The first week-and-a-half of August 2017 witnessed a flurry of ASEAN activities here in Manila. Considerably so, since the Philippines is the Chairman of ASEAN 2017 with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World”.
We had the 32nd Meeting of the High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings, the Grand Commemorative Celebration of [email protected], the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post-Ministerial Conferences, the 18th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Meeting/7th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting/24th ASEAN Regional Forum, and the first-ever ASEAN Media Forum, just to name a few.
Almost every aspect of ASEAN was covered in those one-and-a-half weeks or so, from foreign policy to economic integration, from media affairs to performing arts, from human rights to breastfeeding.
Of course, all these would not have been possible if not for the hard work and dedication of Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of ASEAN 2017 on behalf of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The key to ASEAN nowadays is integration, but, for this to work, laws of each member-state must be harmonized. This is where the importance of the ASEAN Law Association or ALA comes in.
This is not the first time I am writing about ALA here, being the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Legal Information of ALA Philippines. Established in 1979, it is a non-government organization that brings together all the members of the legal profession in the region. It is the only private entity recognized by ASEAN and counts top justices and lawyers as its members, including the chief justices of the respective member-states.
The first and founding president was former Senate President and Executive Secretary Edgardo J. Angara Sr., while the current president is lawyer Avelino V. Cruz. Both are founding partners of the ACCRA law , the firm I joined after law school as part of its legendary Litigation Group.
The ALA Governing Council will hold its Commemorative Meeting on 26-28 October 2017 here in Manila. As such, the members of the Philippine National Committee, headed by its Chairman, retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, have been meeting regularly for the event. The most-recent National Committee meeting this August was hosted by ALA-PNC Deputy Secretary-General Atty. Ricardo C. Bernabe and his wife, the gracious Supreme Court Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.
The Philippine National Committee counts as its members Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, retired PEZA Director-General Lilia B. de Lima, UP Law Professor Myrna S. Feliciano who also edits the ALA Journal, Atty. Avelino V. Cruz, Atty. Alonzo Q. Ancheta who also serves as ALA-PNC Vice-Chairman, UP President Danilo L. Concepcion, Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista, retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, retired Chief Justice Reynato C. Puno, Past Senate President Edgardo J. Angara, and Past Senate President Franklin M. Drilon who also chairs the ALA Foundation.
It is also worthy to note that just last year, some members of the Duterte Cabinet who have been active with ALA through the years, were inducted as Minister-Representatives of the Philippines to the ALA Governing Council, namely: Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II; Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade; Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo Salalima; PAGCOR President and COO Alfredo C. Lim; and Solicitor General Jose C. Calida.
Other officers of the ALA Philippine National Committee, aside from those already mentioned, are: Atty. Victoria C. de los Reyes, Secretary; Atty. Regina Padilla Geraldez, Treasurer; and Atty. Victoria V. Loanzon, Assistant Secretary. The Advisory Council is composed of: Past Senate President Edgardo J. Angara; former Secretary of Justice Ricardo C. Puno; retired Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr.; Atty. Teresita C. Sison; retired Supreme Court Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing; and Dean Bartolome S. Carale.
The ALA Governing Council Commemorative Meeting in October is just one of the activities to be held in preparation for the 31st ASEAN Summit and related meetings in November of this year.
We can only wish the ALA and all other ASEAN organizing efforts by the host country all the best in their preparations.