As the Philippines assumes the ASEAN chairmanship this year, the government will officially launch the ASEAN 2017 in Davao City on January 15 to raise awareness regarding the country's summit hosting and its benefits, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
"As the Philippines assumes chairmanship of the ASEAN 2017 which also coincides with its 50th year anniversary, our stride is wade by a sense of pride and excitement as we step into the century and the world hand in hand," he said at a press briefing in MalacaAan on Thursday.
"We will officially launch ASEAN 2017 at the Davao SMX Convention Center and PCOO has partnered with different government agencies led by the Department of Tourism to create a memorable event that will set the tone to this important year-long commitment," he added.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) will be the lead committee on media affairs and communications to spread awareness and educate the public about the ASEAN, Andanar said.
While 81 percent of ASEAN citizens have heard of the regional grouping, only 24 percent have a basic understanding of what it is and its purpose, he explained, over people's lack of awareness.
To inform the public, the PCOO plans to conduct roadshows all over the country and carry out those events throughout the year.
ASEAN representatives from PCOO will deliver talks, conduct seminars, and even distribute comics and other reading materials written in different Philippine dialects, according to Andanar.
Among the ASEAN 2017's priorities include people-oriented and people-centered initiatives, peace and stability, maritime security and cooperation, inclusive and innovative-led growth, ASEAN resiliency and ASEAN as model of regionalism.
The ASEAN 2017 theme for this year is, "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World."
The PCOO will also provide media coverage logistics for the ASEAN launch in Davao City on January 15, the 30th ASEAN Summit on April 2017, the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings coinciding with ASEAN's 50th anniversary celebration in Metro Manila by August and the 31st ASEAN Summit in Clark, Pampanga in November, Andanar said.
Also during the same press briefing, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Enrique Manalo said the issue of the South China Sea will be in the ASEAN 2017 agenda during the country's hosting.
ASEAN members will be undertaking ongoing work throughout the year focusing on the unfinished Code of Conduct of the South China Sea and the Declaration of the Code of Conduct and the principles of the Code of Conduct, Manalo explained.
"In fact, one of our main goals this year in cooperation with China, not only Philippines but ASEAN and China, is to try and arrive at a framework for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea by the end of the year, that will be one of our main priorities," he said.
Aside from hosting the ASEAN Summits, the Philippines will also organize the ASEAN Plus Three, and the East Asia Summit with ASEAN's dialogue partners, according to Manalo.
Asked about the country's benefits from its ASEAN hosting, Manalo said the Philippines gains economically from a stronger ASEAN economy.
In terms of social welfare, there will be greater participation of the citizenry not only for the Philippines but for the entire region, he said, adding the Philippines' hosting also expands its influence not only in the region but beyond.
The country also benefits in the area of security, combatting drugs, terrorism, and violent extremism as a result of enhanced cooperation among ASEAN member countries, he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency