Duterte to address UN General Assembly  for first time
President Duterte, who once called the UN “inutile” for its supposed failure to prevent wars, will participate at the high-level general debate during the 75th session of the UNGA that will take place today until Sept. 26.
KJ Rosales, file
Duterte to address UN General Assembly for first time
(The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the first time today, even as some international groups renew their condemnation of alleged abuses tied to his controversial war on illegal drugs.

Duterte, who once called the UN “inutile” for its supposed failure to prevent wars, will participate at the high-level general debate during the 75th session of the UNGA that will take place today until Sept. 26.

Presidential assistant for foreign affairs and protocol chief Robert Borje said Duterte would be in the first set of speakers and would deliver his address on the first day of the general debate. He will be the 12th of 14 speakers who will deliver speeches during the morning session, which will start at 9 a.m. New York time (9 p.m. Philippine time).

“President Duterte will articulate Philippine positions on a wide range of issues of key importance to the country, such as the global response to the coronavirus pandemic; peace and security, including terrorism and geopolitical developments in the Asia Pacific; sustainable development and climate change; the rule of law; justice and human rights – including the situation of migrant workers and refugees; peacekeeping and UN reforms,” Borje said.

He said the participation of Duterte in the UNGA has always been considered since the beginning of his term.

“But of course this year takes on a special significance because it’s the 75th anniversary. But more than the milestone landmark commemoration, it’s the intensity and the urgency needed to address global issues,” he said.

“The President recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform where one country can articulate the country’s principled position on many items and many issues. And this is why he decided to join the UN General Assembly high level debate this month,” he added.

Asked whether Duterte would talk about concerns surrounding the relationship between the US and China, Borje replied: “Indeed the President will be able to address that. As I said earlier, the President will articulate principled Philippine positions on peace and security issues, terrorism and geopolitical developments in Asia and the Pacific.”

Duterte’s participation in the UNGA comes as his brutal campaign against drugs – one of the campaign promises that catapulted him to the presidency in 2016 – is facing fresh criticism from human rights advocates here and abroad. More than 6,000 drug suspects have been killed since the campaign was launched four years ago, according to police data.

International watchdog Human Rights Watch recently alleged that the atrocities in the drug crackdown have worsened, with the police killing 50 percent more people between April and July this year than they did in the previous four-month period.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on the Philippines to “revoke the policies that continue to result in killings and other human rights violations, to bring to justice the perpetrators and to halt the use of rhetoric inciting violence against people who use or sell drugs.”

The European Parliament has also adopted a resolution lambasting the alleged extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations in the Philippines. All campaigns against narcotics should be compliant with due process of the law, the legislative body added.

Malacañang has insisted that the government does not tolerate human rights violations, extrajudicial killings and other illegal acts. It has also maintained that the Philippine judicial process is working and that legal remedies are available to victims of crimes and abusive practices.

The theme of this year’s UNGA session is “The Future We Want, The United Nations We Need.” The high-level general debate will be presided over by 75th UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir of Turkey. – Alexis Romero, Edith Regalado

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