Marcos to Asean: Pay special heed to elderly, youth

(Photo by Yummie Dingding/PPA POOL)

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday expressed his concern regarding the increasing number of elderly people in Southeast Asia and emphasized the importance of addressing this issue.

During the opening of the 2023 plenary session of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Marcos mentioned that the region’s sustained economic growth and prosperity have led to longer lifespans among its people.

“it is time that ASEAN should start discussing the concerns of an ageing population, consistent with the ASEAN tradition of valuing our elders,” Marcos said.

“We must view this, all this as an opportunity and as a challenge, especially in terms of adequate social benefits on the one hand and social empowerment on the other,” he added.

The Chief Executive, citing data from the Asian Development Bank, mentioned that a quarter of the population in the Asia Pacific region would be 60 years old or above by the year 2050.

Meanwhile, Marcos acknowledged the efforts of young Filipinos in addressing climate change and disaster resiliency during the 42nd ASEAN Summit here.

During the ASEAN Leaders’ Interface with Representatives of ASEAN Youth, Marcos Jr. stated that the actions taken by young Filipinos should be emulated across all ASEAN nations.

He explained that one such initiative is the declaration of 25 November as the annual ASEAN Youth in Climate Action and Disaster Resilience Day, which aims to raise awareness and encourage positive action among young people toward addressing climate change and strengthening disaster risk reduction efforts.

“Since 2018, the Philippines, with the support of various partners and stakeholders, has ensured the conduct of annual celebrations and involvement of youth leaders from all ASEAN Member States in the activities,” Marcos said.

According to the President, empowering the youth of Southeast Asia is crucial for the region to maintain its position as the “epicenter of growth.” He highlighted the importance of developing the young population as the key to the region’s future success.

“It is clear again that the future of ASEAN lies in our ability to support the youth in attaining their full potential. And this we must do by providing the skills and motivation to be ready for this future,” Marcos said.

“We must always put front and center all the issues that we face or that our young people face and that our country faces the consequence of time,” he added.

The President emphasized that in order for the region to remain competitive on a global scale, it must be prepared for the future. He specifically mentioned the rapid growth of the digital industry, the world’s increasing reliance on digital technologies and the growing demand for innovative products and services.

Marcos Jr. also stressed the need for ASEAN to take urgent action to equip its young population with the necessary skills to take advantage of opportunities in the digital and creative economies.

“We must ensure that they are well equipped to not only compete globally, but also to develop expertise, forge linkages, and establish leadership in these fields … strengthening youth people-to-people exchanges to facilitate the free flow of ideas and the transfer of skills is critical,” he said.

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