Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian said the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) has a crucial role in building an ‘inclusive and equitable’ Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. In his speech during the 29th ASCC Meeting in Bali, Indonesia on Monday, Gatchalian said the ASCC aims to contribute to the development of a people-oriented and socially responsible ASEAN Community that promotes enduring solidarity and unity among its peoples and member states. ‘The ASCC has a crucial role in ensuring that we build a community that is inclusive and equitable, one that empowers all our citizens and leaves no one behind. To achieve this, we must focus on enhancing education and skills development, promoting social welfare and development, strengthening social protection, and creating a more people-centered ASEAN community,’ he said. Gatchalian, the Philippine ASCC leader, led the country’s delegation to the event, which is only a couple days before the 42nd ASEAN Summit to be held on May 10-12 in Labuan Baju, Indonesia. During the ASCC Meeting, Gatchalian and other high-level officials extended their full support to Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship with its theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.” Gatchalian underscored the need to develop human capital and promote social progress, alongside economic growth. ‘As we move towards recovery from the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, it is essential that we rebuild better and create a more resilient society. The ASCC can play a significant role in this by working closely with other ASEAN pillars to develop cross-sectoral initiatives that promote sustainable development and contribute to regional stability,’ he said. The ASCC Meeting focused on three priorities: ASEAN Matters, Epicentrum of Growth, and Implementation of ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The 29th ASCC Meeting intends to realize these priorities, with a particular focus on the ASCC Pillar, including strengthening regional health architecture, empowering villages to fast-track rural development, promoting environmental cooperation, protecting ASEAN migrant workers, and enhancing the capacity of workers for the Future of Work, as well as strengthening disability-inclusive development. The attendees shared their views on the importance of engaging civil society and vulnerable groups, strengthening people-to-people ties and ASEAN Identity, youth empowerment, strengthening regional health architecture, and emphasizing a cross-sectoral and cross-pillar perspective in addressing future issues, among other topics. The meeting also highlighted the strategic direction of ASEAN as the Epicentrum of Growth and the ASCC Post-2025 Vision towards ASEAN 2045. The ASCC looked forward towards the adoption of four outcome documents, including the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on One Health Initiative, ASEAN Declaration on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Family Members in Crisis Situations, ASEAN Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers, and ASEAN Leaders’ Joint Statement on the Establishment of an ASEAN Villages Network.
Source: Philippines News Agency