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Senate President Vicente Sotto III cited the continued functioning of parliaments amid the unprecedented coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) health emergency, during the meeting of the Asia Pacific Group (APG) of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Friday.

Sotto presided over the virtual APG meeting, which was also attended by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Congresswoman Anne Hofer, chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, all members of the Philippine Delegation to the Governing Council.

Joining the meeting were members of parliament from Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Singapore, and Thailand.

“We meet today under extraordinary times. Despite the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we all continue to try our best to perform our duties and responsibilities to our constituents. We must continue to keep parliament open and functioning,” he said.

During the meeting, Sotto also announced that following the alphabetical rotation, the Republic of Korea is next in line to hold the chairmanship of the 36-member APG-IPU for 2021.

The other members of the APG-IPU are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Fiji, Japan, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Palau, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.

The APG is one of six geopolitical groups in the IPU. The others are the Africa, Arab, Eurasia, and Latin America and the Caribbean groups, as well as the so-called “Twelve Plus” Group consisting mostly of the Western European countries.

Sotto urged the APG-IPU’s participation in the governing council meetings starting November 1.

The IPU Governing Council will hold its four-day extraordinary virtual session on November 1 to 4, where a new IPU president to replace Gabriela Cuevas Barron of Mexico will be elected. (PNA)

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