Posted on 2004

3rd International Conference of Asian Political Parties
Beijing China

In behalf of the Nacionalista Party of the Philippines, I extend warm brotherly greetings to the Communist Party of China and to other political parties in Asia that are ably represented in this important international conference.

The Nacionalista Party of the Philippines deeply shares the aspiration of the Organizing Committee of the 3rd International Conference of Asian Political Parties to strengthen the bridge of friendship and cooperation among countries in Asia.

We strongly subscribe to the ideals of fostering a culture of partnership and promoting consensus among Asian political parties as articulated in the 1st ICAPP held in Manila in 2000 and the 2nd ICAPP in Bangkok 2002. It is our hope that this 3rd ICAPP here in Beijing will contribute another milestone in our journey to a shared rewarding future.

While our respective governments are the main instruments in fulfilling the theme of this 3rd ICAPP, still the role of Asian political parties cannot be relegated to the background.

Whether a political party is in charge of managing the affairs of government or placed in a minority position, it serves a vital function of linking the people to the dynamics of the complex political process. Since the stated goals of the 1st, 2nd and the 3rd ICAPP’s require the involvement of peoples of Asia, Asian political parties are essential to the whole undertaking.

Before I dwell on the discussion topics of regional security and multilateral cooperation, economic growth and social progress, political party building and national development, allow me to give a brief profile of the political party I represent.

The Nacionalista Party of the Philippines is the oldest political party in my country.

It was founded and organized in the early period of the American colonial administration. Its central platform was to gain political independence. It was the lifetime obsession of Manuel Quezon, its illustrious leader. He campaigned actively for Philippine emancipation in the House of Representatives of the United States. And even after we Filipinos had regained our freedom in 1946, the Nacionalista Party carried on the struggle for Philippine economic independence. Among those who had served as President of the Philippines were six leaders of the Nacionalista Party.

Today, the Nacionalista Party is future-oriented and outbound in its perspective. It is in this context that I propose to share the party’s views regarding the designated topics of this conference.

Regional Security and Multilateral Cooperation

The tragedy that swept through the United States on September 11, 2002, seen on millions of television monitors throughout the world, brought closer to home the clear and present danger of global terrorism.

No country is safe. No city is secure. The principals and agents of terrorism recognize no borders. They have expanded their battleground to include the whole planet.

Everybody, barring none, is a potential victim.

On the crosshair of terrorism’s weapon of destruction is not just the Americans or those from the so-called “Coalition of the Willing.” The target is anybody whose brutal extinction will instill universal fear of terrorists and their capacity to strike anywhere, anytime.

The whole world must never be held hostage by the forces of terrorism.

Countries in Asia must join forces for their collective protection against the threat of terrorism. Regional security is our common concern. We need multilateral cooperation.

In our desire to address regional security concerning terrorism, it must be stressed that a purely military approach is not sufficient.

The terrorist threat to our regional security is menacing, because it often comes without warning, defies the rules of engagement in civilized conflict.

Among the practical measures that can be considered under a multilateral cooperation arrangement are united and coordinated efforts to prevent cross-border movements of suspected terrorists, freezing of bank accounts of fronts of terrorism in order to stop the flow of funding for their operations, the adoption of a common policy of denying sanctuary to terrorists, and sharing of timely intelligence. The political parties in Asia can help their respective governments in eliciting popular participation in the fight against terrorism.

In this fight, we should likewise address its root causes so that we may be able to find long-term remedies. It is important for us to understand the breeding ground for terrorism.

Why are there terrorists in the first place? What are their motives? What are their grievances? If terrorism is a symbol and symptom of desperation, can we not ask ourselves in the spirit of humility if we have singly or collectively contributed in any way to that despair?

Ultimately, we can only win the war against terrorism if we have a vision that is better and bigger than its limited dream of hate and violence. There is no space for potential terrorists in a season of peace, fellowship and hope in the world.

Economic Growth and Social Progress

Our growing awareness that we all live in a global village, that we are all neighbors with common problems and a shared future, places a country’s economic development agenda in a broader geopolitical context. This realization has been the guiding principle behind the creation of many institutions of multilateral cooperation.

For all the desirability of growing economically together, countries in Asia are at various stages of economic development, with some moving forward faster than others. Moreover, the many similarities in the agricultural economies of many Asian countries constitute a challenge to a regional growth agenda that works best in a framework of complementation.

At the country level, the economic growth momentum is hampered in a less advanced economy by a highly centralized decision-making, a high incidence of poverty, limited access by farmers and small entrepreneurs to credit the other support facilities, and lack of a competitive position or comparative advantage in the global marketplace.

Trade liberalization, for all its intended benefits for the global economy, has not been a net blessing to small players. Weaker economics cannot compete head-on with those with better financial resources, research and development activities, and more expanded marketing networks.

Where economic growth is measurable in a less developed country in terms of standard indices and parameters, still much remains to be done in the area of social progress.

Indeed, from a social standpoint, a higher GNP or GDP is meaningless unless it is translated to a commensurate improvement in the level of popular literacy and employment, and in the quality and the delivery of essential services to a large majority.

To sustain economic development and at the same time extend its blessings to more people, the creative energies of as many individuals as possible must be unleashed and harnessed.

This calls for an “entrepreneurial revolution,” a shift in paradigm from being a more passive observer to an active creator of wealth.

We need to create a critical mass of achievers who will not only enhance the economic potentials of their countries, but also improve their respective social landscapes as well.

An “entrepreneurial revolution” requires a supportive environment where the policies of government are friendly to small and micro enterprises and where credit and technical support facilities are available, accessible and affordable.

There is much to learn from the experiences of our more successful neighbors in Asia.

Political Party Building and National Development

No political party can last long and survive the sweeping changes that cut across geographical boundaries without firming up its foundation as an organization. It cannot bask in the glory of its past or it will miss the opportunity of carving its own future. Hence, it is essential for any political party to keep on renewing itself.

Central to organizational continuity is the need to reaffirm party relevance. This requires introspection, an honest assessment of the strengths as well as the shortcomings of the party, an understanding of present as well as emerging threats and opportunities, defining and articulating a new vision, and planning for the future.

In political party building, a recurring question that is often asked by potential members is: Why should representatives of various sectors of society join a particular political party?

What is there in the party platform that appeals to the idealism of the youth and the interests of farmers, entrepreneurs and professionals? Of those already in the party, are they generally perceived as models? What has the party done to make society better?

To address these questions and related concerns, a party that wants to broaden the base of its membership needs effective communicators who can articulate with conviction the party’s organizational relevance, ideals and accomplishments.

Party building that aims to recruit new members outside the field of politics is a long and very challenging process. It is in many ways a marketing function.

Hence, field “sales persons” are needed who will introduce the party as a “product” with its “unique selling points.” Before actual marketing begins, it helps conduct a “market” research so that those in “product development” and “sales” can tailor the “product” to the preferences of the “market.”

When the members of the party’s “sales” force are out on field assignments, they must be equipped with all the necessary information tools. Feedback from the field must be conveyed to the party’s main office for evaluation and correction.

Once new members are taken in, they must go through a meaningful initiation process that explains the party’s mission and vision statements, its brief history, the party emblem or symbolism, and the duties of members in a party structure.

Beyond the initiation is a continuing party education program. In this regard, the party may have its own informal academy where lectures and presentations on different topics and issues of general and specific interests are conducted on a sustained basis for the enlightenment of party members.

In whatever role or capacity a political party may find itself in, it cannot dissociate its overriding goal from the task of national development. No political party can exist separately from its objective of contributing to the well-being of the nation.

Specifically, what can a political party as an organization contribute to the national development?

Certain mechanisms are in place for this purpose. First, the party platform ideally is a strategy of national development through policy directions regarding the economy and governance.

Second, the party has among its members individuals who can implement the development strategy once it is entrusted with managing the affairs of government.

Third, the party through its networking can mobilize people to have a voice in the quality of governance through their active involvement in political processes.

And fourth, the party, by instilling discipline and loyalty among its members, by focusing on its mission and vision rather than on personalities, and by providing a training ground for future leaders from a broad spectrum of society, becomes a stabilizing factor in an uncertain world.

Thank you.

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