Saturday, August 04, 2012

Deped Spearheads Celebration of ASEAN Week

From August 7 to 13, the Philippines, spearheaded by the Department of Education (Deped), will celebrate the ASEAN Week. This is compliance with Proclamation no. 1008, signed in 1997, enjoining government agencies to commemorate the founding date of ASEAN, the socio-economic and political organization by which the Philippines is not only a member, but also one of its founding fathers.

From the original five (5) member countries - the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - ASEAN now comprises a total of 10 member-states to include Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos & Myanmar.

East Timor is currently has an observer status and is aiming to be a full-pledged member in the immediate coming years. Papua New Guinea is also contending to become a member.

Formed in the midst of political turmoil in the Southeast Asia region, from the ill-anticipation of the Domino Effect Theory, to incessant territorial conflicts between and among member states such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, ASEAN was born on August 8, 1967 when five (5) foreign ministers sat down and signed the Bangkok Declaration in Bangkok, Thailand.

Prior to ASEAN, the five (5) aforementioned member-states were organized in the now-defunct Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and Association of Southeast Asia (ASA). The common fear of communism, distrust against foreign powers and the unified desire for nation-building had motivated the five (5) founding states to organized ASEAN.

Today, ASEAN is not only a very significant political organization in the world, but also had attained wide economic leverage due to significant economic gains by several of its member states and of course the collective economic consumer force that has potentialities similar to China.

The primary aims of ASEAN are:

  1. To accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian Nations;
  2. To promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter;
  3. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic, social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative fields;
  4. To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities in the educational, professional, technical and administrative spheres;
  5. To collaborate more effectively for the greater utilisation of their agriculture and industries, the expansion of their trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade, the improvement of their transportation and communications facilities and the raising of the living standards of their peoples;
  6. To promote Southeast Asian studies; and
  7. To maintain close and beneficial cooperation with existing international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes, and explore all avenues for even closer cooperation among themselves.


And promotes the following principles as the ASEAN Way:

  1. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
  2. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
  3. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
  4. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
  5. Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
  6. Effective cooperation among themselves.


It is most interesting to note that ASEAN is moving closer and closer to further integration with ASEAN Vision 2020 that has bold ambitions of unified political, social and economic systems that would be as integrated as the European Union, with a single currency and more cohesive political and territorial integration.

As one, ASEAN countries could better meet up to the challenges of the future in global political and economic environment.

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