Privilege speech on the Philippine Senate’s participation at the 143rd assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
January 26, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. I believe it’s very important that we report on this trip. This is a practice I have learned from the late Senator Nene Pimentel, to be very detailed in our reports so that we can also share our learnings with our colleagues and the Filipino people.
I will make this brief, Mr. President, in the interest of time. But I will submit a full report to each of your offices, complete with pictures, and then I will also submit my speech into the record. So let me begin.
Mr. President, I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege.
Last November 26 to 30, 2021, I took part in the 143rd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly and Related Meetings in Madrid, Spain, as the sole representative of the Philippine Senate.
This year’s theme was “Contemporary Challenges to Democracy: Overcoming Division and Building Community.” The IPU Members adopted the Madrid Declaration, which calls for a new approach to democracy with a renewed commitment to core democratic values, inclusiveness, and problem-solving.
Of course, these debates took place amidst COVID and we were swift to tackle policies based on evidence to immediately respond to emergencies and mitigate the negative impact of this unprecedented health event. It was discussed that all countries had sadly observed that this had negative effects on the democratic process, [thus] the need to act urgently. And these challenges were further aggravated by COVID itself.
During the General Plenary Debate, which I participated in, I stressed that our response to these challenges must be long-lasting solutions that incorporate the concept of intergenerational fairness, so that it will have a positive effect on the next generations.
Intergenerational fairness is the concept of justice among generations, which is the foundation of sustainable development, in the use and conservation of the environment and its natural resources, cultural resources, and the proper way to approach economic and social problems.
I also cited various Senate initiatives, such as the creation of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking that is focused on monitoring progress in sustainable development and mainstreaming futures thinking.
Always a topic in the IPU is women’s representation. I reported that 28% of the members of the House of Representatives and 29% of our Senators are women.
This places the Philippines at the 61st spot out of 188 countries, in terms of women representation in parliament, according to the latest IPU Report. This is the highest number ever achieved in the Philippine Senate.
We also discussed misinformation and fake news. We had discussions on education, regarding the quality of education and the challenges during COVID, and climate change. Again, the details are in my report, your honor.
During the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, we discussed a Resolution entitled “Legislation Worldwide to Combat Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse from a Gender Perspective.” I joined two (2) meetings that discussed the following:
One, on child exploitation, I shared reports that confirmed cases of online child exploitation in the Philippines, where children are being sexually exploited by adults within their own households.
On abuse from a gender perspective, I decided to share an interesting reality in the Philippines, wherein we have millions of women and mothers who leave the country to make a living and serve as nurses, as doctors, and as household helps in other countries, in other homes, the effect of which is that they leave their own families behind. And this has had repercussions that will for generations have to be dealt with.
During the meeting of the Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, we discussed the global vaccination campaign to end the COVID-19 pandemic. I mentioned in my intervention how the Philippine Senate has been instrumental in engaging our government on the adequate procurement and prompt delivery of vaccines, and ensuring enough budget for COVID-19 vaccines.
To stress the importance of vaccine equity, I highlighted that we continue to prioritize our healthcare workers for vaccination and financial protection, given that they are put in high-risk situations at the forefront of the battle against the virus.
During the discussion of a Resolution on an Emergency Item, the IPU Member Parliaments unanimously backed the African Group’s Resolution, which calls for global parliamentary support for vaccine equity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the High-Level Advisory Group discussion on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, I initially expressed my intention to vie for the vacant position at the IPU’s High-Level Advisory Group [on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism], as one of the representatives of the Asia-Pacific Group.
I have had the opportunity to engage in security studies, thus my interest in this matter.
However, During the Assembly, this representation was approached by the Honorable Eva Abdulla, Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, the Parliament of the Maldives, who sought our support in her bid for the same position. She recounted her country’s, as well as her own experiences, of the surge of extremist ideas and actions in the Maldives, which included death threats on their Speaker and herself.
I felt that the proper thing to do, your honor, was to give way and support the Deputy Speaker for the aforementioned position. She was very thankful for this initiative on our part and committed to also support us in future endeavors.
This representation likewise had Other Bilateral Side Meetings with:
•The Honorable Meera Alsuwaidi, Member of the U.A.E.’s Federal National Council and a ranking Member of the IPU’s Bureau of Women Parliamentarians.
•Senator Gabriel Cuevas Barron of Mexico, immediate past president of the IPU.
•And the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PF-SALW), Ms. Karin Oloffson, whom I have met in 2018 in another conference.
I also had the opportunity to visit the exhibit of National Artist Kidlat Tahimik, who is showcasing Philippine history at the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid, Spain, something we can be very, very proud of.
In closing, I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to represent the Senate of the Philippines and express our views on various important issues. I remain a supporter of global affiliation and continue to learn from colleagues across the globe, who encounter similar concerns that we have in the Philippines. Our participation in the IPU Assembly is important now, more than ever, considering that learning from each other and working together is vital in our survival from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other future public health events.
With that, I thank you again, your honor, and I will submit this speech and my newsletter to every office of our colleagues.
Thank you, your honor. #