Philippines to propose Southeast Asian AI regulatory framework for ASEAN

The Philippines plans to propose a Southeast Asian regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI) based on its draft legislation, aiming to present it to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during its 2026 chairmanship.

The Philippines is gearing up to propose the establishment of a Southeast Asian regulatory framework for artificial intelligence (AI), drawing from its draft legislation. Martin Romualdez, the Speaker of Congress, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the Philippines plans to present this legal framework to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during its chairmanship in 2026.

Romualdez emphasized the significance of digitization in the country’s economic policy and highlighted the importance of addressing concerns related to generative artificial intelligence alongside cybersecurity. He expressed the intention to offer the proposed legal framework as a “gift” to ASEAN, aiming to optimize AI developments within a supportive regulatory framework.

The move to regulate generative AI aligns with global efforts as regulators worldwide work to establish rules governing the technology. Generative AI has the potential to reshape industries, generating both excitement and apprehension about its impact.

However, implementing a regulatory framework for AI within ASEAN may present challenges due to the region’s diverse rules governing censorship, intellectual property, misinformation, social media, and internet usage across its ten member countries.

The Philippine proposal stands in contrast to the prevailing approach in ASEAN, where countries have generally adopted a business-friendly stance on AI regulation. A draft of an ASEAN guide to AI ethics and governance in October revealed a voluntary approach, aiming to reduce compliance burdens and foster innovation in the region.

Romualdez underscored the particular importance of legislation on generative AI for the Philippines, citing its vulnerable business process outsourcing sector, which faces growing threats. He noted the need for a transformation in personnel and upskilling to support generative AI, emphasizing the logical direction for the industry’s future.

In light of the evolving landscape, Romualdez emphasized the responsibility of the Philippine Congress to formulate a legal framework that not only suits the Philippines but is also suitable for the broader ASEAN region. As countries grapple with the complexities of AI regulation, the Philippines’ proactive approach signals a push toward comprehensive regional guidelines to navigate the transformative impact of artificial intelligence. As the Philippines takes the lead in proposing a Southeast Asian AI regulatory framework, the move reflects a proactive stance amid the global quest to balance innovation with ethical and legal considerations in the realm of artificial intelligence.