Indomitability of the human spirit amid the raging pandemic

Published August 8, 2021, 12:02 AM

by Former House Speaker Jose C. De Venecia Jr.


Jose de Venecia Jr.
Former Speaker of the House

Like many international organizations, we in the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) had to indefinitely suspend some of our programs due to the raging global pandemic which, sadly, seems to have no apparent end in sight.

And also like the others, ICAPP resorted to online conferences in our continuing effort to foster dialogue, understanding and cooperation among countries and peoples in Asia and the international community through the channel and network of political parties.

Our much earlier planned 20th founding anniversary of ICAPP to be held in Istanbul, Turkey last October, 2020 was pushed to October this year. However, as the COVID-19 continues to unleash its dreadful wrath, we are consulting with the members of our organization’s executive committee, which we chair, and our host, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AK Parti, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the best course of action.

Speaking of Turkey, which is home to some 5,000 Filipino workers, we commiserate with the Turkish government and people following the widespread forest conflagrations in the southern and other parts of the country, which ravaged more 100,000 hectares of land, wrecked communities, left thousands of families homeless, and killed several people.

The Justice and Development Party sits in the standing committee of ICAPP, a Philippine-led initiative, which we founded and launched in Manila in September, 2000, and now represents some 350 ruling, opposition and independent political parties from 52 countries in Asia.

When we established ICAPP 21 years ago, only few people thought, including several well-meaning friends, that it would be possible to bring together political parties with different ideologies from Northeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and West Asia. We are pleased, however, that since its inaugural meeting in Manila in 2000, the ICAPP has grown steadily in both membership and influence.

Currently, ICAPP has working partnerships with the political parties of Latin America and the Caribbean under COPPPAL, the Council of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean; the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP); and various political parties of Europe following our creation of ICAPP’s subsidiary group, the Asia Europe Political Forum (AEPF).

In December 2019, two months before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, we had initial discussions with the US Democratic and Republican parties on possible ways and means of cooperation on common issues.

Political parties are important instruments to carry out a nation’s socio-economic and political agenda, promote people’s aspirations and participation, build political consensus, and present alternative solutions to issues and challenges facing a country.

Political parties can and must also complement the efforts of governments and parliaments in advancing common causes besetting the global community such as combating terrorism and violent extremism, battling climate change and environmental degradation, fighting poverty and diseases, reducing geopolitical tensions and conflicts, among others.

However, unlike many countries in Asia and in other regions like North America and Europe, we in the Philippines still have much work to do to enhance political parties in our country.


Just as we in the Philippines and the international community were seeing light at the end of the virulent coronavirus tunnel, the so-called Delta variant struck, supressing earlier optimism that with many people getting vaccinated, we would be able to contain the virus sooner than later.

With the recent spike in COVID-19 cases especially in Metro Manila, we are once again placed under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), which is effectively a total lockdown. Indeed a tough but necessary measure.

Notably, the international community, particularly our Southeast Asian neighbors, are also being ravaged by the Delta variant, with Indonesia reportedly as now Asia’s epicenter of the coronavirus, recording more than 50,000 cases every day.

Vietnam is also experiencing an increase in COVID infection, with more than 7,000 cases daily. The country was hailed last year for its remarkable performance in containing the spread of the virus, with its highly effective and efficient program of screening passengers at airports and a strict quarantine and monitoring program.

Amid the dark COVID-19 cloud hovering around the world is a sense of pride and honor for our country and the Filipino people, thanks to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz who won a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Truly a historic and an outstanding achievement as it was the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines in nearly 100 years.

Nesthy Petecio also made history as the first Filipino female boxer to win an Olympic medal and the Philippines’ second medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Hidilyn Diaz and Nesthy Petecio both demonstrated the indomitability and triumph of the human spirit.