ASEAN integration: Issues and challenges
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 8, 2014 - 12:00am

The other day, this writer was the guest speaker in the FOURTH VISAYAS CONGRESS OF HUMAN RESOURCE PRACTITIONERS, under the auspices of the Civil Service Commission, Regional Office 7. Thousands of delegates coming from both the public sector, (which includes HR directors and department heads of national and local agencies of government managing people) as well as from the private organizations, (representing HR executives from manufacturing, sales, marketing, services establishments, academic institutions, agencies and NGO's, PO's and social organizations and associations) as well as international and global organizations are attending. The topic is: ASEAN INTEGRATION: ITS ISSUES AND CHALLENGES, AND HRD AS DRIVER OF ECONOMIC GROWTH.

My messages were clear: First, the Philippines is a well-respected and recognized charter member of ASEAN. We signed the Bangkok Declaration on August 8, 1967. Our country has, since then, been the leading light in integrating Southeast Asian nation in order to strengthen our economic condition against the emerging challenges of the times, where China and India were already predicted to dominate this side of the world. Our Foreign Affairs Secretary then Narciso Ramos (the father of Pres FVR and Sen Letecia Ramos-Shahani ), together with Indonesia's Adam Malik (who later became his country's vice president and SecGen of the UN) and  Malaysia's Tunku Abdul Razak  (later Prime Minister, and the father of the incumbent PM Datuk Sri Najib Razak), were the prime movers of ASEAN.

Second, aside from the original five: (SMITHPHIL), which are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, five more joined ( VICAMLAB ) Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos PDR, and Brunei Darussalam. The eleventh applicant and on observer status is East Timor.  Third, what are the emerging opportunities from the ASEAN integration? There will be a borderless territory of 650 million people, with a combined gross domestic product of no less than 1.4 trillion US dollars. A vast market for our goods and for our superior human capital in terms of multiple competencies: intellectual, emotional, social, and communication skills, the ability of our people to navigate across multi-cultures, languages, and geographic locations, and above all, strength in character: perseverance in the face of multiple crises: man-made or natural.

Fourth, what are the issues and challenges: as a destination for investment, the Philippines suffers in comparison to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and even Vietnam in terms of inadequacy of infrastructures. Investors from Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Antartica are hesitant to put their money into our country because our airports are one of the worst in the world, our seaports are overcrowded, our cities are often besieged by typhoons, floods and earthquakes. Our traffic is horrendous and our policemen are involved in kidnapping, hold up, extortions, drug trafficking, and even rape. They do not want to come here because of corruption and our regressive tax system. Above all, our bureaucracy is perceived to be inept, inefficient, lacking in urgency and unfriendly to business, at times, corrupt and graft-laden.

attyjosephusbjimenez@yahoo.com

ADAM MALIK BANGKOK DECLARATION BRUNEI DARUSSALAM CHINA AND INDIA CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION DATUK SRI NAJIB RAZAK EAST TIMOR MIDDLE EAST NARCISO RAMOS OUR FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY PRIME MINISTER
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