ASEAN Brotherhood

Whenever ASEAN is being raised in discussions and conversations, we can only think of the brotherhood of the 10 countries involved. Since its establishment in 2003, the council has focused on having a stronger economic development for the region. Today, on its 14th anniversary and ASEAN’s 50th anniversary, we are bringing inclusive prosperity for all.

During the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Welcome Dinner last January 25, I shared the importance of having the same vision with President Duterte. For the past months and even before being elected, the President has been vocal in his plans to improve the lives of the Filipinos. And in ASEAN BAC, that is also our goal: to improve the lives of all members of the ASEAN community.

It is indeed a great challenge to help those at the bottom of the pyramid. As I said during the dinner, “Without the private and public sectors working together, the challenge of creating work for others is close to impossible.” But with the help of the key players such as the conglomerates, we can start the work towards prosperity.

When we launched the Go Negosyo Mentor Me program, the plan is to implement it to all the Negosyo Centers of the Department of Trade and Industry. Now, the Department of Agriculture has also adopted the program which aims to empower the farmers, fishermen and other agri-entrepreneurs. Moving forward with ASEAN, the ASEAN BAC has also established a mentoring program entitled ASEAN Mentors-Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) which will create a greater mentorship in the region. Former awardees of the ASEAN Business Awards will form part of the network as a start.

Aside from these, we are also banking on the potential of agriculture as the game changer. We always say that the Philippines is a land of agricultural treasures. We also have our neighboring countries who have banked on their agriculture sector such as Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. With the help of the agri-mentors from these countries, we can help alleviate this sector in our country, applying the techniques and establishing the infrastructure of other countries.

“If we want to help those in the bottom of the pyramid, this is our chance of helping the President. We have six years with the President and our friends in ASEAN to bring about greater change in the region”, I shared.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernie Abella also attended the ASEAN BAC Welcome Dinner to talk in behalf of the President. He shared the expanded mandate which are: highly integrated and cohesive economy; comprehensive, innovative, and dynamic ASEAN; enhanced connectivity and sectoral cooperation; and a resilient, inclusive, people-oriented, and people-centered ASEAN.

When ASEAN Philippine Chairmanship was launched in Davao last January 15, President Duterte mentioned the importance of giving “a truly better life” for all ASEAN citizens. Sec. Abella reiterated this by saying that the true agenda of the President is “the well being of people, which can only be achieved if everyone acts for the common good.”

Sec. Abella said, “It takes more than just power, wealth, or ethics. It takes all three working together to create a nation we can all believe in.”

He also shared that the president is not just about law and order but also about inclusive prosperity which includes giving people an access to the services such as housing, education, health care, social welfare, transport, electricity and energy, water, and sanitation and refuse and waste removal.

In addition, the concept of social enterprises was also raised to which Sec. Abella said, “what works for people is good for business, and what is good for business is what works for the people.”

Lastly, Sec. Abella said, “We all build our nations and region worthy of our people and our people worthy of our nations and ASEAN.”

Aside from Sec. Abella, DTI Undersecretary Nora Terrado who chairs the committee on business and investment promotions enumerated the programs of DTI for the ASEAN chairmanship this year. These programs include ASEAN MSME Mentorship Summit, ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit, ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Carnival, Slingshot, ASEAN Women Summit and many more. These are just few of the exciting programs for this year.

Jayant Menon, Lead Economist (Trade and Regional Cooperation) of the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department of Asian Development Bank presented the ASEAN Economic Community and the Evolving Regional Architecture which discusses the major progress, promising developments, challenges, and the critical steps for ASEAN.

Dr. Enrico L. Basilio Chief of Party of the USAID COMPETE Project Advisor talked about the ASEAN RORO Initiative which is a Philippine initiative program and a legacy project of ASEAN. The first RORO link of this network will be between the Philippines and Indonesia.

The ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs Council led by Rommel Gerodias also had their Manila declaration during the dinner.

The dinner was attended by many of our entrepreneurs and advocates which include Sen. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Sonny Angara, Cong. John Bertiz, Manny Pangilinan, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Washington Sycip, Tony Meloto, Erramon Aboitiz, and many more.

We look forward to another insightful events in this year’s ASEAN Philippine chairmanship.