The 27th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) General Assembly is taking place this week (10-15 September 2006) in Cebu, Philippines.
Over 300 delegates from the various ASEAN parliaments are participating in this event.
Several issues have been raised for discussion at AIPO. For instance, the Philippines Vice-President Noli de Castro and the House Speaker Jose de Venecia urged the delegates to bring ASEAN closer to their constituents. De Venecis suggested that all ASEAN members include ASEAN studies in their educational curriculum. Delegates also endorsed the greater use of bio-fuels and renewable sources of energy, having interfaith dialogues to counter terrorism and cooperate in fighting terrorism in cyber-space.
However, one of the most important decisions made at AIPO was the change of name of AIPO itself. To signify the desire for a closer integration between AIPO and ASEAN, the delegates of AIPO have agreed to change the name of AIPO to ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA). Earlier, in her video-recorded keynote address, the Philippines President Arroyo suggested that the change in name of AIPO was a step towards the possible formation of an ASEAN parliament. Arroyo’s views were supported by Agung Laksono, the Speaker of the Indonesian House of Representatives. He explained Indonesia’s proposal to change AIPO’s name “so as to reflect the spirit of the transformation process.” This proposal of ASEAN parliamentary council is an initiative of the AIPO president and the Philippines House Speaker Jose de Venecia.
President Arroyo also stressed the importance of the ASEAN Charter, explaining that, “The ASEAN Charter will enshrine the principles and values to bind member countries and make ASEAN a rules-based regional organisation with a judicial personality.” A declaration on the framework of the ASEAN Charter is likely at the ASEAN summit. The Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said that the other four priorities for the Philippines at the ASEAN summit are
- the strengthening of regional security with the adoption of a convention and declaration of counterterrorism
- a declaration on the Rights of Migrant Workers
- cooperation in energy security through the holding of an energy summit to address concerns over rising oil prices
- the protection and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable development through the development through the ASEAN Centre for biodiversity
The connection between the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) mechanism was discussed on 12 September in a conference on ASEAN’s role in the EAS in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s Director-General for ASEAN Cooperation, Dian Triansyah Djani called the fear that the formation of the EAS would adversely impact ASEAN integrity “unreasonable.” He said, “We see the East Asia Summit as a dialogue among leaders. The most important thing is that we focus on enhancing the ASEAN community first.”
Another speaker, Rizal Sukma of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) warned that any expansion of EAS’ membership would “only harm EAS and revive ASEAN+3 as the main vehicle of East Asia community.” However, he was unsure if ASEAN would be able to avoid being caught between China andJapan if cooperation between ASEAN and East Asia was only limited to APT. Participants of the seminar all seem to agree that ASEAN should focus on its internal integration first lest the latter be neglected.
Arroyo, Indonesia’s Laksono Push Drafting of ASEAN Charter, BusinessWorld, 13 September 2006
ASEAN Urged to Unite for Summit, Jakarta Post, 13 September 2006
ASEAN Urged to Unite for Summit, Xinhua General News, 13 September 2006
Philippines: ASEAN Parliamentarians Approve Anti-Terror, Bio-Fuels Pact, BBC Worldwide Monitoring [The Philippines Star Website], 13 September 2006
Romulo Cites 2 Priorities for ASEAN Summitin Cebu, ManilaTimes, 13 September 2006
AIPO Takes Security, Bio-Fuels and Change of Name, ManilaBulletin, 13 September 2006
CEBU’s Economy to Get Boost from ASEAN Lawmakers Meet, Asia Pulse, 12 September 2006
EAS Unlikely to Disrupt ASEAN Integrity, Antara, 12 September 2006
EAS Enlargement to Harm EAS, Antara, 12 September 2006
Parliament for ASEAN Up at CebuMeet, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 11 September 2006
AIPO Needs to Transform to Serve as Full Partner of ASEAN, Inq7.net, 11 September 2006
Teach ASEAN in Schools: de Venecia, Sun Star, 12 September 2006
Speaker Of Parliament to Lead Delegation to AIPO General Assembly, ChannelnewsAsia, 9 September 2006