AIPA 41 in strategic position to coordinate efforts against COVID-19: Philippine official hinh anh 1Deputy Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Raneo E. Abu (Photo: Balikas Online)

Hanoi (VNA) – 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 resiliency.

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 technology. 

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 region. 

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./.