AIPA expresses support for Philippines’ message for positive changes in the community and ASEAN unity. #ASEAN2017

17 October 2017

ASEAN leaders during the interface with representatives of AIPA.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) have resolved to make AIPA an effective vehicle to promote and maintain peace and stability in the region by working closely with the ASEAN in addressing regional concerns such as terrorism, the South China Sea and other maritime issues, illicit drug trafficking, and promotion of migrant workers’ rights, among others.

The commitment was contained in the AIPA Message delivered today by Philippine House of Representatives Speaker and AIPA President Pantaleon D. Alvarez during his remarks at the Interface of ASEAN heads of states and governments with AIPA parliamentarians held at the Philippine International Convention Center.

“We resolve to make AIPA an effective vehicle to promote and maintain peace and stability in the region. We will work closer with the respective legislatures of the ASEAN Member States to elicit greater participation of the people in implementing ASEAN initiatives and programs,” said Alvarez.

The AIPA Message was finalized last April 28, Friday by the AIPA delegates during their Preparatory Meeting which was presided by Alvarez and attended by delegates from the member-states of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.

The message initially states that AIPA expresses support for the Philippines’ core message for positive changes in the community and ASEAN unity, along with the realization of its six thematic priorities, namely: people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN; peace and stability in the region; maritime security and cooperation; inclusive and innovation-led growth; ASEAN’s resilience; and, ASEAN as a model of regionalism and a global player.

‘’We proudly recognize the chairmanship of the Philippines of ASEAN under the theme ‘Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,’ as it celebrates its 50th Anniversary. We also are pleased to note that AIPA marks its 40 years of bringing ASEAN closer to the people. On the third ASEAN Parliamentarian Meeting held here in Manila in September 1977, ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization (or AIPO) was formally launched which later evolved into AIPA in 2007,” it said.

Alvarez said AIPA recognizes that ASEAN is as crucial as other international bodies for regional and international cooperation. “AIPA and ASEAN shall protect and preserve its own cultures, traditions and laws. The voices of Member- States with more than 600 million people in the region speaking as one, have a more effective voice that cannot be ignored,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez said their distinct cultures are anchored on shared origins and an intertwined history of trade, colonialism, and rise to self-determination, that fundamentally make them all part of the ASEAN family.

“As kin, we ought to look out for each other and, with the collective gains of our ASEAN brothers and sisters, build a future that is worthy of our shared history. It’s about time we build and focus on our region,” said the Speaker.

The AIPA in its message also reaffirmed its support for the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint to provide a solid foundation for regional dialogue.

“Multi-faceted security challenges such as terrorism, migration and humanitarian crises, among others, remain as major regional concerns. We cannot underscore enough the need for a culture of peace, respect and dialogue to bridge differences, defuse tension and counter extremism. ASEAN must strengthen its cohesiveness to build a more democratic, rules-based and inclusive community that shares the values of tolerance and moderation,” said Alvarez.

AIPA also underscored the importance of maintaining the South China Sea as a sea of peace, prosperity and cooperation. “We support the solution of territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means and to exercise self-restraint in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (or UNCLOS),” said Alvarez.

Likewise, AIPA also recognizes the importance of maritime security, and called for cooperation and constructive dialogues on maritime issues of common interest and concern, including crimes at sea, search and rescue, maritime scientific research and unreported and unregulated fishing.

The AIPA also reaffirmed ASEAN’s resolve against drug abuse and its commitment towards a drug-free region. “To combat the continuing challenges of illicit drug production, misuse and trafficking, we urge ASEAN to fully and effectively implement the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs 2016–2025,” said Alvarez.

AIPA also recognized that one of the biggest marginalized sectors in ASEAN is the migrant workers who have contributed to the region’s economic gains. Migrant workers from ASEAN were about 14 million in 2014 which accounted for six percent of the global total. They sent almost $50 billion in remittances to the whole region, making overseas employment among the most important sources of export earnings according to AIPA.

“ASEAN and AIPA therefore should work closely on the following agenda: 1) creating the policy and legal framework to promote the rights of migrant workers, eliminating all kinds of abuse and discrimination in the workplace; 2) facilitating access to information, training and education, justice, and social welfare services; 3) promoting fair and appropriate employment protection, payment of wages and adequate access to decent working and living conditions; and, 4) facilitating the exercise of consular functions or diplomatic authorities of States of origin when a migrant worker is arrested or detained in any other manner, under the laws and regulations of the receiving State and in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. We look forward to the finalisation of an ASEAN instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers,” said AIPA.

AIPA also called on ASEAN to take more pro-active measures to promote inclusive growth and reduce social disparities and narrow development gaps within and outside the region.

Lastly, AIPA urged ASEAN to strengthen and continue the ASEAN vision beyond 2017. From a parliamentary perspective, legislative support remains crucial to the implementation of ASEAN agreements and commitments. As such, AIPA pledges its commitment to continuously support the enhancement of ASEAN-AIPA cooperation at operational level, it said.

(HOR) – ASEAN2017

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