Delegation to the 125th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
(IPU) in front of the Swiss Parliament in Berne, 16 October
2011. From L to R: Amb. Evan Garcia, Senator Franklin Drilon,
Senator Gregorio Honasan, Cong. Mylene Garcia-Albano, Amb. Leslie J.
Baja, Senator Vicente Sotto, Cong. Victor Ortega, and Cong.
Philippine and Swiss Democracies at Work
in 125th IPU Assembly in Berne
Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja reported that the
125th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) was opened on 16
October in Berne by Swiss President Micheline Calmy Rey and UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Mrs Calmy Rey said that the IPU
has a role to play in finding solutions to problems faced by the
international community. For his part, Mr Ban urged
parliamentarians to help restore trust of their citizens in the wake of
the global financial crisis and other problems confronting the world.
The meeting, which is being hosted by the Swiss parliament, is being
attended by close to 1,400 delegates from 140 parliaments. The
Philippine Congress is represented by 4 senators (Vicente Sotto as head
of delegation, Franklin Drilon, Gregorio Honasan and Panfilo Lacson)
and 5 congressmen (Victor Ortega as lead House delegate, Georgina de
Venecia, Mylene Garcia-Albano, Nelson Collantes and Rodel Batocabe).
Agenda of the IPU include nuclear disarmament, Middle East and North
Africa, regulation of the financial markets, global governance, access
to health care for women and children and the green economy. This
is the 4th time that the IPU in its 122 year history is holding its
assembly in Berne. The first was in 1892 and the last one in
1952. The Philippines has been an active participant in the IPU
and hosted in 2005 the IPU Assembly in Manila.
In welcoming the senators and congressmen to Berne, Ambassador Baja
noted that Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies in the world
and the Philippines is the oldest in Asia. He expressed the hope
that the Philippine participation will result in greater linkages
between these two democracies given that they share values of
democracy, human rights, justice and rule of law.
The Philippines and Switzerland have warm and close relations
highlighted by these shared democratic values. Official ties
between the Philippines and Switzerland started almost 150 years ago in
1862 with the opening of the first Swiss consular representation in
Manila. Diplomatic relations were established on 30 August 1956
or 55 years ago. Since then, relations have prospered with over
60 Swiss companies doing business in the Philippines with over USD 2
billion in investments and annual trade of about USD500 million.