Press Release
November 28, 2023

Manifestation on PH's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) and the APPF resolution
By Senator Pia S. Cayetano

Thank you, Mr President. Mr President, I'd just like to commend his honor, our Senate President, our Head of Delegation, Sen. Dela Rosa, and everybody who made this a success.

I know that there was a lot of work involved, when you hear the candid reports, parang masaya lang. But what I wanted the public to know is that these kinds of events may make or break a crisis in the future that we will face. Because at the end of the day, these countries are represented by human beings, by people. And no matter what a country stands for, human beings are governed by their emotions. And emotions include deep feelings of friendship, deep trust for certain people. So when we are able to cultivate these kinds of relationships, not just with our neighbors, because the Asia-Pacific includes countries that are not our neighbors. In fact, I was surprised, because this was the first Asia-Pacific event I've been to that included South American countries. So parang naging Asia-Pacific plus, plus. I've never attended an Asia-Pacific organization of any other sort that included that. But it's a bonus.

So these events gave us the opportunity to really cultivate the relationships, and it's very likely that one or more of those who participated over the weekend, who we shared meals with, who we sang songs with, who some colleagues played golf with, will be the future Prime Minister of their country. And the problems we will face in the future are very scary, shortage of water, access to our own bodies of water, which we know is a very sensitive issue, use of resources, access to food supplies, and so on and so forth.

So to have these good relationships, Mr President, this is immeasurable. And I thank his honor for his leadership because you can go to any negotiating table and walk away with nothing. Despite all your good arguments, despite all the universal laws, all the general principles of laws on your side. But you can walk away with nothing. On the other hand, you can walk away with compromises, deals, programs that will benefit our people simply because we forged friendships during this APPF31 and the past one, and in the future.

So I truly commend his honor for his leadership. Our Head of Delegation. And there was lots of hard work that had to happen. I know his honor met with every delegation, talagang pati membership natin sa Security Council napag-usapan, and our Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. Loren Legarda, worked so hard in the drafting committee. It's not easy, Mr President, I don't know if it was brought up, I don't know if she took the floor, she didn't take the floor, 'no? But it was not an easy task, let's put this on record, because there were very strong differences in opinions. China is a member of APPF, they have a different stand on how to handle the West Philippine Sea issue, we have a very strong stand, but we were able to come up with language. Mr. President, if we can replicate what we did in APPF, in every other stage, we are going to be better off. Because at the end of the day, through tiyaga, leadership, patience, we were able to find compromises.

In my own little way, in the Committee on Women, although we did not talk about security issues, we women and gender advocates always say, and I am looking at our Deputy Minority Floor Leader, when you empower women, you are also able to strengthen all the other sustainable development goals. So we had those similar debates also in the Women's Committee. And we also had from my perspective, makikita niyo po ang alignment of forces during the debates. But I am also happy to report, which I already reported to the Senate President, that we were also able to resolve it, in the same spirit of understanding where one was coming from, taking a pause, and then understanding where the other one is coming from, and at the end of the day, makikiusap po tayo na, okay lang ba na we move forward with the language proposed by this group? And then in the end, pumayag sila.

So I think the Philippines has a big role, not just now, but in the future, on world peace. And again, I thank the President for his leadership, and everybody who participated in all their different ways, including and most especially our Secretariat, and executive agencies that assisted us. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

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