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Cartoon Editorial

THE 10-NATION ASEAN  is home to 600 million people. The region is part of Asia a region which by 2030- will house 75% of the world’s Middle Class.

By this year, the ten nations, namely, the Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia,Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, will open their markets by simplifying procedures and basically lowering tariffs  making it cheaper for these nationalities to get goods and services from one another.   

How will the ASEAN integration affect some of our industries?

The Philippine tourism  industry made some US$ 4.69 Billion last year. Projections for 2014-2016 forecast that ASEAN travelers will average 102 million every year. A huge market.


For tourism, it is both a challenge and opportunity for RP. It could draw Filipinos to cheaper tour sites in the ASEAN so that strategic “twinnings” or package tours for two countries is now  being seriously studied.  Say, for example,  a  Bohol and Thailand  package. The 384 tour operators in the Philippines will have to create some “synergism” with their ASEAN counterparts to maintain competitiveness.

The local tourists could start wringing their heads towards other reasonably priced  Asean tourist havens. On the other hand,  the integration also creates a wide new market for vaunted Philippine sites like Bohol – to attract a huge regional market.How do we market?

An independent study indicated that when countries have  more liberal visa rules, there was a marked increase in the number of  tourists going to  naturally attractive tour areas. For instance, such a visa liberalization is supposed to hike by 6-10 million – additional tourists to and among the ASEANs.

Bohol, therefore, badly needs the Panglao international airport  to bring the ASEANs straight to Bohol without passing through the lousy NAIA airport (one of the world’s worst)  and the horrible traffic in Manila and Cebu . The Tagbilaran city airport must be upgraded immediately as the ASEAN integration starts this year, already. Our Tagbilaran city  sea port likewise  needs massive rehabilitation.

Needless to say, prices of tourist resorts, restaurants land travel in Bohol  must even become more competitive and tour workers  here more professional and world-class.We are now competing with the whole ASEAN region.  A sine qua non , is that Bohol “peace and order” situation must remain impeccable.

What about real estate? There is the pressing charter changes on economic matters  being hatched at the Lower House  that will allow foreigners to own land in the Philippines. If that is passed by the senate and becomes an organic law, prices of land everywhere will rise , including those in Bohol. ASEAN foreign investors will be coming in and  looking.


Without that new law , Bohol real estate can still  get some “spill over” effect  on real estate with the enormous growth rate  being enjoyed now by neighboring Cebu.


It is the agriculture  sector  that the country will face  the most negative telling effects. It is because of the problem of  the  very low productivity of our agri products  shown by the fact that while  30% of Filipinos are engaged in agriculture –  agriculture only accounts for  a very low 12% of the nation’s GDP ( Gross Domestic Product).

Bohol, on the one hand, prides itself that it is a net “exporter”  of rice to other provinces because we produce more than we consume of rice. Fine. But it is a fact that Thailand and Vietnam rice is much cheaper than the best we can  ever produce. With the lowering of tariffs , do our rice farmers have a chance? Today the country remains 56% dependent on imported rice while it spends P 4-B a year to subsidize the NFA.

For how long will that remain tenable and logical to do? While we need more irrigation dams- to increase rice production productivity-  there is a P12-Billion  “lump sum” budget  included in  the 2015 GAA for “dams” without specifics. Is this how seriously we take our rice productivity? How can Pinoy farmers compete?


A large hectarage of Bohol is planted with aging coconut trees with only a P25,000 income per hectare bringing many to levels under the poverty line. It is , therefore, important that the P75-Billion Coco Levy Fund (freed by the Supreme Court for the farmers’ direct usage)  must be immediately used to rehabilitate sick plantations, distribute high yield coco  varieties, do intense research and mechanize the production of coco by -products for the industry  to stand a chance.

Without that and with  cheap-costing  coconut products (especially oil) produced abroad- what is the future , honestly, of the coconut industry including the one in Bohol?


The Philippines has a huge population of over 100 million people – and very young one at  an average age of 23 years old. It is an attractive market for ASEAN companies needing market share, Do our industries stand a chance against these cheap ASEAN goods and services?

Finally, the country has been named the fifth  most “mineralised”  country in the world. Much of our minerals are undeveloped due to the huge capital investments not within the reach of even the richest Philippine industrialists.

Will cheap foreign capital come in and exploit our  resources? How can we prevent that from degrading our environment in the process?Will the ASEAN taipans  set up their  malls selling their own -produced cheap goods in our midst?

ASEAN integration, therefore, is both and bane. Let each of us prepare how to ride on  or survive the situation.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

One Comment

  1. Fer Ios Fer Ios June 22, 2015

    It is very definite that ASEAN Integration will have a tremendous impact economically not only to Bohol but to the entire country. Since the purpose of it is directed for economic betterment of the region, its positive outcome should overshadow negative results. So folks, just relax and enjoy the tide of change and keep your fingers cross.

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