Duterte to address UN for the first time since taking office

MANILA, Sept 21 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations (UN) for the first time since he took office in 2016.

Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje said on Monday the President will deliver this week the Philippines’ statement for the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, which kicked off its 75th session last week. Duterte was represented by his foreign secretaries in the event from 2016 to 2019.

This year’s event will go virtual due to movement restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Other world leaders are also expected to participate in the General Debate which will focus on global solidarity to address the pandemic.

Duterte will also address the US-China tensions in the South China Sea, a portion of which is being claimed by the Philippines.

“The President will articulate principled Philippine positions on peace and security, which includes terrorism and geopolitical developments in Asia and the Pacific,” Borje said in a Palace news conference.

Borje said the President will also talk about the global response to the pandemic, sustainable development and climate change, rule of law, justice and human rights, including the situation of migrant workers and refugees as well as peacekeeping and UN reforms.

Duterte is part of the first set of speakers for September 22 (New York time/early Wednesday, Sept. 23, Philippine time), he added.

“The participation of the President has always been considered since the beginning of his term. But of course, this year takes on special significance,” Borje said when asked why the President decided to participate this year.

“It’s the intensity and the urgency needed to address global issues. The President recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform.”

Early in his term, Duterte threatened to “separate” from the 193-member UN amid criticism from human rights experts over the death toll attributed to his administration’s campaign against illegal drugs. The Philippines is a founding member of the UN, which was established in 1945.

“When have you done a good deed to my country? We are contributing money,” Duterte said in August 2016.

Duterte also raised the possibility of forming another international organization along with China and African and Middle Eastern countries.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the Philippine government to “revoke the policies” that allegedly resulted in human rights violations under the drug war.

The Palace however maintained that the Philippines has institutions mandated to go after human rights violators. (MNS)

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