Manila, Philippines (17 August) – As the nation celebrates the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN Month this August, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) called for stronger regional cooperation as ASEAN Member States continue to cope with the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we wish to celebrate the 53rd year of ASEAN with a festive spirit, the need for solidarity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is much stronger. This challenge has brought our hearts and minds closer together as we hope for each ASEAN Member State and all other nations to fully recover from this crisis,” said CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala.

“This time calls for a deeper commitment in pursuing our vision as one ASEAN to strengthen our ties as a caring and sharing community,” she added.

The pandemic has also put the spotlight on the critical role of the civil service as bureaucracies try to navigate the “new normal” in the workplace, marked by more flexible working arrangements, digitization of public services, and greater emphasis on occupational safety and health.

“The CSC hopes to work with its counterparts in the ASEAN in looking at ways how we can use the lessons we are learning from this pandemic toward better management of our respective civil services and the improvement of public service delivery in the region,” said Chairperson Bala.

ACCSM

The CSC has continuously strengthened ties with its counterpart civil service agencies in the region through the ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM). Its roots can be traced back to 1981 when the ASEAN Conference on Reforms in Civil Service was established. Once every two years, civil service agencies would gather for information exchange, mentoring, and partnering activities that aim to promote effective cooperation and mutual assistance in public sector capacity building among ASEAN Member States.

The ACCSM led efforts toward the signing of a landmark declaration elevating the civil service as a “catalyst” in achieving the ASEAN’s development goals. On the occasion of the 30th ASEAN Summit in April 2017 in Manila, Philippines, leaders of ASEAN’s 10 Member States signed the ASEAN Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

The declaration recognizes “the significance of the civil service as the backbone of good governance in the region, and its critical mission not only in providing vital public services to the people of ASEAN, but also in driving national and social development.”

The declaration also tasked the ACCSM to take the lead in realizing the goals to “raise the professional standards and capability of civil servants,” “ensure that the civil services of ASEAN embrace good governance principles such as citizen-centricity and innovation”, and “uphold and protect the welfare of civil servants in the region,” among others.

Currently among the initiatives in the ACCSM’s pipeline is the development of ASEAN Guidelines on Public Service Delivery, which would provide ASEAN Member States common guiding principles for improving the quality of public service delivery.