Leading Lawmakers of the Philippines rallied their regional counterparts towards helping the Association of Southeast Asian Nations achieve its goals for the region.

Speaking at the opening program of the 38th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, current AIPA President and Philippines House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez pointed out the role AIPA can play in ensuring the passage of enabling legislation that will implement agreements forged by ASEAN. “ASEAN’s major bottleneck in the implementation of regional integration measures is in the slow ratification of agreements by Member States, particularly commitments from the ASEAN Economic Community. AIPA’s participation can result in fully harmonizing the legal frameworks of the ASEAN Member States, and building common standards by promulgating domestic laws in line with ASEAN agreements and commitments. I am confident that the ASEAN recognizes the necessity of participation and collaboration of parliamentarians if the envisaged ASEAN Community Vision 2025 is to be realized. “

Alvarez  added that as ASEAN enters a new phase of its journey, “it will require us to take stronger collective actions to endure the current tide of regional and global challenges that include the spread of violent extremism, tensions resulting from maritime sovereignty disputes, human and drug trafficking, among others. “

For Alvarez, ASEAN parliamentarians will have more voice in the regional process, a domain which has been traditionally exclusive to the Executive branch. AIPA — as the legislative representative of the ASEAN people — has shown its resolve to contribute significantly in the work of the three community pillars of ASEAN.

Likewise, the Philippine Speaker said that Under the Philippine stewardship of the 38th General Assembly, “we stress the need for inclusive representation and participation. The capacity to take into consideration and be responsive to the needs of marginalized sectors in ASEAN Member States is an important aspect of the legitimacy of a representative and inclusive assembly. “

The theme of this year’s General Assembly — “AIPA and ASEAN: Partnering for Inclusive Change” 

Alvarez’s term as AIPA President coincides with the commemoration of two historic occasions — the 50th Anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the 40th Anniversary of AIPA.  The House is the Philippine Congress’ representative in the AIPA.

On the other hand, Philippine Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III stressed the importance of teamwork in bridging the organizations of the region to the people. “ASEAN member states have shown respect for each other’s sovereignty, have been talking to ecah other, working with each other, cooperating with each other , consulting ecah other, interacting with each other , building group consensus and have observed a policy of non-interference in domestic issues among others. in my vcabulary this is what i call teamwork for as long as we maintain this teamwork within ASEAN, I caon confidently predict the continuation of ASEAN’s miracle in the next 50 years.”

Pimentel points out the challenges that ASEAN faces now, as it marks its 50th hear. The Philippines is the host and chair of the ASEAN this year.

However ASEAN just like any other regional organization  faces some challenges and could also benefit from some assistance please allow me to name 2 of these challenges  our diversity within ASEAN is not limited to our cultures. economic situtaions are also very diverse. there is still a large gap between the richest and the poorest nations of ASEAN and wihtin our own nations inequality remains a major issue.  Knowledge about ASEAN and what it is all about has not come down to the people if ASEAN is indeed going to succeed over the long term, ownership  of the organization must shift from governments to the people, from ministries to communities for govts come and go the people do not. let us in AIPA helps ASEAN.”

Pimentel suggests some key issues for AIPA’s study such as the problem of illegal drugs, a centerpiece program of the Duterte Administration, the rpesence of terrorism, the region’s state of disaster preparedness, the issue of human trafficking , the inequality of economic development. “let our teamwork be manifested in our collective effort  to find solutions to the said problems of common interest.”

The 38th General Assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly opened in glitzy and star studded fashion Saturday with Kapamilya stars led by Gary Valenciano, Jaya, Srah Geronimo, Anne Curtis , James Reid and Coco Martin. The Kapamilya stars headlined the cultural presentation which kicked off the assembly. The rest of the AIPA assembly will be closed for public coverage. It will be opened again on Tuesday during the closing rites during which President Duterte is expected as a keynote speaker.

The AIPA was originally the ASEAN Interparliamentary Organization, which was formed to to significantly contribute through inter-parliamentary cooperation in the attainment of the goals and aspirations of ASEAN. Ten years after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1970, there was a realization among parliamentarians that the strength of ASEAN emanates from the roots of its societies. The establishment of AIPO was at the initiative of Indonesia. In the early 1970’s, encouraged by the progress being made by ASEAN, the Indonesian House of Representatives came up with the idea of setting up an organization composed of the parliaments of the then five ASEAN member countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 

Since its inception in 1977, AIPO held almost annual general assemblies.

The assembly became AIPA in 2006 — during the 27th AIPO General Assembly held in Cebu City as it sought to be a more effective and closely integrated institution was a reflection of the organization’s need to play a more effective role in the realization of ASEAN’s goals.  Since the adoption of its new statute in 2007, AIPA has transformed itself from an annual social gathering of parliamentarians to an assembly of legislators working for an integrated ASEAN. At each GA, AIPO met with dialogue partners Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, and the European Parliament. The participation of the dialogue partners at the AIPO General Assemblies, in addition to the exchange of visits, had helped establish a network of relationships, closer contacts and understanding among parliamentarians. India was accepted as the 10th dialogue partner during the 31st GA in Hanoi, Vietnam in September 2010.