Walking His Talk: Romulo Gives More Focus on Education amid ASEAN Integration

0
14
Cong. Ronam Romulo (R) with wife Shalani (L)
Cong. Roman Romulo (R) with wife Shalani (L)

by Homerun Nievera, via SouthofMetro.com |

This year 2015, moving forward with the ASEAN Integration has begun.

This means that ten countries in Southeast Asia plan to launch a single market for goods, services, capital and labor, which has the potential to be one of the largest economies and markets in the world.

Congressman Roman Romulo, in his speech last year during the “27th Annual National Conference and International Forum on Outcomes-Based Quality Assurance” of the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP), he said that the ASEAN Integration shall open more opportunities for Filipino skilled workers. Congressman Romulo stressed that the rich human capital of the Philippines is a big advantage over ASEAN neighbors such that enriching the Filipinos’ educational base will match the region’s needed skills. Soon, he said, working in other SEAN countries will be just like working in Manila for those coming from Visayas and Mindanao.

Ano po ang epekto nito sa atin? Dalawang bagay po. Maaaring magbukas ang ASEAN Integration ng higit na oportunidad para sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa ating skilled workers. Lalawak po ang pagpipilian sa pagtatrabaho. Dahil mayaman ang Pilipinas sa human capital, napakalaking oportunidad po para sa atin ito kung mapagyayaman natin ang ating mga mag-aaral para umangkop ang kanilang kaalaman at kasanayan sa pangangailangan ng rehiyon. Hindi po magtatagal, ang pagtatrabaho sa ating mga karatig-bansa ay parang pagtatrabaho na lang ng mga taga-Visayas o Mindanao sa Maynila. — Cong. Roman Romulo

The good congressman, who is on his last term as representative of the Lone District of Pasig City in the Philippines, has looked into the education sector as one of the most important areas of development for the Philippines to take advantage of for the ASEAN integration. This, he said, is due to the reversal of opportunities wherein talent from the ASEAN countries can come into the Philippines and compete for top jobs as well. He sees the need for educational institutions to step-up and further increase the quality of education and enable skills that match job opportunities in the ASEAN region. Most of these skills are in the technology, engineering, and medical fields.

For his part, Congressman Romulo,  to be able to help push quality education down to the masses, has authored and pushed the passage into law of three vital bills: the Iskolar Ng Bayan Act (R.A. 10648), the Open Distance Learning Act (R.A. 10650), and the Ladderized Education Act (R.A.10647).

Wait, there’s more.

Another bill, the UniFAST bill, was recently approved during the bicameral conference committee composed of lawmakers from the House of Representatives and the Senate. It will be submitted to the plenary session of both chambers for final approval after which it goes to Malacañang for the signature of President Aquino before it becomes a law. UniFAST stands for United Student Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education.

Two other bills have already been passed on third reading and are awaiting concurrent action from the Senate. These are the Voluntary Student Loan Program bill and the Campus Safety and Security bill.

Congressman Romulo has indeed been working hard to bridge the gap on education and has continued to champion its cause. He has walked the talk. Still, he has chosen to keep silent on his achievements and has instead allowed students to reap the harvest.

More is expected from Congressman Romulo. With him being on hist last term as a representative, it is no wonder many have been clamoring for him to run for the Senate — a post familiar to him with his father, the Hon. Senator Alberto Romulo — having occupied the said post.

* * *

On a quick glance, here are 12 things to know about the ASEAN Economic Community as summarized by the Asian Development Bank:

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is intensifying efforts to realize the ASEAN Economic Community and implement the initiatives to achieve a single market and production base, allowing the free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor, and the freer movement of capital across the region.
    Source: Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, 24th ASEAN Summit, 11 May 2014.
  2. If ASEAN were one economy, it would be seventh largest in the world with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.4 trillion in 2013. It could be fourth largest by 2050 if growth trends continue.
    Source: ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector, speech by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff, 23 June 2014 in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.
  3. With over 600 million people, ASEAN’s potential market is larger than the European Union or North America. Next to the People’s Republic of China and India, ASEAN has the world’s third largest labor force that remains relatively young.
    Source: ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector, speech by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff, 23 June 2014 in Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany.
  4. ASEAN is one of the most open economic regions in the world, with total merchandise exports of over $1.2 trillion – nearly 54% of total ASEAN GDP and 7% of global exports.
    Source: ADB publication ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community
  5. Created in 1967 mainly for political and security reasons, ASEAN is today a successful model for regionalism, widely recognized globally.
    Source: ADB publication ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community
  6. On its 40th anniversary in 2007, ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, which advanced the completion target to 2015 from 2020.
    Source: Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, Singapore, 20 November 2007.
  7. The ASEAN Economic Community is defined by four pillars: (i) creating a single market and production base, (ii) increasing competitiveness, (iii) promoting equitable economic development, and (iv) further integrating ASEAN with the global economy.
    Source: Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, Singapore, 20 November 2007.
  8. In November 2007, ASEAN leaders also approved the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Strategic Framework and Work Plan (2009-15), which is meant to bridge the perceived “development divide” between the older and economically more advanced members – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, known as the ASEAN-6, and the four newer ones – Cambodia (1999), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (1997), Myanmar (1997), and Viet Nam (1995).
    Source: ADB publication The ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress
  9. As of October 2013, 279 measures (79.7%) of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint have been implemented.
    Source: Chairman’s Statement of the 23rd ASEAN Summit, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, 9 October 2013.
  10. Under the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff scheme has brought down tariff rates on goods coming from ASEAN members to virtually zero for ASEAN-6. The four new ASEAN members have until 2015 to reduce their tariff.
    Source: ADB publication The ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress
  11. While progress has been made in lowering tariffs and some behind-the-border economic hurdles, non-tariff barriers remain as major impediments to achieving a single market by 2015. The liberalization of trade in services has also been slow despite the industry’s growing importance in the region.
    Source: ADB publication The ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress
  12. An ADB Institute study finds that that the ASEAN Economic Community should be considered a stepping stone to deeper integration. With the appropriate policy mix, ASEAN could triple per capita income by 2030, raising its citizens’ quality of life to levels enjoyed today by members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
    Source: ADB publication ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community