The Palawan State University has spearheaded another crucial move to empower the BIMP-EAGA as today marked the second time that the school is hosting the BIMP-EAGA Conference. Guest of honor DTI Undersecretary Dr. Prudencio M. Reyes Jr. expressed support and elation at the turn-out for the three day event themed “Working together as One Sustainable ASEAN Community”, held at the A & A Plaza Hotel in Puerto Princesa.

“There is a need for more than money and proactive participation from academic institutions, simply because reliable data and information sources from the discipline of scientific research is essential for judicious regional planning and implementation. That is why in this regard, the ground breaking joint efforts to support EAGA policy by the Palawan State University and the Universiti Malaysia Sabah is highly laudable,” said the Philippine senior official whose long standing involvement with the BIMP-EAGA has outlived the term of the past few presidents of the republic.

“Moreover, the recent adoption of our sociocultural and educational pillar as BIMP-EAGA’s newest strategic pillar is a recognition and affirmation of the value of your ongoing contribution in laying the foundation for a greater social and cultural understanding among the diverse communities within the sub-region,” he continued.

The BIMP-EAGA initiative has had its fair share of challenges over the years, but the future holds promise as USec Reyes noted a number of key developments in his privilege speech. To begin with, he commended the private sector here in Palawan for taking the lead role in the expansion of trade and in strengthening people to people connectivity in EAGA. He also hinted at the possible re-opening of the air link between Puerto Princesa and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

It also seems that others outside the sub-region have taken significant notice of the economic initiative. USec Reyes was especially glad to share that the Northern Territory in Australia is in talks with the BIMP-EAGA resulting concretely into more social, cultural and educational exchanges, considering the rich cultural heritage and educational excellence of both sub-regions.

“The BIMP-EAGA’s private sector must establish an active role in establish networks with their Australian counterparts such as the Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce,” he suggested.

As such, the BIMP-EAGA has been invited to participate in the Northern Territory Business Festival slated for April 2016, where representatives from Palawan and the rest of the BIMP-EAGA stakeholders can look forward to the possibility of holding a business dialogue in this event.

Recently, the Directory for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) has just been published. With this, USec Reyes expressed his hopes for a similar directory to be created for the Sociocultural and Educational pillar of BIMP-EAGA, which certainly fits well not just with the PSU, but also with other such institutions found within the other participating countries namely Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

USec Reyes has made a resounding call for the academic institutions to realize its contributions to the Sociocultural and Educational pillar of BIMP-EAGA, while affirming that the single most important resource of BIMP-EAGA is its people. In conclusion he said, “I am deeply honored and elated that this 2015 BEC is happening now as our concrete response to this challenge. It is notable and promising to see this gathering of experts from the various schools of academic discipline who are willing and motivated to impart their knowledge and skills for the benefit of BIMP-EAGA and its people.”