Press Release
March 16, 2023

Pia reports highlights of official trip to the 146th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) held in Manama, Bahrain
Privilege speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano, March 15, 2023

Thank you, Mr President. I just arrived from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Manama, Bahrain today. And I'd like to report to our colleagues and to the Filipino people what we did there.

Mr President, I was sent by the Senate President to attend the IPU's 146th Assembly in Manama, Bahrain. Take note, dear colleagues,that this is the 146th. I first attended the 112th. So marami na. But hindi naman yan one per year. Two per year. So, that was in 2005, your honors.

So fast-forward to today, we attended the ASEAN+3 Meetings and then the Asia-Pacific Group Meetings. And I took the floor to promote our hosting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum in November. I took the opportunity to promote our hosting in these two meetings. And also at the APG meeting, my candidacy for a member in the Standing Committee on the United Nations Affairs was approved. So I will now be a representative of the Asia-Pacific Group for this Committee. And it so happened that there was a vacancy for the Sustainable Development group, so ora-orada, we submitted a handwritten nomination for Congresswoman Rachel Arenas [of Pangasinan's third district]. And she is now our representative. So I think it is timely that two women, one from the Senate and one from the House will be representing not just the Philippines, but the Asia-Pacific Region in these two committees, your honors.

Next, your honors, on that same day, I had the opportunity to attend the Women Parliamentary Meeting, which is always held a day before the official opening. So you will see photos there of me more than 10 years ago, and me today.

And in many ways, the issues are the same, which is good and bad. Good, because we are not letting go until discriminatory practices, until obstacles are removed. It can be frustrating, your honors, to the extent that after all this time, there are still countries that have a lot of issues. And we have our own, there is no country that's perfect. We are one of those who are still continually trying to address discriminatory practices. But it's important that we continue to keep aware of all of this.

The specific topic was: Parliamentary Leadership in Addressing Insecurity and Crises: Putting Gender Equality at the Center of Water Security, Climate Resilience and Peace Sustainability. As your honors know, we are one of the few parliaments in the whole world that has a Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. So we took the opportunity to discuss this. But it serves also as a reminder to this representation, which I share with the body, that we should always look at our bills from a gender lens as well. Because when we can truly ensure that women are represented well, that women's concerns are addressed, then we know that it is a sign that there is true democracy and true partnership between men and women.

Moving on, your honors, there was also a WHO Side Event on "Leveraging the Role of Parliamentarians towards [Universal Health Care]." And I was a speaker, I was part of the expert panel, sharing our experiences on health financing, particularly on the sin tax laws that we have passed over the past few years. So I delivered my intervention there.

And then, of course, as your head of delegation, I attended the Governing Council session and delivered our statement during the General Plenary. I had the support of our colleagues from the House of Representatives, your honors.

Finally, I attended one more session on UN Affairs, where I was not yet officially a member of, because my membership starts in October. But I was able to attend as an observer and a participant. And I also made my statement there during that session.

I also put on record that I had the opportunity to meet with a colleague who is the President of UNITE, a Network of Parliamentarians for Global Health. I am the Chapter Chair for the Asia-Pacific, and UNITE has an observer status in the IPU. The Majority Floor Leader seems to have some questions. I will happily answer his questions later on. I still have the floor, your honors.

So I think I have covered all. I'd just like to add also that there are approximately 54,000 Filipino nationals in Bahrain. We had the full support of the Embassy of course, [and] the Senate Secretariat, my staff as well, and I took the opportunity to greet all our kababayans who were very happy to see us because hindi naman daw ganun kadalas may bumibisita doon. Ang mga andyan na Pilipino ay nagtatrabaho doon. You see them all over, usually in the retail establishments. From the coffee shops, furniture shops, yung isang picture d'yan furniture shop yun. And even in the IPU itself, the people manning the coffee booths were Filipinos, your honor. So it's true that you can find Filipinos all over the world.

So on that note, your honor, I submit this report and I will be sharing more learnings in the course of debates, because I always come home with more learnings having met different parliamentarians coming from all over the world. Thank you, your honor.

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