RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE, President of the Philippines, warning that the world’s future will likely be one of inequality with no hope of ever succeeding in closing the gap between rich and poor, said the international community must not allow such an unjust order to happen. “We have to reverse course,” he said, stressing that only inclusive multilateralism, based on fairness and respect, can deliver the global public goods needed. The future for the downtrodden is bleak, as a man-made drought of vaccines ravages poor countries. “Rich countries hoard life-saving vaccines, while poor nations wait for trickles,” he said, stressing: “The pandemic will not end unless the virus is defeated everywhere, and vaccines are key to achieving this.” He highlighted that his Administration committed $1 million to the COVAX Facility, strongly urging privileged partners to fully support the Facility and strengthen other cooperation mechanisms, which is crucial to save more lives, break the cycle of variants and help ensure global economic recovery.
Likewise, climate change has exposed the varying vulnerabilities of countries around the globe and those who suffer the most are the least responsible for this existential crisis, he said. The world has reached a tipping point, where failure to act leads to cataclysmic consequences for the whole of humankind. For its part, the Philippines has submitted its first nationally determined contribution, with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 75 per cent by 2030, and has placed a moratorium on new coal plant construction. “But this contribution will be rendered useless if the biggest polluters — past and present — choose to do ‘business as usual’,” he said, appealing for urgent climate action, especially from those who can truly tip the balance. Developed countries have a moral obligation to fulfil their longstanding commitment to climate financing, technology transfer and capacity-building in the developing world.
Pointing out that millions of Filipinos work abroad under the most difficult and inhumane of circumstances, he called for abolishing all structures that allow the exploitation and oppression of migrant workers: “The kafala system is one such behemoth that chains the weak, the desperate and the voiceless to an existence of unimaginable suffering,” he said. His Administration will deal with all criminals, including terrorists, with the full force of law. The Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police will review the conduct of law enforcement in the campaign against illegal drugs and hold accountable those found to have acted outside the law. The recently finalized Joint Programme on Human Rights between his Administration and the United Nations is a model for constructive engagement between the Organization and a sovereign Member State. Enduring meaningful change must come from within; the imposition of one’s will over another — no matter how noble the intent — has never worked. “How many more countries shall be made to unravel and descend into chaos before the powerful heed this simple lesson?” he asked, calling for pragmatic approaches to nation-building. “We all pay the price for the misadventures of the few that spiral into humanitarian disasters.”
The Philippines, he went on, has opened its doors to Afghan nationals, especially women and children, fleeing conflict. His Administration will work closely with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to prepare a cooperation programme for Rohingya refugees. The Philippines is one with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in ensuring the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, security and prosperity. Concluding, he said the United Nations no longer reflects current political and economic realities of today. The Security Council is neither democratic nor transparent in its representation and processes. To lead the world out of many global crises, he said, “the UN must empower itself, by reforming itself. Therein lies the hope for humanity.”
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