DAGUPAN CITY — Former House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. said the International Conference on Political Parties (ICAPP) of which he is the founding chairman and chairman of its standing committees, is endorsing the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the holding of a Global Interfaith Dialogue and joint development of claimant countries in the South China Sea to settle their disputes.

In a Christmas and New Year’s message he e-mailed to the media on December 25, De Venecia said ICAPP called on all its members composed of 340 ruling, opposition and independent political parties from 52 countries, to support the historic universal agreement on climate change signed recently in Paris, France.

De Venecia, the only five-time speaker of the Philippines’ House of Representatives, called climate change as “perhaps the most challenging problem facing our planet Earth”.

“As we approach the New Year 2016, we send you our sincerest Christmas Greetings and thank the Almighty for His many blessings, above all, for the great breakthrough in Paris, the historic universal agreement on climate change, perhaps the most challenging problem facing our planet earth,” he said in a Christmas and New Year message he e-mailed to newsmen on December 25, that also touched a wide range of issues affecting the world today.

In supporting the Paris Accord, De Venecia echoed the statement of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that “there is “no Plan B” for the human race; for there is just no alternative for the rich and poor countries, if the deal in Paris among 200 nations fell apart”.

“Today, we at the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), representing some 340 ruling, opposition, and independent parties from 52 countries in Asia, and our fraternal sister organization in Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), and the African organization we encouraged to set up, the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP), call on our colleagues in Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Africa to assist our governments, parliaments, private sectors and our citizens to ratify as needed and actively support the agreement that will help us mitigate and adapt to the ravages of climate change,” he said.

De Venecia said ICAPP is restructuring its recently established Global Parties Climate and Ecological Alliance (GPCEA), composed of political parties and civil society organizations, as a united effort in the battle against climate change and hopefully serve as a modest contribution to the Paris accord. Its first committee has just been set up in Beijing.

The former Speaker also said that with the violence in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, ICAPP is urging the revival of the Global Interfaith Dialogue which he helped initiate at the U.N. in 2004, through an “Interfaith Summit,” among Christians, Muslim Shi’ites and Sunnis, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and other religious groups to reduce the unspeakable continuing violence and the politico-religious conflicts and tensions in various parts of the world.

“We declare anew that we want no new Cold War in the Asia Pacific. Nor do we wish any state in our home-region to play either the “American Card” or the “China Card” or the “Russian Card.” We see no reason the relationship among the great powers should be adversarial. We see no differences among them that sustained diplomacy, sincerity, humility, understanding and realpolitik cannot resolve,” he said.

On a related issue, ICAPP suggested that European Union and the U.N. sit down together on a solution for the raging tragedy of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing from the wars in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

At the same time, he said ICAPP endorses and supports China’s revival of the ancient overland Silk Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives, which symbolize our ‘connectedness’ across distinct cultures, even competing economies — and even conflicting geopolitical ambitions.

“We see in this cross-cultural exchange through trade and economic and political partnership and people-to-people symbioses the major forces needed in the battle against poverty and violent extremism, and the promise of inclusive mutual prosperity and durable peace in our region, in the world, and in our time,” he added.

At the start of 2016, he said, ICAPP also welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community as a major milestone in regional economic integration.

He said that on April, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia the standing committees of the ICAPP, the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), and the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP), will hold an historic trilateral meeting, which is a great first step towards a tri-continental alliance among the political parties of Asia, Latin America and Africa, and which he hopes will eventually lead to a global grouping with the parties in Europe and North America.

This has been a major effort of the ICAPP Standing Committee, the 4-man Bureau, and our active Secretariat based in Seoul, he said.

Meanwhile, De Venecia said the raging disagreement in the South China Sea with conflicting sovereignty claims, may be settled by temporarily shelving the issue of sovereignty, undertaking joint exploration and joint development, as he earlier proposed in 2004-2005, to revive what he called the 3-nation Seismic Agreement officially signed and undertaken by Manila, Beijing, and Hanoi in 2005-2006, and then convert the zone of conflict into a Zone of Peace, Friendship, Cooperation and Development.

At the same time, he said whatever the result of the arbitration case pending in the U.N. Tribunal, there is a need for China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan to sit down on a reasonable acceptable geo-political settlement in the South China Sea, which will benefit all the parties, relieve the pressure on the frontline states of China, the Philippines and Vietnam, and which could also be the basis for a similar settlement in the East China Sea between Japan and China in the Senkaku Straits, the Daioyou Straits to the Chinese.

Founded in Manila in September 2000, ICAPP, he said, is pleased to note that it has broadened and deepened its reach, with the creation of the now active ICAPP Women’s Wing and the ICAPP Youth Wing; the ICAPP Medical Emergency Forum (IMEF), recently renamed ICAPP Program for Disasters Assistance (IPDA); the newly-created ICAPP-COPPPAL Business Council (ICBC), composed of business leaders from Asia and Latin America, which aims to expand business cooperation and linkage between the two continents.

The former Speaker also said with the ICAPP Media Forum. ICAPP is also activating its ties with the Asian Parliamentary Assembly (APA), composed of 41 parliaments in Asia, which the ICAPP helped initiate and establish, and which could someday lead to an Asian Parliament, like the regional legislatures of Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

In the Philippines.

De Venecia said ICAPP supports President Benigno Aquino III’s breakthrough peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and asked Congress to finally pass the legislation to implement the peace accord to neutralize extremists seeking to radicalize peaceful Muslim elements in the south.

“We urge revival as well of the government peace talks with the Communist New People’s Army, the longest running insurgency in Asia. Even as we look back to what we were able to do—with your steadfast support, understanding, friendship and unwavering commitment in 2015, we look forward to the challenges of 2016 and the future, confident we shall be together in contributing our modest capabilities in charting a better future for our peoples, our region and the world, and in promoting our dream of the 21st Century as a truly Asian Century.

The former Speaker signed the Christmas and New Year’s Message with his wife, Pangasinan’s Fourth District Congresswoman Gina de Venecia, president of the Association of Women Legislators of the Philippine House of Representatives. Leonardo Micua/PNA/