‘Tacloban Declaration’ up at Manila meet

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REPRESENTATIVES of regional and international organizations from 36 countries in Asia and Europe and some 150 senior national and local government officials and professionals will meet in Manila for the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Conference with the aim of forging the “Tacloban Declaration.”

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In a radio interview on Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the conference will run from June 4 to 6 with the theme “Post-Haiyan—A Way Forward.”

“Prior to the plenary conference, the ASEM delegates will visit Tacloban City [Leyte] to meet with local government officials and NGO leaders. The delegates will also visit Bislig Elementary School in Tanauan, Leyte and then to Barangay [village]Pago, which is the site of a resettlement project for families displaced by typhoon Yolanda,” Coloma said.

Haiyan was the international code name of Yolanda, probably the world’s strongest typhoon that hit thePhilippines in November 2013.

By hosting the event, Coloma said, the Philippines aims to contribute to the new global architecture that will embody new policies and principles on disaster risk-reduction management (DRRM) with the ASEM Manila Conference document to be called the “Tacloban Declaration.”

“This is a timely development considering that the decade-old Hyogo Framework of Action [HFA] previously adopted by ASEM as the global paradigm on DRRM is about to end in 2015,” the Palace official added.

Joining the team of international experts are local scientists, academicians, policymakers, industry and business leaders, non-government organizations (NGOs) and leaders from the private sector.

Other dignitaries attending the conference are European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Crisis Kristalina Georgieva; Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction Margareta Wahlstrom; and Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Agriculture Hoàng Vãn Th?ng.

“Also to be examined and discussed during the Manila Conference are the following: application of innovation, science and technology to policy practice; strengthening the role of the state and other disaster risk-reduction management stakeholders in disaster response and coordination; improving the international response system through specialization and coordination; and recovering from disasters and building back better communities,” Coloma said.

The ASEM Conference is a Philippine initiative, which President Benigno Aquino 3rd announced during the 9th ASEM Summit held in Vientiane, Laos, in November 2012. The initiative has been adopted by 49 heads of state and government, the president of the European Union and the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that comprise ASEM.

President Aquino will be the keynote speaker on June 5. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin will be making plenary statements during the conference.

They will be joined by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, National Economic and Development Authority Director-General Arsenio Balisacan, Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro and Secretary Panfilo Lacson of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Recovery and Rehabilitation.

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