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Silliman hosts symposium on ASEAN

Celia E. Acedo | Adviser

Silliman University  played host to the regional symposium, “Beyond ASEAN@50: Opportunities and Challenges for Regional Integration,” held Monday, November 20, at the CBA building.

Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, SU Vice President for Academic Affairs, welcomed the delegates in behalf of the University.

The symposium was organized by Silliman University College of Business Administration, Philippine APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] Study Center Network (PASCN), and Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Dr. Gloria G. Futalan, Dean of the SU College of Business Administration, represents Silliman in the PASCN, an organization created by Administrative Order 303 by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996 to promote research on APEC-related issues.

Silliman researchers Wilma Tejero of the SU Economics Department and Dr. Enrique Oracion, Dean of SU Graduate Programs, joined PASCN and PIDS scholars in presenting papers at the symposium. The topics included technology liberalization, Filipino awareness of ASEAN, income inequality among ASEAN, and disaster risk reduction.

Tejero’s paper was based on her collaborative research with Dr. Jinyoung Hwang, professor at the Department of Economics at Hannam University in South Korea, where Tejero is currently studying for a doctorate in economics. They studied the data of income convergence and divergence among rich and poor nations in Asia and ASEAN over long periods from 1975 and 2015.

Tejero and Hwang wrote, “It is observed that the influence of externalities (openness, improved human capital, higher investments, size of government) due to economic integration among countries in the Asian region is not yet too significant to effect economic convergence in income levels among these nations.”

But still the authors recommended that “emerging countries (like Philippines and Vietnam) must take advantage of the benefits of integration by strengthening these factors (capital formation, trade liberalization, human capital and size of government) so as to push further the rate of increase of income level leading toward economic convergence in the Asian region.”

Tejero and Hwang’s paper was presented by Orlando Roncesvalles, visiting professor of economics at Silliman and former assistant treasurer of the International Monetary Fund.

The study by Dr. Sheila V. Siar of PIDS measured the level of awareness of the Filipino people on ASEAN, their perceived problems confronting the Philippines and ASEAN, as well as their aspirations and hopes for ASEAN—using online and paper survey and focused group discussions in the research.

Siar said the results reveal “moderate familiarity about ASEAN as well as modest identification as ASEAN citizens… There is a general sentiment that ASEAN is beneficial for the country, albeit only moderately…Media coverage of ASEAN is perceived to be inadequate.

She reported further, “The study validates the most immediate concerns being faced by the Philippines today, notably affordable internet connections, poverty, corruption, agriculture and food security, and energy provision and price.

“The most pressing regional-level concerns are climate change and natural disasters, territorial and maritime disputes, trade and investment issues, agriculture and food security, and income disparity and social inequality.”

Justin Raymond S. Eloriaga of De La Salle University in his paper recommended for trade liberalization of technology among ASEAN, saying this would lead to lessening the digital divide between rich and poor, and consequently of income inequality. In practical terms his policy recommendations are: “making public Wi-Fi accessible through public-private partnership in the ASEAN, promoting software literacy through basic software education in the Basic Education Curriculum, trade liberalization through lowering of technology importations customs tax, trade barriers on technological goods and telecommunications tax.”

Finally, Dr. Oracion in his paper recommended that the kinship network in Philippine culture, in which family members take care of their own, can be a potential source of assistance in disaster-stricken communities in the Philippines—one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

Oracion compared “the dynamics of extending assistance during periods of crisis such as food scarcity due to the cropping cycle or crop failure caused by natural calamities (in both) indigenous and contemporary rural communities.”

He found that “The two communities similarly demonstrate that inter-household sharing of food and other resources is adaptive and an inherent element of Filipino culture, and integrating the concept of kinship networking in disaster risk reduction management will enhance disaster preparedness and harmonize relief distribution in situations where panic and confusion prevail between the humanitarian groups and the devastated local people.”

Also present at the symposium were Alfred Kristoffer A. Guiang, Principal Assistant, Office of ASEAN Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Erlinda M. Medalla, Project Director, PASCN; and Dr. Francis Mark A. Quimba, Research Fellow, PIDS. – By Celia E. Acedo, SU Research and Environmental News Service

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