MANILA- In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s 50th year, regional progress remains the bloc's goal, similar to the reason why it was founded in the first place.
But despite the economic growth of ASEAN member countries, poor people still do not benefit from it, University of the Philippines Asian Studies Prof. Eduardo Tadem said.
"True we have high economic growth rates, all of these varies across countries but this economic growth has not benefited most of ASEAN peoples. It has been an exclusive kind of growth which continually marginalize the poor, the disadvantaged, and disenfranchised," he said in an interview on ANC Friday.
Tadem said economic growth has been elusive to some countries due to bias in economic development strategies.
He said most Southeast Asian countries base their economy on market trends which are usually in favor of big businesses that are simply profit-oriented.
Economic policies in Southeast Asia are also biased against agriculture and manufacturing and is geared towards the service industry.
"Many peoples of ASEAN countries are actually based on the countryside, with the exception of Singapore of course, then they are marginalized and their development has been sidelined in that matter," Tadem said.
Tadem also lamented the lack of public participation in ASEAN decision-making, given that most of the decisions made by the leaders affect their constituents.
"ASEAN discusses, analyzes and reaches the decisions on various matters concerning ASEAN peoples but ASEAN peoples are not part of that decision-making process," he said.
Southeast Asian leaders are scheduled to meet on Saturday in Manila to discuss inclusivity, economic growth, maritime security, and peace and stability within the region.