Manila Bulletin : ‘There’s more that unite us than divide us’

By Former House Speaker Jose C. De Venecia Jr. | Manila Bulletin


The proclamation of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as president and vice president, respectively, by the Philippine Congress acting as national board of canvassers would now defuse the political acrimony and, hopefully, begin to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”

The early proclamation paves the way for the incoming president to achieve a consensus with the House of Representatives and the Senate on his administration’s legislative agenda, as well as to reach out to our country’s major stakeholders to galvanize support for his programs and other initiatives.

It also provides a good opportunity for him to “hit the ground running” even before he officially assumes the presidency, as the Congress, business community, and other major sectors of our society tend to be more cooperative with a newly-elected chief executive.

At the same time, the incoming president’s choices for Cabinet members, his alter egos, give the Filipino people and the international community an indication of his priorities, leadership style, and commitment in carrying out his campaign promises.

We wish President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio, and the incoming Marcos administration the best as they chart the course for our country and the Filipino people.
Despite our political differences as a nation, “there’s more that unite us than divide us” and that we belong to one country and share a common destiny.

The son of the late Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was a dear friend to our wife Gina and ourself, is now the foreign minister of Pakistan and reportedly the youngest to be appointed to the post.
The 33-year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is also the chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, the political party founded by his maternal grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who served both as prime minister and president of Pakistan.

Our wife Gina and we first met the then 22-year-old Bilawal when he spoke at the conference of ICAPP, the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, in Nanning, China. Like his late beloved mother Benazir, Bilawal is bright, eloquent and outspoken.

Benazir Bhutto, who served as the first women prime minister of Pakistan and in the Muslim world, addressed the founding and launching of our International Conference of Asian Political Parties in Manila on September 2000. Our wife Gina and we were heartbroken when we heard the news of her assassination in December 2007, for she was a dear friend to us.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto comes from a family who has played major roles in Pakistan’s history and continues to do so. Besides his maternal grandfather and mother who both became prime minister, his father, Asif Ali Zaradari, served as president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013.

Speaking of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties, we welcome back our good friend former foreign minister Chung Eui-yong of South Korea, who is our co-chairman in the ICAPP standing committee, ICAPP’s governing body.

Chung, who served as foreign minister and, earlier, national security minister, in the South Korean president Moon Jae-in administration, took a back seat in his duties as ICAPP co-chairman because of the magnitude of his responsibilities as Cabinet minister.

Chung helped negotiate the historic summits in Seoul and Pyongyang between then South Korean president Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018.

ICAPP, which we founded and launched in Manila in September 2000, is now composed of some 350 ruling and opposition parties from 52 countries in Asia, including the major political parties from the Philippines. We are privileged to serve as ICAPP founding chairman and chairman of the standing committee since the year 2000.

In 2006, we decided to transfer the ICAPP secretariat from Manila to Seoul in our humble desire to contribute, even in a modest way, to help foster peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula through the channel of political parties, for South Korea’s mainstream political parties and North Korea’s Workers Party are members of ICAPP.