By Jed Macapagal
Give credit where credit is dueThe recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 2017 summit is widely acknowledged as a resounding success. The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) led by Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar did a good job in making sure that information regarding ASEAN 2017 would be properly disseminated to media. The PCOO was the lead agency of the ASEAN 2017 Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC) which was in charge of setting up the International Media Center at the Conrad Hotel. The Media Center accommodated over a thousand local and international media personnel, with state-of-the-art equipment, high-speed internet, news rooms, comfortable lounges and, of course, food. The CMASC also provided media support, registration and accreditation for the meetings, and various communications activities to promote better appreciation of the goals and programs of ASEAN. They put up a website and opened several social media accounts as channels of information to promote strategic messaging direction and content for ASEAN 2017. These include over a hundred news and feature articles used in both mainstream and social media, as well as photo services. Media coverage reached a broader audience via livestreaming of the events handled by Radio-TV Malacañang (RTVM). In cooperation with the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts, they launched the official music video on ASEAN 2017. They also conducted school tours to promote awareness of ASEAN and the significance of Philippine chairmanship of the regional bloc that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Apart from these, they produced a digital show entitled, “#ASEAN2017 in Focus” to highlight the importance of the Philippine chairmanship of this year's event. PCOO also conducted roadshows around the country to explain to the public the ASEAN’s current thrusts and activities 50 years after its founding, how it is relevant to the people and how it can impact their daily lives especially in uplifting their economic situation. And to think that it had only six months to make the necessary preparations.
‘Rice stock still sufficient’But Guinigundo allayed fears of a possible uptick in rice prices amid the issues that hound the country’s rice importation, asserting that the country has ample supply until the end of harvest season. He said based on data from the PSA, the country’s rice inventory is still sufficient for 69 days. This rice buffer would be further augmented by the summer harvest, which will last until June. “We don’t believe rice prices will move up in a very significant way,” Guinigundo said during a briefing on the country’s first quarter 2017 inflation. Concerns of a possible rice inflation surfaced as Duterte decided to stop all rice importations in the country. Officials have also argued over rice import policies, whether to import through the private sector or through a government-to-government scheme. Guinigundo said the government also allows private sector importation through the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme, which is the country’s commitment to the World Trade Organization while its quantitative restriction on rice has not been lifted yet. In terms of the MAV, some of the rice imported by traders from abroad has not yet entered the country. “The decision of the council is to extend (MAV) to end-March 2017. But there were issues because some of the rice from abroad has not entered yet. Hopefully, this will be resolved soon so additional supply will be available and that will provide additional support to stability of rice prices,” he added.
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