In Bohol’s final hurrah, Gov. Edgar Chatto expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the personnel who steadfastly gave their effort to secure Bohol.
More than the prestige and trust, the hosting of the regional bloc’s meeting is a solid proof of the learnings and the excellent performance shown by the local organizing committee–which can be the top reason why Bohol has been repeatedly chosen as host.
After expecting only one meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) here, Bohol is going to host its fourth meeting, in relation to the country’s chairmanship of the regional bloc.
The province’s hosting of a fourth meeting shows the kind of trust and satisfaction the national organizing committee has on Bohol. Trusting Bohol despite some debacles, can be construed as a feather on the province’s cap.
The Philippines is the host and chairman of ASEAN 2017, which is also the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc.
On Friday, no less than 3,762 troops from various units from the region augmenting the existing units in Bohol were sent off for deployment Friday to secure the last meeting to be held in Bohol starting today and will end on November 30.
Philippine National Police Central Visayas head Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino sent off the troops at Panglao town plaza and gave last minute instructions.
Chatto graced the send off ceremonies which was the fourth time it happened in Bohol.
He said the efforts of Task Force Bohol made the province feel safer despite having visitors coming in. He expressed how he appreciates the effort of the task force in relation to keeping peace and order while Bohol hosts the meeting.
The ASEAN meeting centering on human rights will be staged at a resort in Panglao, which also hosted previous meetings held here.
About 200 delegates are expected to arrive in Bohol, as some will start to arrive a day before the event.
Brig. Gen. Arnulfo Matinguihan, deputy head of Task Force Bohol, said he is confident the forces will be able to secure the delegates and maintain peace and order during the meetings.
The send off was a traditional event being held prior to the staging of a huge international event.
Bohol has been placed on red alert as checkpoints will be set up in strategic locations.
No fly and no sail zones are also implemented. As security forces will be patrolling the coastline and waters near the meeting venue in Panglao town.
Forces from various police and military units were on hand during the send off ceremonies. Personnel from the Bureau of Fire Protection were also included in the personnel sent off for deployment.
ASEAN IS IN BOHOL’S HEART
More than the hosting, the ASEAN meeting greatly bolstered the ability of the province to host international conventions.
After the series of meetings, the provincial government came up with the idea of pushing the province as a convention destination.
The province has the manpower to stage an international meeting with event planners ready to assist the organizers.
At the same time, a platoon of trained liaison officers can be deployed to provide world-class assistance and convenience to the convention goers and organizers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs trained the liaison officers on the protocols prior to the first ASEAN meeting last April.
With the manpower in place, the only drawback is the dearth in the facilities.
Chatto is looking at the possibility of building a convention center. However, the mechanics and maintenance of the center remains a huge question mark.
The governor pointed out the huge investment and the effort to maintain a convention center.
There are some convention centers run by government that ultimately failed and went into disrepair–a classic example is the Cebu International Convention Center located in Mandaue City.
Nonetheless, the hosting of the ASEAN here did not only boost the potential of the province, but also gave significant lessons in developing a key tourism industry vertical that can generate more jobs and push the economy of the province.
The fourth meeting will be led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and will center on human rights.
The three other meetings tackled trade, maritime security and taxation in the region.
Each meeting was a significant step towards ASEAN integration, which Bohol has become a solid part of.
With the last meeting, the next time the Philippines will step into the ASEAN home-plate will be in 2027 and the next time, Bohol will be, perhaps, more than ready to host not just four but a lot more meetings.