H.E. Mrs. Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia, Philippine Ambassador to Thailand applauded the work of the institute during her visit on 7 October, 2012, commenting The Mekong Institute is [acting as] the third party, telling the different governments that this is the progress and these are the opportunities that we would like to see in the region.
The Ambassador was glad to learn that the institute employs several Filipinos as professional staff members, as well as resource persons for training courses especially on the subject of agriculture.
During discussions, the success of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Program was highlighted. While answering why the BIMP-EAGA program; a similar project by the ADB in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, didnt rise as well as that of the GMS, MI Director, Dr. Suchat Katima said, One advantage [the GMS has] is the proximity of its countries. Secondly, [the program] came in a timely manner it came when we turned our battlefields into market-based economies. This caught the attention of many donors around the world.
MI facilitated an exposure trip for the delegation to two villages: Baan Dong-Bang sufficiency economy village of Waeng-Yai District, and the silk village of Chonnaboot Disctrict, where the ambassador and her delegation saw different local projects in Khon Kaen province and got a sense of Isaan rural life.
While at the Baan Waeng Yai Village, Mr. Boontem Chaila, founder of the cooperative and local agricultural expert, explained that the project started with 15 families in 1989, and now has over 2000 families in 5 provinces implementing its self-sufficiency system. Mr. Bootem was pleased to inform the ambassador that his knowledge and training on sufficiency economy model was attained from Davao City, Southern Philippines. He also expressed his desire return to Davao with his team to further expand their expertise on the subject.
The Philippine Embassys consular team visited the Isaan Region as part of a consular outreach for the Filipinos in Khon Kaen, Nongbua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Buriram, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Phetchabun, and Loei.
Ambassador Batoon-Garcia was accompanied by Ms. Princess U. Tomas-Tayao, Third Secretary & Vice Consul & Alternate Permanent Representative To UNESCAP, Ms. Sylvia M. Reyes, Assistant (Cultural) & Attach, Mr. Roberto R. Reyes, Consular Assistant in-charge of Assistance to Nationals (Atn) & Attach, Ms. Bernadette M. Dimaano, Assistant (Consular) & Attach, and Mr. Erlito C. Bayaga, Assistant (Political) & Attach.