue partner countries including China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India and Russia.

Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno pledged to support initiatives to create ASEAN awareness among local government units as the regional group commemorates its 50th founding anniversary this year.

He urged the attached agencies of the department such as the Philippine National Police (PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP, Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC and Local Government Academy (LGA to be active in the communication network and think creatively on their role on the region and the country's success.

We are harnessing all means for the local governments to reach all Filipino demographics, from interpersonal means of communication, community fora, barangay assemblies to the more sophisticated mass media of print, broadcast, electronic, and social media, Sueno said.

Helping all Filipinos identify ways in which they can be part of this integration process, add their voices to relevant dialogue in ASEAN and step up in their own initiatives will be part of local government's approach to fostering change at wider levels, he added.

The DILG has also committed that the ASEAN's future programs and activities under the ASEAN Strategic Plan for Information and Media 2016-2025 will be implemented at the grassroots level.

The 15th ASEAN SOMRI gathered 54 delegates from the 10 ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat.

The two-day event started on March 22, 2017 with an opening ceremony graced by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, the country's representative to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC; Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia; officials and officers of the host agency Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO; and members of the media.

This was immediately followed by a closed-door plenary session of the senior officials and their delegations until March 23, 2017.

Singapore will be host the 16th SOMRI and the 14th AMRI Conference next year.

Source: Philippines News Agency