PHL wants ASEAN to be more people-oriented, says social welfare chief

MANILA -- As the Philippines chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this 2017, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also leading the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), one of the ASEAN's three pillars.

As head of the ASCC, the DSWD, through Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, aims to help the ASEAN realize a more people-oriented and socially responsible orientation to foster greater solidarity and unity among peoples and member states of the ASEAN.

On Sunday, the ASEAN 2017 leadership of the Philippines will be launched in a ceremony in SM Lanang, SMX Convention Center in Davao City. President Rodrigo Duterte will lead the event, and as chair of the ASCC, Taguiwalo will also attend the event, along with other cabinet officials.

The ASEAN 2017 theme is "Partnering for change, engaging the world", and six priorities will be carried out:

1. A people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN;

2. Peace and stability in the region;

3. Maritime security in the region;

4. Inclusive, innovation-led growth;

5. Resilience; and

6. Making ASEAN a global player and a model of regionalism.

President Duterte will deliver the keynote address which will be the main part of the launch. Also to be launched are the ASEAN website and social media accounts; the P1 commemorative circulation coin for the Philippine ASEAN 2017 chairmanship; the Philippines' chairmanship of the ASEAN special stamps; and the Visit Asean@50 video.

"Our main goal as chair of the ASCC is to contribute to efforts to make the ASEAN more people-oriented and people-centered. Concretely, what we want is to bring the ASEAN closer to the people, and make it an institution that is responsive to the welfare and social needs of citizens in the member states, able to provide assistance and guidance when it can in furtherance of advocacies and actions that directly benefit the poor and vulnerable sectors," said Taguiwalo.

As host of the 2017 ASEAN, the Philippines wants to bring to the table issues and concerns that revolve around the necessity to promote and protect the rights of migrant issues, she said.

The rights of the vulnerable sectors of women, children, persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons, farmers, workers and fisher folk, among others, should also be addressed, she added.

"We want to make the ASEAN more relevant to the lives of poor and ordinary citizens by highlighting issues that concern them, with the end goal of forging agreements to uphold their welfare and improve their quality of life. There is no debate that poverty continues to be a serious problem for many of the member states of the ASEAN," Taguiwalo said.

She noted that the challenge to bring down poverty levels cuts across the entire ASEAN region. In the Philippines, she said, there is an urgent need to create more stable, productive jobs and means of employment for millions of underemployed and unemployed Filipinos.

"We hope that we can learn from the successful experiences of other ASEAN member states when it comes to generating steady livelihood opportunities for their people with the support of the government," the social welfare chief said.

"As the Philippines is largely agrarian with underdeveloped strategic industries, we need to come up with livelihood programs that link with other industries found in the country to make development organic and sustainable. We hope to refer to livelihood programs that link with other manufacturing industries, businesses and trade that are locally available and are substantially important for the ASEAN region." (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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