Address to the 76th Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly
September 2021, New York, NY
I congratulate you on your election and welcome your “Presidency of
Hope." Indeed, that is what we need in these challenging times.
For nearly two years now, the pandemic has upended our lives. The
climate crisis has worsened, inequalities have deepened, and the
geopolitical balance is in a state of dangerous flux.
Certainly, these are complex problems. But one
thing is clear -- they all
hit the poor the hardest. Injustice is the common thread that ties these issues
I spoke before this august body last year, I
said that how we
address these issues will define our future.
From what I have seen, that future will likely be
one of inequality -- where
the poor plays catch-up with the rich, with no hope nor chance of ever
succeeding in closing the gap.
We cannot, in all conscience, allow this to happen. An unjust order is
We have to reverse course.
How then do we, as governments, reconcile our obligations to our own
citizens with our responsibility to the rest of humanity?
For the Philippines, we understand that we need to
expand our notion of
‘us’ beyond the nation, so we can work together to secure our common future.
We recognize that only inclusive multilateralism can deliver the global
public goods we need.
And we believe that fairness, equality and respect should always be the
basis of our engagement with one another.
Only with these can we correct the injustices that doom the downtrodden all over
the world to a life of indignity. And for thousands during this pandemic --
Mr. President, the picture is bleak. There is a man-made drought of
vaccines ravaging poor countries.
Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for
trickles. They now talk of booster shots, while developing countries consider
half-doses just to get by.
This is shocking beyond belief and must be condemned for what it is -- a
selfish act that can neither be justified rationally nor morally.
The plain fact is -- this pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated
everywhere. Vaccines are key to achieving this.
This is why the Philippines committed One Million Dollars to the UN’s
COVAX Facility. This is our modest contribution to our collective fight against
We strongly urge our privileged partners to fully support the COVAX
Facility and further strengthen other cooperation mechanisms. We need this to
save more lives, break the cycle of variants and help ensure global economic
Just as COVID-19 has had an uneven impact on peoples, climate change
has also exposed the varying vulnerabilities of countries around the globe. The
risks and burden of a warming climate are simply not the same for everyone.
The greatest injustice here is that those who suffer the most are those the
least responsible for this existential crisis.
But here we are now at a critical tipping point, where failure to act leads
to cataclysmic consequences for the whole of humankind.
The Philippines accepts its share of
responsibility and will do its part to
avert this collective disaster. We have submitted our first Nationally
Determined Contribution, with a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75%
I issued a moratorium on the construction of new coal power plants and
a directive to explore the nuclear energy option.
But this contribution will be rendered useless if the biggest polluters --
past and present -- choose to do ‘business as usual’. We therefore appeal for
urgent climate action, especially from those that can truly tip the balance.
Developed countries must fulfill their
longstanding commitment to
climate financing, technology transfer, and capacity-building in the developing
world. This a moral obligation that cannot be avoided.
Our world’s transition to a green economy must not
be at the expense of
developing countries’ economic vitality. It simply cannot be -- or it would be
another travesty of justice.
Mr. President, the Filipino people aspire for a
stable, comfortable and
secure life founded on freedom, justice and equality.
We have made significant strides to this end, after more than a century
of nation-building. Today, the Philippines is a middle-income economy and a
thriving democracy. But difficult challenges remain -- this we do not deny.
Millions of Filipinos work abroad under the most
difficult and inhumane
of circumstances. We call for the abolition of all structures that allow the
exploitation and oppression of migrant workers.
kafala system is one such behemoth that chains the weak, the
desperate, and the voiceless to an existence of unimaginable suffering.
Nothing can justify the continued existence of this unjust system.
While reforms have been made, the kafala system must be dismantled --
sooner rather than later -- in the name of justice and basic decency.
The Philippines seeks stronger partnerships to protect the rights of
Filipinos and realize the full potential of our nation. But let me be clear --
what we mean is partnership that respects our peoples’ agency.
Let me say this again: My Government has a mandate
and an obligation
to my people. We will deal with all criminals -- including terrorists -- with
the full force of our laws.
The Filipino people want to live in peace and security in their homes and
communities -- free from harm and danger from the lawless.
But achieving this goal has not been without challenges.
I say this in no uncertain terms: The law applies to all.
I have instructed the Department of Justice and the Philippine National
Police to review the conduct of our campaign against illegal drugs. Those found
to have acted beyond bounds during operations shall be made accountable before
We have recently finalized with the United Nations
our Joint Program on
Human Rights. This is a model for constructive engagement between a sovereign
Member State and the United Nations.
Meaningful change, to be enduring, must come from
imposition of one’s will over another -- no matter how noble the intent -- has
never worked in the past. And it never will in the future.
How many more countries shall be made to unravel
and descend into
chaos before the powerful heed this simple lesson?
In dealing with complex problems in nation-building, let us consider
pragmatic approaches that square ideals with reality. Sure, they may lead us to
imperfect solutions -- but solutions, nonetheless, that actually work.
We all pay the price for the misadventures of the
few that spiral into
The Philippines, in line with its longstanding
humanitarian tradition, has
opened its doors to Afghan nationals, especially women and children, fleeing
As one global community, we must do our utmost to
help the Afghan
people and all those who continue to suffer.
Rohingyas, I have instructed our
Department of Justice to work
closely with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees to prepare a cooperation
program for a specific number of Rohingyas, consistent with our capacities.
The Philippines has limited resources during these
But what we can do for humanity and to uplift human dignity, we will.
Mr. President, in a period of profound geopolitical change, it is vital that
all countries -- big and small -- commit to the rule of law -- fully and firmly.
For a world without law is a world of disaster,
where the weak is at the
mercy of the strong. There can therefore be no other acceptable basis for global
order but the law.
We must resolve disputes peacefully, as we manifested in the
Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.
The Philippines is one with ASEAN and other stakeholders in ensuring
that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, security and prosperity.
1982 UNCLOS and the
2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea
provide a clear path towards a just, fair, and win-win solution for all.
The Award must be seen for what it is -- a benefit across the board to all
who subscribe to the majesty of the law.
No amount of willful disregard by any country, however big and
powerful, can diminish the Arbitral Award’s importance.
Mr. President, we face multiple crises that demand effective global
governance. Yet, our institutions, including the United Nations, have proven to
The UN is a product of an era long past. It no
longer reflects the political
and economic realities of today.
Democracy and transparency are concepts that
reverberate in the halls of the UN. But ironically, the Security Council -- the
pinnacle of the UN structure -- violates every tenet of these values. It is
neither democratic nor transparent in its representation and processes. Many
member states have spoken firmly and we agree: This simply is not right.
If the UN is to lead the world out of the many
crises we face, things need
to change. The UN must empower itself, by reforming itself. Therein lies the
hope for humanity.
Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by
Original Text Source: pcoo.gov.ph
Page Created: 9/22/21
Page Created: 9/22/21
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