Delegates of the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA) coming from Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, India, China, Hong Kong, and the Philippines gathered for the EROPA 2019 General Assembly and Conference to discuss vital issues affecting the Asia and the Pacific region, elect officers of the organization, and adopt resolutions and plans for upcoming activities. This was held at the International Center for Public Administration (ICPA) of the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Quezon City on September 22 to 27.
With the main theme, “The Future of Public Administration: Rethinking Resilience, Equity, and Sustainability in the Region”, the conference featured plenary discussions, paper presentations, and parallel sessions on four sub-themes, namely: Social Equity and Well-Being; Environmental Sustainability; Public Finance and the Good Life; and, The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Development. Participants were engaged in scholarly and timely discussions on a very broad range of topics which covered: food and water security, agrarian reform, labor, education, economics, entrepreneurship, finance, bureaucracy, civil society, disaster risk reduction and management, climate change, and many others connected with meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations’ agenda for international development.
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, EROPA Secretary-General Orlando S. Mercado, and NCPAG Officer-in-Charge Simeon A. Ilago welcomed the delegates in the opening ceremony on September 23. Ilago encouraged the delegates to “rethink, learn and unlearn, discover and rediscover, frame and reframe ideas and actions that will help shape the future of the study and practice of Public Administration.” Concepcion affirmed that the conference “complements and fulfills the mandate of both the academe and of EROPA.” He added that addressing the problem of climate change “would require serious transformation in how we manage our affairs and our resources, in addition to the already challenging complexities brought about by globalization, changes in technologies, and human activities.” Mercado shared insights from his experiences as a former Philippine senator and reminded the participants to look closer at the details in trying to find solutions to the issues, or in seeing the “gorillas” likely being overlooked.
The first plenary session featured presentations by Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, senior adviser of the Khazanah Research Institute, Malaysia, and Professor Pan Suk Kim of the College of Business and Governance, Yonsei University, Korea, on “the future of Public Administration”. An open forum followed, moderated by UP NCPAG Professor Ma. Victoria R. Raquiza. Sundaram urged the audience “to address the problems that we have inherited” in his discussion on good governance. He said that: “we should think about developmental governance”; face global warming with idea of a “global green new deal”; “reduce climate change while raising living standards for all people”; and, “strengthen stakeholders” in implementing a school feeding program to solve hunger and malnutrition. “As public administrators you have the potential to make sure that our governments’ collective commitment to the SDGs enable us to improve the conditions of living for the vast majority of our people,” concluded Sundaram. Kim highlighted the shifting of discourse from Western to Asian, the need for connectivity, and the use of technology. “We have to improve Asian public administration. . . We have to have our own theory,” he said. This is through “Asianization” or localization, so that “we can interpret our own problems in our own ways”, he added. “We can learn a lot from each other so we can transform Asian public administration to more creative innovation. We need to develop our own indigenous or localized or Asian way. We need to promote innovative culture. Innovative culture is having innovation in every workplace,” concluded Kim.
In the 2nd plenary session, Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) President Cecilia Garrucho gave a presentation on the history and experiences of PETA where she highlighted how theater helps to transform people and communities for the better, through their vision of having a “theater for the people”, cultivating commitment and leadership, and immersion to learn the needs of those whom they work with.
The plenary session on “Social Equity and Well-Being” featured as resource speakers: Sungkyunkwan University (Korea) Professor Rosa Minhyo Cho; UNICEF (Philippines) Chief of Social Policy Anjanette Saguisag; and, Department of Education (Philippines) Secretary Leonor M. Briones.
Director Bruno Carrasco of the Public Management, Financial Sector, and Trade Division of the Asian Development Bank, and Professor Michael Mah-Hui Lim (Malaysia) served as resource speakers for the plenary session on “Public Finance and the Good Life”.
For the plenary session on the “Fourth Industrial Revolution and Development”, UP Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cynthia Rose Bautista, STRIDE Program Chief of Party Richard Abendan, and Professor Yuan He of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (China) served as resource speakers.
UP Resilience Institute Executive Director Alfredo Mahar Lagmay and Professor Agus Pramusinto of the Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia) served as resource speakers for the plenary session on “Resilience and Environmental Sustainability”.
Professor Heungsuk Choi of Korea University, Deputy Director General Ernesto Perez of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (Philippines), and Civil Service Commission (Philippines) Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala served as resource speakers for the plenary session on “Special Panel on Competition, Regulation, and Public Sector Reform”.
Heads of state member delegations and new EROPA officers also delivered their messages at the conference.
EROPA, an international organization of states, groups and individuals in Asia and the Pacific, was formally constituted at the first meeting of its General Assembly held in the Philippines in December 1960: to “advance the economic and social development of the region through the promotion of the study, practice and status of public administration and management”; and, to “provide a forum to exchange information and ideas on innovative approaches to efficient, effective and ethical public service”.