29 March 2017 | Bacolod City

54 delegates from the ten ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat were in attendance at the 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials Responsible for Information (SOMRI).

The 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials Responsible for Information (SOMRI) was concluded in Bacolod City, Philippines, with 54 delegates from the ten ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat in attendance.

The two-day event started on March 22, 2017 with an Opening Ceremony graced by Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno, the country’s representative to the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC); Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia; officials and officers of the host agency Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO); and members of the media. This was immediately followed by the closed-door plenary session of the senior officials and their delegations until March 23, 2017.

Inter-Pillar Coordination

Among the Meeting’s highlights was the SOMRI’s discussions on mechanisms to institute linkages with all the three ASEAN Community Pillars – ASEAN Political Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community – and their sectoral bodies, pursuant to the directives of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) to ensure effective promotion of ASEAN awareness, unity and centrality.

Part of this was looking into the framework and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint 2025 relevant to the information sector that will contribute to communication and promotion support.

Outcome-Based Monitoring and Evaluation System

SOMRI Leaders also discussed the progress of the ASEAN information sector in implementing the ASEAN Strategic Plan for Information and Media 2016-2025, one year since its adoption by the AMRI in March 2016. It was noted that the sector has already initiated/conducted or lined up activities and projects to address all of the priority action lines under the Strategic Plan.

SOMRI also initiated discussions on the development of an outcome-based system for monitoring and evaluating the information sector’s activities and determining their effectiveness, especially on heightening awareness and understanding of ASEAN and its relevance.

The Meeting also tackled the following agenda:

  1. Initiatives and priority areas of the three SOMRI Working Groups – (a) ASEAN Digital Broadcasting, (b) Content and Production, and (c) Information, Media and Training for the promotion of ASEAN’s work and the development of the region’s information and media sector.
  2. The next phase of the ASEAN Communication Master Plan and the complementary National Communication Plans of the Member States for heightening awareness of ASEAN and its relevance and benefits
  3. Progress of work plans and strengthening of cooperation between ASEAN and Dialogue Partner countries including China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India and Russia.

Undersecretary Noel George Puyat of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), the chairperson of the 15th SOMRI, thanked his counterparts for a productive meeting.

“I congratulate my fellow senior officials for their dedication in creating the ASEAN identity and making sure, through proper policies and programs, that everyone benefits from our unity and centrality as a region,” Puyat explained.

He added, “We are basically the support service of the three ASEAN pillars. We will know our work is effective if citizens of ASEAN Member States can answer questions about their neighboring countries and the positive effects of membership within ASEAN.”

Puyat said, “If a student is able to know they have opportunities to study abroad because of ASEAN; or if an ASEAN traveler has access to other AMS’ with Visa-less entry, then we have done our job which is at the most basic level to raise awareness and participation of citizens of every Member Nation.”

“Knowledge is power. If every citizen participates in ASEAN programs and maximize the opportunities for the betterment of their lives, then this has a positive effect in the region.” Puyat concluded.

Singapore will be hosting the 16th SOMRI in 2018, back-to-back with the 14th AMRI Conference.


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