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PIA Press Release
2007/09/29

PGMA tells UN members: "We must build bridges of peace and prosperity"

NEW YORK CITY (via PLDT) (29 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo underscored on Friday the need for all countries in the world"to focus on strengthening the three pillars of the United Nations - development, security and human rights."

Speaking at the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly here, the Chief Executive said the "number of global-size issues we will face in the 21st century requires global-size cooperation. We must build bridges of peace and prosperity. The place to start is building a stronger United Nations."

The President, who appeared very, very confident in her regal aquamarine dress as she delivered her speech before the UN delegates, congratulated newly-elected UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, whom she described as "such a good friend" of the Philippines particularly when he was still Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.

"We embrace his (Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon) vow to focus on strengthening the three pillars of the United Nations - development, security and human rights," she said.

As a pillar of development, the President pointed out that the UN plays a major role for the Philippines, particularly in its poverty alleviation program.

The President said poverty alleviation is the most important part of her administration's agenda and vision to lift the Philippines into a modernized nation in two decades.

She expressed belief in the power of the global trading system to alleviate poverty and modernize nations through market forces. However, the President said that does not mean that countries like the Philippines "are ready to compete head-to-head today in every sector, but it does mean that we cannot afford to be afraid of globalization."

By being increasingly connected to the world, President Arroyo said, the Philippine economy has reached a new level of maturity and stability as she cited some of the strongest macroeconomic fundamentals in 20 years.

The President recalled that six years ago, no one thought "we could bring our budget into balance, which we did last month, pre-pay our debts and raise employment, but we have."

"We must both grow our economy and sustain our natural environment at the same time. We are developing and promoting our Green Philippines agenda," she said, adding that it emphasizes a sustainable economic model that brings economic opportunity and a concern for the environment.

The President said that at the Secretary General's High-Level Meeting on Climate Change earlier this week, the UN member nations focused on what the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Kyoto Protocol meetings in Bali, Indonesia in December should do.

She noted that the Clean Development Mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol has allowed developing countries like the Philippines to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through private sector initiatives.

However, the President stressed the need "to expand the carbon market and to expand international cooperation and financial support to promote strategies" to adapt to climate change.

"We believe that we have a unique opportunity to get it right from day one: to introduce new industries that are clean and profitable. This includes a biofuels industry that helps our energy independence, creates jobs and keeps our nation clean for future generations," she said.

In her speech, the President also noted that as a pillar of security and human rights, the United Nations remains the central pillar underpinning conflict resolution.

She said that the Philippines is among the largest, if not the largest, contributors of police officers to the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions.

"The Philippines has peacekeepers, both police and military, in Afghanistan, Cote D'lvoire, Georgia, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Sudan and Timor Leste," the President said.

In connection with this, the President vowed to continue the country's participation to safeguard communities so that they may overcome conflict and regain the peace needed to pursue development.

According to the President, she has personally advanced the process of peace in Muslim and Christian Mindanao to a new level of engagement, which, she said, is "focused on interfaith dialogue, economic development and mutual security."

The President emphasized that the Philippine government has done this with the largest possible international involvement, including the UN.

On the peace in Mindanao, President Arroyo said that this is very much an issue of human rights, just as poverty alleviation, the country's number one issue.

Emphasizing that the Philippines is the most democratic country in the region, the President said "we have no tolerance for human rights violations at home or abroad."

She likewise vowed her support to the effort to revitalize and refocus the work of the UN in human rights. "It is for this reason that the Philippines sought and won a seat in the Human Rights Council," she stressed.

The President also told the delegates attending the 62nd session of the 190-member UN body that the attention of the international community has been drawn, with great reason and justification, to the current situation in Myanmar.

"This is the time for Myanmar to return to the path of democracy and to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi - now - and to involve all the parties including the National League for Democracy, in the democratization and the constitutional process," she said.

In a statement she released Thursday, the President called on Myanmar to act on its own best interests to avoid its further isolation and to redeem its democracy without any further delay.

"We have patiently but persistently advised Myanmar within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that it must make greater and faster progress toward that goal," she noted.

In addition, the President said, "we ask the Government of Myanmar to invite the UN special envoy for Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, to visit the country as soon as possible." (OPS) [top]

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