Quezon City, Philippines — The East Asian Seas (EAS) Congress 2009 National Organizing Committee, chaired by Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Jose L. Atienza, Jr., held its second meeting to discuss progress of preparations for the successful conduct of the event. The committee welcomed updates as reported by Prof. Raphael P. M. Lotilla, Head of Congress Secretariat and PEMSEA Executive Director.The Members commended the encouraging number of registrants received thus far (768 registrations as of July 2009) and expects further increase as the EAS Congress approaches. The International Conference workshop programmes, the organization of the special events as well as the exhibition and field visits are progressing well.Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large Prof. Tommy Koh will add prestige to the occasion with their participation as plenary speakers. Leading experts will lend their knowledge as theme keynote speakers, namely: Dr. Bhichit Rattakul of Asian Disaster Preparedness Center; Dr. Edgardo Gomez of Marine Science Institute; Dr. Torkil Jonch Clausen of Global Water Partnership; Dr. Michael Crawford of London University; and Dr. Rudolf Wu of City University of Hong Kong. The committee has also received positive indication that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will grace and deliver the keynote at the opening ceremony of the Ministerial Forum.Secretary Atienza underscored the importance of publicizing the EAS Congress in addition to ongoing efforts that utilize various media such as the internet, TV/radio interviews, press releases, print materials and related activities. The EAS Congress presents a major opportunity for the Philippines to promote its initiatives and achievements in the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources. He also emphasized the significance of the EAS Congress as a way to showcase the Philippines as a venue for international conferences.Support and commitments from the working groups were received, including the airing of the Congress videos in the Philippines' three government stations and electronic billboards through the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).Representatives of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and Philippine National Police reiterated their agencies' ongoing preparations for receiving the delegation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The Department of Foreign Affairs is presently coordinating with the relevant embassies to facilitate the transportation of the passengers, particularly the dignitaries."We could not have asked for a better, more committed group of people to assist in the preparation and successful organization of the East Asian Seas Congress 2009," enthused Secretary Atienza who expressed his sincere appreciation to the members of the Committee."PEMSEA is fortunate to have a strong support from the Philippine government as host of the EAS Congress through the DENR," added Prof. Raphael P.M. Lotilla.Under DENR Special Order 352, the East Asian Seas Congress National Organizing Committee is tasked to plan, prepare and execute the program of activities in line with the event. The departments of Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Interior and Local Government, Customs and Budget, along with the PIA, the National Economic Development Authority, and Presidential Management Staff comprise part of the working groups.The EAS Congress 2009 is hosted by the Government of the Philippines, and organized by DENR and PEMSEA. It will be held on 23-27 November at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila. Visit www.pemsea.org/eascongress or contact the Secretariat for more information.