Deputy Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Raneo E. Abu (Photo: Balikas Online)
– In the midst of
uncertainty and seemingly unending health and economic shocks brought about by
the COVID-19 global crisis, the 41st General Assembly of the ASEAN
Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) is in a strategic position to serve as a
platform to coordinate and integrate efforts of AIPA member parliaments to help
stem the tide of the contagion, according to a Philippine official.
In an interview with Vietnam News Agency ahead
of the teleconferenced AIPA 41 from September 8 to 10, Deputy Speaker of the
Philippine House of Representatives Raneo E. Abu also noted that with AIPA
spearheading the regional drive towards the formulation of common legislation,
and the institution of frameworks to build a sustainable programme of action,
to combat and contain the pandemic, it is imperative that AIPA member
parliaments cooperate and combine resources in putting up a united stand to
fight this viral menace.
COVID-19 is a continually evolving and perilous health issue,
which so far has eluded quick and enduring solutions by medical experts and
virologists alike, thus, it must be confronted with utmost vigilance, focus and
Through AIPA, member parliaments can establish
cooperation mechanisms to enable sharing of best practices in fighting COVID-19
with fellow AIPA member states. This will greatly enhance the crafting of
common legislation which will strengthen the overall capacity of ASEAN region
nations to combat the COVID-19 contagion.
Medical data sharing among regional neighbor
countries, on the viral transmission behaviour patterns and effective
counter-measures, also helps in the formulation and refinement of anti COVID-19
programmes and policies being implemented.
Through these, AIPA provides a ray of hope,
survival and recovery by leading the way towards a cohesive and responsive
ASEAN region, in this very trying time of near apocalyptic health threats to the
existence in this world, according to the official.
He went on to say that during this extremely
difficult time of COVID-19 and concomitant severe economic slowdown, the
Philippine House of Representatives fully realises the expediency to adapt a
new normal way of life. This entails a massive recalibration of long
established norms and conduct in doing things in almost all aspects of the
daily lives, in both individual and collective capacities.
Countries now have to integrate this new normal
mindset in crafting legislation, programmes and policies in the continued march
towards the full implementation of the ASEAN political, economic and
socio-cultural blueprints, in order to achieve the end goal of community
building and regional integration, the official noted.
The Philippines strongly supports AIPA member
parliaments’ initiatives to craft a fast, resilient, and sustainable recovery
plan to help bring the ASEAN region back on its feet as well as
institutionalising an effective national preparedness and response mechanisms
that would deal with the present and future pandemics, he said, adding that the
building up of a truly impregnable health care system and strengthening of a
social security system that would provide the widest scope and coverage of the
population, most specially the marginalised sector, are also urgent measures
during this critical time.
He said during these new normal times, digital
technology plays a very crucial role in facilitating the movement of people,
goods and services in the region. The digital connectivity that is now being
forced upon countries by the pandemic should be viewed as merely hastening the
evolution of borderless communities between and among nations, which is one of
their future goals.
It is essential that countries review and update
existing rules and regulations governing digital technology, the official
noted, adding that to sustain the continued operation of economies, it is a
need to fully optimise and harness the connectivity benefits derived from digital
He also said the COVID-19 pandemic in ASEAN has
resulted in heightened security measures in individual and regional territorial
borders, in order to restrict the entry of coronavirus infected individuals. On
the same token, ASEAN states should not let their guard down in the campaign to
counter the ever growing and evolving threat of terrorism, extremism,
radicalism and transnational crime in the region.
In the interview, the Deputy Speaker of the
Philippine House of Representatives said the National Assembly (NA) of Vietnam,
as the AIPA 2020 Chair, under the leadership of its Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim
Ngan, capably led AIPA member parliaments in facing the COVID-19 crisis with
resolve and determination to overcome, heal and recover as one united,
responsive and cohesive region.
Acting intrepidly to rally AIPA member states,
Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, in a March 30, 2020 communication to the heads
of AIPA member parliaments, called on the AIPA legislatures to unite in
confronting the specter of the pandemic, which threatened the lives of millions
of people in the ASEAN region. She urged AIPA parliaments to join hands in
instituting measures and five policies designed to coordinate regional efforts
in controlling the unprecedented viral outbreak. During the ASEAN leaders
interface with AIPA last June 26, she also stressed the need for a whole of
country approach to enable the inclusive healing and recovery of the
Raneo E. Abu said the House of Representatives
of the Philippines highly appreciates the zeal and dedication of the Vietnamese
NA, as manifested by its aforementioned efforts to enable AIPA to contribute in
the recovery of the ASEAN region from the impact of COVID-19. It also commends
and supports the Vietnamese NA’s call for the continued crafting of common
parliamentary initiatives to sustain and preserve the gains already achieved
towards the full implementation of political, economic and socio-cultural
community integration by 2025.
He also highlighted the Philippine lower house’s
highest appreciation for the leadership and brotherhood exhibited by the
Vietnamese NA during this most difficult chapter of the ASEAN region.
It firmly believes that AIPA 2020 under the helm
of the NA of Vietnam will continue to play a major role to make the ASEAN
region resilient, cohesive, responsive and undaunted, no matter what challenges
member countries have to face in the coming years, according to the official./.