HANOI, Vietnam (MindaNews/29 October) — President Benigno S. Aquino III has endorsed the proposed revival of the People’s Economic
Councils or PECs across the country to generate more economic activities and perk up the development of micro and small enterprises.
Jose Concepcion Jr., chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business Advisory Council-Philippines section, told MindaNews the President specifically committed to explore the revitalization of the program that was first introduced during the
term of the late President Corazon Aquino.
He said the move was also supported by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.
“He (Aquino) agreed to revive the program and implement it throughout the country,” said Concepcion, who joined a dialogue between ASEAN
heads of states and business leaders here Thursday.
The dialogue was part of the series of multisectoral interfaces attended by the Southeast Asian leaders, who were here for the three-day 17th ASEAN Summit.
Citing his brief interaction with the President at the National Convention Center here, Concepcion said the establishment of the PECs
will be integrated by the national government to the ongoing initiatives related with the planned integration of the 10-nation bloc’s economies by the year 2015.
He said the program will serve as the government’s “initial response” to the commitment issued by ASEAN heads of states at the ongoing
summit here to revitalize the region’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as part of the regional economic integration process.
“It’s one of the immediate but concrete steps that (the government) will be undertaking so far in support of that commitment,” he said.
Concepcion, who initiated the establishment of the PECs during the late 80s as then trade and industry secretary of the late President
Aquino, did not say how the revival of the PECs will be worked out but said it would be patterned after the program that they had introduced.
Initially, he said the PECs will likely be integrated with the existing SME Development Councils and the One Town, One Product or OTOP program of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The PECs were earlier established in key municipalities and cities in the country to provide a more focused approach on the development of
products and resources that are available in various local communities in the country, he said.
Concepcion said the PECs mainly “empowered the people” in thecountryside and helped generate economic activities through the
establishment of community-level trade and investment ventures.
Among these surviving ventures is the Salay Handmade Paper Industries Inc. (SHAPII), a producer and exporter of handmade paper and its
converted items based in Salay, Misamis Oriental.
In its website, SHAPII noted that it was established in 1987 through a PEC initially involving at least 10 persons in their area. (Allen V.