Pres. Duterte to address the UN for the first time

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For the first time in his term, President Rodrigo Duterte will speak before the United Nations (UN) since he was voted President in 2016. 

However, he will deliver the country’s statement for the General Debate of the UN General Assembly virtually, according to Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje, due to travel and movement restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Duterte will be among the first set of speakers on September 22 (early Wednesday, September 23, Philippine time). 

The event is the General Debate of the UN General Assembly, now on its 75th session which kicked off last week. The country’s foreign secretaries were the ones who represented Duterte in the past, from 2016 to 2019. 

For his part, Duterte will talk about the US-China tensions in the South China Sea, where the Philippines is one of the claimants. Borje said that the President “will articulate principled Philippine positions on peace and security, which includes terrorism and geopolitical developments in Asia and the Pacific.”

Borje said other aspects of the President’s speech will touch on the global response to the pandemic, sustainable development and climate change, rule of law, justice and human rights, the situation of migrant workers and refugees as well as peacekeeping and UN reforms.

The other world leaders who will join in the General Debate are expected to focus on global solidarity efforts on how to address the pandemic. 

“The President’s participation has always been considered since the beginning of his term. But of course, this year takes on special significance,” Borje said about the President’s decision 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,” he added.

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