President Rodrigo Roa Duterte addresses the High-Level General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the first time done in a virtual format due to the restrictions posed by the pandemic. Discussions center on the theme, ‘The future we want, the United Nations we need: reaffirming our collective commitment to multilateralism – confronting COVID-19 through effective multilateral action’.

The Chief Executive articulates the country’s positions on a wide range of issues that are of key importance to the Philippines, such as the global response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; peace and security, including terrorism and geopolitical developments in the Asia Pacific; sustainable development and climate change; the rule of law; justice and human rights, including the situation of migrant workers and refugees; peacekeeping and United Nations (UN) reforms.

Watch below.

Below are the highlights of his speech.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC:

The invisible enemy that is Covid-19 has brought about an unfamiliar global landscape and unleashed a crisis without precedent. It is the biggest test the world and the United Nations faced since World War II. In the light of the realities of the present, the Philippines grieves with all of the families all over the world who lost their loved ones to this horrible virus.- We salute all frontliners who put their lives on the line even in countries not their own. So also do we honor and recognize the healthcare professionals who selflessly answered the call to combat the Covid-19 pandemic despite its virulence and unknown characteristics.

The Philippines values the role that the United Nations plays in its fight against the pandemic. As a middle-income country whose economic advances have been derailed by the pandemic, we welcome the launch of the UN COVID Response and Recovery Fund.

Ensuring universal access to anti COVID-19 technologies and products is pivotal in the global pandemic recovery. When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy.

The Philippines joins our partners in the ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement in raising our collective voice: the Covid-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good. Let us be clear on this.

GEOPOLITICAL TENSIONS:

Escalating tensions benefit no one. New flashpoints heighten fears and tend to tear peoples apart. Given the size and military might of the contenders, we can only imagine and be aghast at the terrible toll on human life and property that shall be inflicted if the “word war” deteriorates into a real war of nuclear weapons and missiles.

I therefore call on the stakeholders in the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East and Africa: if we cannot be friends as yet, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much. I heard it once said, and I say it to myself in complete agreement.

RIGHTS OF MIGRANT WORKERS:

In these times, we need stronger cooperation in promoting and protecting the rights of migrants, regardless of their migrant status. We must all adhere to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Unless states include all migrants in their response to this pandemic, “no one among us is safe, until everyone is safe”, as the Secretary-General has said.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte says climate change has worsened the ravages of the pandemic. “Peoples in developing countries like the Philippines suffer the most. We cannot afford to suffer more.”

The Philippines joined the Paris Agreement to fight climate change and called on all parties, especially those who have not made good their commitment to fight climate change, to honor the same.

HUMAN RIGHTS:

The Philippines will continue to protect the human rights of its people, especially from the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.

A number of interest groups have weaponized human rights; some well-meaning, others ill-intentioned. They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support.

These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda. They hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights but the blood oozes through.

BATTLING TERRORISM

Terrorism looms large. As I said at the Aqaba Process, the Philippines will do everything and partner with anyone who would sincerely desire to protect the innocent from terrorism in all its manifestations.

The Marawi siege, where foreign terrorist fighters took part, taught us that an effective legal framework is crucial. Our 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act shores up the legal framework by focusing on both terrorism and the usual reckless response to it. Most importantly, we remain committed to rebuild stricken communities and address the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism in my country.

SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE:

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte says the Philippines affirms that commitment in the South China Sea in accordance with UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award. He said the Award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.

The Philippines “firmly reject” attempts to undermine it and welcomes the increasing number of states that have come in support of the award.

ROHINGYA REFUGEE CRISIS:

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte says the doors of the Philippines are open to everyone fleeing for safety, such as the Rohingyas. He said in the face of a mounting refugee crisis worldwide, nations must work together towards ending the conflicts and conditions that force people to flee their homes.

UN PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS:

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte says the Philippines is committed to increasing the Philippine footprint in UN peacekeeping operations with increased participation of women.

Watch the full session below.

courtesy of PIA

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