(Opening statement of Hon. Jose de Venecia, founding chairman and chairman of Standing Committee, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP); former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republic of the Philippines; co-chairman, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), at the 35th meeting of the ICAPP Standing Committee, April 21, 2021).
ICAPP Co-Chairman, Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong; Vice Chairman and Special Rapporteur, Senator MushahidHussainSayed; Secretary General Cho Byung-jae;
Excellencies, dear friends:
Thanks to modern communications technology, we are gathered here despite great distances and time differences.
The coronavirus plague has devastated lives, communities, and economies, and has set us apart physically. May we say, however, that you, dear friends and colleagues, are always in our heart and in our prayers.
Indeed the COVID-19 pandemic is not just a health and an economic crisis. It is also a threat to international peace and security. It endangers the hard-word gains in building a just and lasting peace in conflict areas.
We are pleased that even in the midst of the raging pandemic, which claimed the lives of our respective relatives and friends, we in ICAPP have not lost the will and the spirit to advance the causes of peace and security, cooperation and development, friendship and dialogue through the channel of political parties.
For these are the causes that unite us, that bring us together, that are larger than ourselves.
Our meeting today is also our continuing modest contribution in building an edifice of peace, which is our universal longing and our most shared, yet elusive goal.
The world needs peace. Asia and the world have had a surfeit of war and violence.
We can never understate our need for peace, especially in the light of the many protracted political, territorial, religious, separatist, ideological, and ethnic conflicts in Asia and in various parts of the world.
We sadly note the continuing bloodshed in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya; the fears and dangers of explosion between the US and Iran; the unresolved Palestinian-Israeli hostilities; the ongoing conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh; the enduring tension in the Korean Peninsula; the maritime tensions in the South China Sea and East China Sea; and other crisis areas in the global community.
While we are profoundly aware of the historical and cultural roots of many of these conflicts, and the enmity and bitter divisions that have grown between rivals, we cannot turn away from the pursuit of peace because the alternative, which is violence and war, would be immeasurably costly and make all of us losers.
We have repeatedly pointed out that our role as political parties is essential as we serve as the vehicles of people’s participation and aspirations. We constitute the government and parliament. We are the bridge between policy and people.
Political parties could not leave peace and development to chance; nor could we allow public policies to be manipulated by the oligarchs and special interest groups that customarily fund electoral campaigns.
Political parties have a responsibility to make a difference in people’s lives and in resolving conflict and in battling poverty and social inequality.
In practice, representative government cannot be anything but party government. Presidents, prime ministers, kings, and administrations come and go, but political parties remain. Many of our political problems arise from our lack of political groupings able to think coherently of the national interest.
But we do believe we can awaken this reformist spirit in our political system if we, together, tried hard enough.
Dear friends: As we continue to play our role in building a cohesive Asian community and in contributing to the global quest for peace and prosperity, we also continue to storm heaven with prayers that this raging plague will soon be stamped out so we can reopen our economy and live “normal” lives again, indeed for all peoples of the world.
Thank you and good day.