• Melo Acuna

President Duterte calls for global health agenda

President Duterte highlights need for global health agenda; says WHO should quickly coordinate, quicker to respond

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte took part in the High-Level General Debate, a highlight in the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Participating for the first time since he assumed presidency, President Duterte shared the limelight with Chinese President Xi Jinping, American President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, among others.

“We call for a global health agenda with enough resources and policy space for the World Health Organization. We need a WHO that is quick to coordinate and quicker to respond, President Duterte said in his recorded message.

He also paid tribute to medical practitioners and other frontline workers worldwide who are holding the line against the pandemic. He also called for enhanced multilateralism to address problems in peace and security including geopolitical tensions and terrorism, sustainable development, climate change and justice and human rights as well as the situation of migrant workers and refugees.

He called on all stakeholders in the South China Sa, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East and Africa to exercise restraint and pursue dialogue and the peaceful resolution of disputes according to the UN Charter and the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.

Regarding the contentious issue on the South China Sea, President Duterte said the Philippines is firmly committed to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award.

“The Award is not part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon. We firmly reject attempts to undermine it. We welcome the increasing number of states that have come in support of the award and what it stands for – the triumph of reason over rashness, of law over disorder, of amity over ambition. This – as it should is the majesty of the law,” he further said.

He also vowed to strengthen efforts to address the root causes of terrorism, including by promoting mutual understanding and tolerance amongst peoples of different faiths and cultures, in order to achieve durable and sustainable peace.

President Duterte called on the international community to focus on climate change because developing countries like the Philippines take the blunt and poor countries cannot afford to suffer more. He also highlighted the importance of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

He said with the mounting refugee crisis worldwide, it would be best for governments to end armed conflicts that force people to flee to safer enclaves. He added the Philippines remains open to everyone fleeing for safety, including the Rohingyas.

President Duterte also said the Anti-Terror Law which was recently enacted to law is an important measure to rid the country of terrorists, in support of the United Nations to stop terrorism.

He, however, added there are ill-intentioned parties shielding themselves by using the Human Rights issue. The chief executive said the Philippines stands to work with the United Nations in furtherance of the ideals formulated 75 years ago.

In closing, President Duterte said the United Nations remains humanity’s essential Organization which would require “the same collective courage that finally made the United Nations a reality 75 years ago.” (Melo M. Acuña)


President Rodrigo Roa Duterte speaking before the United Nations General Assembly. (Screen grab from United Nations Television)

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