May 30, 2016

“Civil servants are the prime movers of establishing an ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Community. There is now a greater need for them to understand what it means to be part of a much larger citizenry.”
 
The significant role of civil servants in ASEAN integration was stressed by Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala during a panel discussion on the topic “Transitioning towards ASEAN Integration” at the recently held Public Sector HR Symposium at the Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City.

Chairperson Bala was joined by Dr. Piyawat Sivaraks of Thailand’s Office of the Civil Service Commission and Dr. Anis bin Mahmud @ Abdul Samad of Malaysia’s Public Service Department at the panel discussion moderated by former senator Dr. Orlando S. Mercado, who is now Secretary General of the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA).
 
“While the political and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN are not given much ‘conversation space’, I believe that the gains that have been made so far under the economic pillar are the result of initiatives of civil servants from the other two sectors,” said Bala.
 
She cited how cooperation among leaders and civil servants of ASEAN Member States (AMS) have specifically helped avert the spread of infectious diseases in the region, facilitated the speedy provision of assistance to Typhoon Yolanda victims in 2013, and increased knowledge sharing on climate change management—efforts which ultimately contributed to a stronger, more resilient ASEAN economic environment.
 
Chairperson Bala stated that the low level of awareness among Filipinos, especially among government employees, must be addressed. For the CSC, this meant issuing a memorandum circular urging the different government agencies to celebrate ASEAN Day every 8th of August, and to sing the ASEAN Anthem and wear ASEAN-inspired attire on the first Monday of every month.
 
Moreover, the CSC continuously works to strengthen ties with its AMS counterparts through the ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM), which was established in 1981 to serve as a platform for the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices in public service management in the ASEAN. The Philippines has taken on the chairmanship of the 18th ACCSM from 2015 to 2016.