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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Sep 28, 2022

PBBM in UN debut: No challenge is larger than a world in harmony

The past few years have shown humankind once again that we are interconnected, the geographical and political boundaries set by every nation does not mean we only live within those boundaries.

It was evident during the Covid-19 pandemic which spared no nation; and it was also through the solidarity of the community of nations that we were able to control the virus.

Climate change, food security, the conflict in Ukraine, the fast-paced technological developments that is compounding the digital divide, and the lingering effects of the pandemic are just some of the issues that are affecting our world today.

These are concerns that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. tackled during his participation in the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and working visit to New York from Sept. 18-24.

It was a busy week for the President as he met with the Filipino community in the United States; had bilateral talks with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida; met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres; delivered keynote address at the New York Stock Exchange and at the Philippine Economic Briefing; had dialogues with American private companies, members of the Asia Society, as well as with key executives from the United States’ digital infrastructure sector, among others.

In his meetings with business leaders, the President’s main agenda is to communicate the developments in the country and the administration’s priorities and plans for the next six years to encourage them to invest in the Philippines now.

But the highlight of the President’s visit to New York is his participation in the 77th session of the UNGA. In the national statement during the High-Level General Debate, President Marcos underscored the role that the Philippines can play in addressing global concerns.

For instance, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Filipino health workers in different parts of the world were at the frontlines caring for the infected and helping curb the spread of the virus.

The President also shared the Philippines’ peace building efforts within the country, particularly the success in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, as well as within the region, stressing that the country’s experience in building peace and forging cooperation can contribute to the work of the Security Council. In this regard, he appealed for the support of all UN Member States for the Philippines’ candidature to the Security Council for the term of 2027-2028.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. (left) holds a bilateral meeting with President Joseph R. Biden of the United States of America (USA) during his Working Visit to New York on Sept. 22, 2022.

Another important highlight of the President’s speech is his call for climate justice — for industrialized countries to immediately fulfill their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, stressing that it is clear injustice for a country such as the Philippines to be the fourth most vulnerable nation to the effects of climate change even if it absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits.

Kishida for the first time on the sidelines of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Marcos emphasized that the Philippines accepts its share of responsibility in the global climate action, but it is a must that industrialized nations deliver their commitments to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, and to provide climate financing and technology transfer for adaptation for the most vulnerable and developing countries.

The President also touched on the issues of peaceful resolution of international disputes, the need to protect the vulnerable sectors of our society such as the marginalized, migrants and refugees, and ending all forms of prejudice.

In essence, President Marcos underscored that the challenges of today can be resolved through three tools already at our disposal — solidarity, sustainability, and science. But there should be a stronger commitment to fulfill our collective duty as part of the United Nations, because whatever action or non-action we commit today will affect and influence not only us, but also the generations next to us.

Perhaps it is best to recall what the 17th-century English author John Donne had said, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

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