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Asean lawmakers approve statement on illegal drugs, code of conduct

/ 06:58 PM April 28, 2017
Pantaleon Alvarez with Aipa members - 28 April 2017

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez (sixth from left) pose with his Aipa colleagues on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Photo from the Office of the Speaker)

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led the approval on Friday by the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) lawmakers and parliamentarians of their draft statement to state leaders stressing the Asean work plan against illicit drugs and the declaration of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.

Alvarez led the preparatory meeting of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (Aipa) at the Makati Shangri-la in approving their draft message to the Asean-Aipa Interface which would be held on Saturday (April 29).

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Aipa aims to promote closer cooperation among the parliaments of Asean member­states.

Alvarez is this year’s Aipa president. The Philippines is chair and host of this year’s Asean summit.

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READ: Alvarez to lead opening of Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly

In his opening speech, Alvarez said the Asean parliamentarians’ draft message “sums up the milestone achievements of our collaboration and our unwavering commitment to pursue the goals of the Asean Community Vision” under the three pillars of the regional community: political-security, economics, and socio-cultural.

Under the Political-Security Pillar, the Aipa draft message stressed the need for a regional architecture promoting Asean centrality and unity, a culture of peace, respect and dialogue to bridge differences, and the importance of defusing tension and counter extremism, according to a statement from Alvarez’s office.

The same pillar also stresses the non-interference principle in the internal affairs of Asean member-states, as well as the full implementation of the Declaration on the Code of Conduct governing freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, where some member states have tense overlapping claims with China.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would not bring up the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling that invalided China’s historic claim on almost the entire the West Philippine Sea in favor of the Philippines, because it was an issue between Manila and Beijing only.

Besides the Philippines, Asean member-states Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have overlapping claims with China.

READ: Duterte: Arbitral ruling not an issue for Asean

The political security pillar also calls for a drug-free region by implementing the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities against Illicit Drugs 2016 to 2025.

Meanwhile, the draft message under the economic pillar focused on the promotion of entrepreneurship and human capital development to integrate micro, small and medium enterprises to the Asean Economic Community.

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The message also focused on the support for the implementation of the Initiative for Asean Integration Work Plan III to narrow the socio-economic inequities in the region.

Under the Socio-Cultural Pillar, the Asean lawmakers want to emphasize the need to strengthen human resource development to promote access to skills development and lifelong learning.

They also want to finalize an Asean instrument on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers that recognizes and promotes universal human rights and fundamental principles and rights at work in labor migration.

Finally, the Asean lawmakers want to finalize the Asean Declaration on One Asean, One Response, which underscores the commitment of Asean to respond to disasters within and outside the region in a unified and integrated manner.

“I sincerely hope that our preparatory meeting today to finalize our message for tomorrow’s Asean-Aipa Interface will not be as difficult for I truly believe we have done our homework, in a manner of speaking,” Alvarez said.

The Aipa delegates would join the Interface Meeting of Asean Leaders with Aipa Representatives on Saturday, to be attended by President Rodrigo Duterte who will deliver the opening remarks.

Alvarez is expected to deliver the Aipa message to the Asean heads of states.

The Philippines is host of the 30th Asean Summit which runs from April 26 to 29 in Manila. Duterte is this year’s Asean chair who will host the first of two annual meetings of ASEAN leaders on Saturday.

The Asean leaders are also expected to tackle the crafting of a Code of Conduct to govern the actions of Asean member states and China in the South China Sea. /atm

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TAGS: Asean Summit, martime dispute, Pantaleon Alvarez, South China Sea, West Philippine Sea
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