Clark, Subic prep up for ASEAN 2017

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    CLARK FREEPORT – Preparations are now thick for the holding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit’s 50th anniversary here in November as reported by Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director Ronnie Tiotuico.

    During the media forum “Talk Widus” organized by the Pampanga Press Club at the Widus Hotel and Casino here on Wednesday, Tiotuico said tourism seminars as well as enhancements for safety and security are now starting to be conducted as initiated by the ASEAN National Organizing Committee (NOC).

    He said hotels and similar establishments in this freeport and Angeles City are being prepped up for the anticipated 4,000 attendees of the ASEAN at 50 Summit.

    But the final venue of the ASEAN related summits will still be finalized next month after the controversial Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino here was ruled out as the venue by the NOC, Tiotuico said.

    He said if the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBEC) in Subic will be finally chosen as the venue, the DOT will shift its focus there. Tiotuico said SBEC can accommodate up to 10,000 persons.

    However, Tiotuico emphasized that “preand post-tours as well as airport assistance” will be their main focus during the ASEAN summits.

    “Starting next month and almost every month, ASEAN related summits will be held leading to the ASEAN Summit at the SMX Convention Center in Manila in November,” he said.

    Meanwhile, it will be the third time the country will be hosting the regional meet, after it was held in Manila in 1987 under President Cory Aquino and in Cebu in 2007 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The bloc’s chairmanship rotates annually, in alphabetical order of the names of the 10 member-states.

    President Duterte has announced that the ASEAN 2017 theme will be: “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

    Among the most anticipated talk during the summit will be the ASEAN’s pronouncement on the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in July, rejecting China’s claims on the South China Sea.

    It was reported that there was no mention of this in the chairman’s statement issued after the two-day summit in Laos.

    ASEAN leaders, as in previous summits, expressed concern over developments in the South China Sea and called for peaceful resolution of disputes.

    2017 marks the ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary. The Philippines is one of its five founding members, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Aside from the summits, the Philippines will also be staging events to celebrate the anniversary.

    As for Tiotuico, this could probably be his last assignment prior to his retirement in July when he turns 65.

    Tiotuico began his storied career in the tourism department during the time of Tourism Secretary Jose Aspiras under the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. It was during that time that he became part of the holding of the Miss Universe Pageant here won by Spain’s Amparo Muñoz.

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