The Committees on Social, Economic and Organizational Matters of the ongoing 38th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) adopted several resolutions which aim to address important regional concerns such as the drug menace, marine environment pollution, food security, access to financial services in the ASEAN, and strengthening the AIPA as an active partner of the ASEAN in the delivery of inclusive change in the community of nations.
The adopted resolutions will be presented during the second plenary session of the AIPA General Assembly on Tuesday before the closing ceremony of the annual event which is being attended by representatives from the 10 AIPA member-states namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, representatives of Observer Countries, and other guests . House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, incumbent AIPA President, will preside the session.
All three committees were chaired by Members of the House of Representatives as the Philippines is this year’s host.
The Committee on Social Matters chaired by House Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo and with Rep. Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna) as Rapporteur, adopted three resolutions specifically “Adoption of the Report of the 13th Meeting of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Fact Finding Committee (AIFOCOM) to Combat the Drug Menace”; “Adoption of the Resolution on the Terms of Reference (TOR) by the AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD)”; and “Combatting Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics.”
On the “Adoption of the Resolution on the Terms of Reference (TOR) by the AIPA Advisory Council on Dangerous Drugs (AIPACODD),” this was adopted with the following amendments: Provisions on the TOR, which includes the Special Desk Office and its funding were deleted; AIPA Secretariat was tasked to ensure legal and mutual cooperation and the sharing of information and best practices among AIPA Member countries to fight the drug menace; AIPA Secretariat was mandated to consolidate the comments and opinions of AIPA Member countries for discussion at the first AIPACODD Meeting; and the TOR was referred to AIPACODD for further discussion and consideration.
Quimbo expressed elation over the adoption of the resolutions. “You realize that really we are one community. There are so many more things that bind us together than separate us. And we saw today that everyone is so concerned about the environment, and criminality. But it’s always challenging to come up with a consolidated position. Culture and history bind us together so it’s easier to get one’s cooperation. These are countries you cannot just bamboozle and trick into approving the resolutions,” said Quimbo.
Quimbo said the resolutions referred to the Committee on Social Matters will foster social development and address the impact of shifting geo-political and economic dynamics in the region.
“In addition, we cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of non-traditional security problems such as illegal drug trafficking and the imperative for greater regional cooperation to achieve a drug-free ASEAN region. To this end, functional cooperation in the areas of social policy and culture will lead ASEAN members to improve their state of social welfare to raise the peoples’ awareness on ASEAN culture and identity,” he said.
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs and the chairman of the 13th AIFOCOM Meeting, said their proposal to create the AIPACODD as an advisory council for dangerous drugs in the ASEAN has been unanimously approved by the AIPA member delegates.
“It is one step victory for us. The next discussion will be on the Terms of Reference on how the AIPACODD special desk will function and its assignment. But just the same, we already have the draft guidelines and it’s just a matter of having these approved by the AIFOCOM. So generally, what we want yielded a good result because it was unanimously approved,” said Barbers.
The resolution provides that the AIPA Secretariat is tasked to ensure legal and mutual cooperation and the sharing of information and best practices among AIPA Member countries to fight the drug menace; the AIPA Secretariat is mandated to consolidate the comments and opinions of AIPA Member countries for discussion on the first AIPACODD Meeting; and the Terms of Reference was referred to AIPACODD for further discussion and consideration.
As to the adopted resolution on combatting marine plastic debris and microplastics, the Member countries supported the restriction on the use of plastic to protect the marine environment.
Meanwhile, the Committee on Economic Matters chaired by House Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr. (3rd District, Iloilo) adopted the following resolutions: “Developing Policies and Strategies to Address Problems on Regional Food Security” ; “Supporting the Implementation of Financial Inclusion Programs in ASEAN”; Promoting an Inclusive and Innovation-Led Growth for the ASEAN Economic Community”; and Intra-Regional Economic Cooperation for Equitable Development and Inclusive Growth in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).”
In explaining the resolution on “Developing Policies and Strategies to Address Problems on Regional Food Security,” the Philippine Delegation underscored the increased food requirements of a growing ASEAN population which is projected to reach 728 million by the year 2050.
The resolution calls on the government of ASEAN Member States to develop and promote financial resilience and credit mechanisms such as innovative disaster risk financing and micro-insurance, and secure transactions to address market volatility and institutionalize financial response to natural and man-made disasters that could otherwise result in income and food production shocks impacting on producers and consumers alike.”
The resolution “Supporting the Implementation of Financial Inclusion Programs in ASEAN” encourages AIPA Member Parliaments to strengthen and promote the legal framework for the effective delivery of financial products and services to a wider community, especially under-served sectors such as MSMEs and poor households, through the establishment of digital and innovation based national credit information and secured transaction systems.”
It also calls on the governments of ASEAN Member States to include financial resilience mechanisms such as innovative disaster risk financing and micro and index based insurance, to address market volatility and institutionalize financial response to natural disasters that could otherwise result to income shocks and lifetime variations in income and consumption needs.”
Members of the Philippine delegation present during the deliberation were Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA, Reps. Arthur Yap (3rd District, Bohol), Ana Cristina Go (2nd District, Isabela), Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino), Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), and Yedda Marie Romualdez (1st District, Leyte).
Meanwhile, Rep. Rose Marie “Baby” J. Arenas (3rd District, Pangasinan) chaired AIPA’s Committee on Organizational Matters which tackled several resolutions whose primary objective is to strengthen the AIPA as an active partner of the ASEAN in the delivery of inclusive change in the ASEAN community.
“As chair of this committee, I hope today’s meeting will enable us to strengthen the AIPA-ASEAN partnership. We all agree that we need to strengthen the AIPA Secretariat to make it more responsive to its task of effectively supporting AIPA in its mandate to contribute to ASEAN community building, and in bringing the ASEAN vision, its goals and programs, to the very doorstep of each village,” Arenas said in her opening statement.
Before introducing the Philippine delegation to the Committee, Rep. Elenita-Milagros Ermita-Buhain (1st District, Batangas) enumerated the contents of the resolutions which the committee were to discuss.
The committee adopted nine resolutions without any amendment and four resolutions with amendment. It deferred the approval of one resolution.
Notable among the resolutions adopted by the committee is the “Resolution Commending House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez For His Outstanding Performance as President of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.”
An important resolution adopted, with amendment, is the “”Resolution on Formulating and Implementing Project Based Initiative on Strengthening Legal Framework to Protect Children From Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.”
Other resolutions adopted were on “Amendments to the Statutes of the AIPA”; “Communication Master Plan of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA”; “”Human Capacity Development as a Framework in Improving Capacities of Secretariat Personnel of AIPA Member Parliaments”; “The Publishing of the “40 Years of AIPA” Commemorative Book and Appreciation to the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Publishing and Launching the Book”; and Financial Report of the AIPA Secretariat for the Period of August 2016 to 31 July 2017,” among others.
The other members of the Philippine delegation were Reps. Marlyn Alonte (Lone District, Biñan City), Ron Salo (Party-list, Kabayan), Mark Aeron Sambar (Party-list, PBA), Sherwin Tugna (Party-list, Cibac), Reynaldo Umali (2nd District, Oriental Mindoro), and Lorna Silverio (3rd District, Bulacan) as Rapporteur. | CONGRESS- PR