MANILA – Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday called on members of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Caucus to cooperate towards a multi-sectoral and whole-of-Asean approach for an effective response to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In his opening address during the 11th AIPA Caucus hosted by the Philippines, Cayetano urged the Asean lawmakers to move beyond efforts to contain the pandemic in their respective territories and embrace a similar sense of urgency to push for regional economic recovery.

“There is no better and more opportune time for the parliaments, nations, and peoples of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to cooperate, as very good neighbors and friends, to help one another in this time of the pandemic,” Cayetano said.

“This will require close coordination across sectors and community pillars, as well as dialogues with various stakeholders,” he added.

Cayetano said the challenges the member countries face today give AIPA the profound opportunity to adapt and readjust for a “more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable recovery and growth” for the Asean region.

“Protecting the health and safety of our peoples must also be our utmost priority,” he said.

Cayetano highlighted the legislative initiatives done by the Philippine Congress to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, such as the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” which enabled the Philippine government to implement emergency relief measures during the enhanced community quarantine.

“As a result of this law, we have aggressively increased our capacity to conduct more tests per capita, rigorous contact tracing, and treatment to all patients,” he said.

Cayetano told the AIPA members that Congress is set to pass a new measure, known as the “Bayanihan to Recover as One,” to provide a proactive response and recovery interventions.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have already approved their respective versions of the measure and will soon finalize it through a bicameral conference committee.

Cayetano noted that the House is also working on other proposals to prepare the country for future pandemics and crises: such as alternative work arrangements; regulations to optimize the digital economy; and pump-priming infrastructure activities for health, education, agriculture, and micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises’ livelihood that can generate a valuable multiplier effect on the economy.

This is the first-ever virtual caucus meeting of the AIPA, which carries the theme “We Heal as One: Parliamentary Cooperation towards Mitigating Risks and Strengthening Economic Resilience in the Period of Pandemic”.

For this year’s caucus, AIPA aims to deepen parliamentary coordination on the pandemic’s economic impact in Southeast Asia.

It also seeks to assist in facilitating dialogues and consultations among member parliaments on economic recovery and resilience as well as on other reforms towards boosting the capability of member nations to overcome similar crises in the future. (PNA)