Marcos first SEA leader to speak at UN meet

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos first SEA leader to speak at UN meet
President Marcos is given departure honors at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 yesterday for his trip to the United States.
Krizjohn Rosales

NEW YORK – President Marcos will be the first Southeast Asian head of state to deliver a statement at the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday afternoon (around 3 a.m. Wednesday in Manila).

Considered the biggest diplomatic venue in the world, the General Assembly is the main policy-making organ of the UN as it enables member states to tackle key global issues covered by the multilateral body’s charter.

The highlight of the UNGA is the high-level debate, where world leaders make policy statements on world affairs and international relations.

A list of speakers posted on the UN website showed that Marcos will be the 18th head of state to deliver a national statement during the debate. He will be the second speaker during the fifth plenary meeting, the afternoon session of the first day of the event.

The fifth plenary meeting will start with the statement of Honduras President Iris Xiomara Castro Sarmiento.

In a recent press briefing, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Kira Danganan-Azucena said Marcos is expected to talk about solutions to global challenges and how the Philippines and the UN can contribute to them.

The President’s statement will also tackle his administration’s priorities, including climate change, rule of law and food security.

Marcos will be the first Philippine president to deliver the national statement in person since 2010, based on information available on the UN website.

The late president Benigno Aquino III was physically present at the UN Headquarters when he addressed the 65th UNGA in 2010.

Key officials, most of them foreign affairs secretaries, represented the Philippines in the assembly from 2011 to 2019.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte delivered the Philippines’ statement in 2020 and 2021 but those were pre-recorded as part of precautionary measures against COVID-19.

This year’s meeting will be the first to be held completely in person since the pandemic struck in 2020.

More than 150 heads of state and government are expected to participate in this year’s general debate, whose theme is “A Watershed Moment: Transformative Solutions to Interlocking Challenges.”

Other engagements

Aside from the UNGA, Marcos will be meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and leaders of countries that are long standing and key partners of the Philippines.

In his departure statement yesterday, Marcos said he would discuss with them opportunities for more robust cooperation in food security, agriculture, renewable energy and climate change.

“I will, one, share the Philippines’ vision in people-centered development, highlighting our administration’s thrust for economic recovery, food security, and agricultural productivity,” Marcos said in Manila before departing for New York, accompanied by First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos.

This is Marcos’ first visit to the US and third overseas trip as Chief Executive.

Officials have yet to identify the heads of state who will meet with Marcos on the sidelines of the UNGA.

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said “consultations” were being made with the White House for a possible meeting between Marcos and US President Joe Biden.

Marcos will also attend various business activities to seal more partnerships and promote the Philippines’ economic and sustainable development.

He is expected to highlight his administration’s policies during the Philippine Economic Briefing, which will be attended by institutional investors, senior corporate executives and entrepreneurs.

The President is also scheduled to meet with the US Chamber of Commerce, US-ASEAN Business Council and US-Philippine Society, events that the DFA said were intended to raise the profile of the Philippines in the US and enhance ties between the two countries.

Also in his itinerary are roundtable meetings with representatives of various business sectors here and a meeting with the Filipino community at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Duterte in charge

During the pre-departure ceremony for Marcos at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Pasay City, Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile were present.

Duterte has been designated as the country’s officer-in-charge while the President is in the US from Sept. 18 to 24.

Former executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, who was initially part of the send-off ceremony, was not seen in the area.

The day before, Rodriguez announced he had stepped down as executive secretary and would be taking on the role as presidential chief of staff – a new position of Cabinet rank.

Marcos emphasized the importance of his trip to the US in his departure speech. “We affirm the country’s commitment to the ideals of the UN, citing its contributions to peaceful settlement of disputes and of international law and highlighting the importance of the UN in fostering international dialogue and cooperation,” he said.

Among those joining him in New York are Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Public Works Secretary Manuel Bonoan, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople, National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan and Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles.

Earlier, Angeles said the Marcos family’s $353-million contempt order in the US over a human rights case with martial law victims was not part of the agenda in the President’s US trip.

Romualdez joins entourage

Speaker Martin Romualdez also left with Marcos, joining the President’s entourage on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR 001 to the US.

“I expect the US visit to reap a lot of benefits for our country and the more than four million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans living or working in America,” said Leyte’s first district congressman who leads the 316-member House of Representatives.

Romualdez is a maternal first cousin of the President, whose mother is former first lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

He has high hopes for the success of the visit, coming as it does after Marcos’ recent successful trip to Indonesia and Singapore, which resulted in more than $14 billion in supply and investment pledges from Indonesian and Singaporean businessmen.

The Speaker said the US is also a significant source of investments being a major trading and economic cooperation partner and ally of the country.

The US is also the biggest source of remittances from overseas Filipino workers and Filipino-Americans, he said. – HelenFlores, Delon Porcalla

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