Date: September 24, 2008 12:07:51 AM EDT
Subject: [kgma] PGMA's National Statement at the 63rd UN Gen. Assembly Ge. Debate
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's National Statement at the 63rd UN
General Assembly General Debate
General Assembly Hall, UN Headquarters
New York City, USA
September 23, 2008
Senior Don Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann. His Excellency the Secretary
General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, friends.
The developing world is at a tipping point. In the Philippines, we
feel the pain of high prices of food, fuel and rice.
Our people pursue the universal dream of a better life for themselves
and their children: better education, better healthcare, higher wages,
a dignified retirement. We are proving the value of a new paradigm for
self-reliance through the use of:
First, a targeted strategy with a set of precise prescriptions to ease
our price challenges;
Second, food self-sufficiency and more energy independence; and Third,
long term reforms.
This is a positive example we wish to share with the rest of the world.
Our gains in the last seven years were hard-earned. We made tough and
sometimes painful decisions to reset our economy -- tax increases,
banking reforms, crackdown on smugglers and tough fiscal discipline,
to name a few. Thankfully, these reforms have given us some running
room to weather the first wave of global price shocks that
reverberated across the world earlier this year.
It hasn't been easy, but Filipinos are tough and resilient. We have
pulled together. We have been able to draw on additional revenues to
provide targeted investments in food and fuel to keep our poor afloat
until a better day.
But we are also realistic that we cannot do it alone. We need a strong
UN as never before. We need rigorous international cooperation as
Economic uncertainty has moved like a terrible tsunami around the
globe, wiping away gains, erasing progress – not just here in
Manhattan Island, but also in the many islands of the Philippines.
Just when we thought the worst had passed, the light at the end of the
tunnel became an oncoming train hurtling forward with new shocks to
the global financial system. The setbacks from these global shocks of
the past year, and the past weeks, are real and profound. It will take
time and perseverance to put the pieces back together.
To address these global challenges, we must go on building bridges
among allies around the world. To bring rice to where it is needed to
feed the people, investments to create jobs and keep the peace and
stability in the world.
It is, therefore, timely that our Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has
organized this year's agenda around the impact of the global economy
on the poor. He deserves our highest praise for his quick and decisive
action on the global food crisis. His Comprehensive Framework for
Action involving the UN, donor countries, civil society and the
private sector seeks to achieve food security through the right
combination of policies, technologies and investments. This is a model
of the United Nations in action.
Since the volatile global economies became apparent in its situation
many months ago, in the Philippines we have increased and stabilized
the supply of rice, and delivered targeted subsidies to the poor. We
have reached out to our neighbors like Vietnam and others in ASEAN and
elsewhere to ensure a stable supply and affordable prices. We have
clamped down on price gouging and invested more billions in planting
and agricultural modernization.
We have increased our energy independence by 17% through greater use
of geothermal, biofuel and other renewables. We expect to attain 60%
energy independence in two years.
Biofuels have been cited for being a positive factor for clean energy.
At the same time, they have also been cited as a negative factor that
contributes to high food prices. We are pursuing a policy of using
non-food biofuel sources planted on land unusable for food production
purposes. We see this approach as a way for countries to seek a
sustainable balance between food and energy needs.
For food self-sufficiency, our food baskets are North Luzon in our
largest island and the southern island of Mindanao.
Mindanao has fields of the highest productivity, yet also the majority
of our poorest provinces. It is a sad irony that our food basket has
some of the highest hunger in our nation.
The prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict.
Our archipelago of 7,000 islands has had its share of religious
strife, ethnic tension and violence.
For years we have worked to achieve peace in Mindanao. Much progress
was made until violent elements within the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front decided to take the law into their own hands. We will restart
the dialogue when the area is secure, our people are safe and
responsible elements in the MILF regain control.
There is no alternative to peace. I stand before you today to declare
loud and clear that we are committed to the process of peace in Mindanao.
We gratefully acknowledge here today the central role of so many
friends and allies, like the UN; Brunei, Indonesia, Libya, Malaysia,
Saudi Arabia, and others in the Organization of the Islamic
Conference; Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the US and other bilateral
ODA partners; the EU and Sweden. All have played a big role in
advancing peace and development in Mindanao.
We will refocus the peace talks from one that is centered on dialogues
with rebels to one of authentic dialogues with the communities. The
context of our engagement with all armed groups shall subscribe to the
UN-recognized principle of demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.
We maintain high hopes in interfaith dialogue as a means to build
bridges rather than barriers between communities of different cultures
In continuation of this effort, the Philippines will host the
first-ever Special Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue for
Cooperation and Development in May next year. We will also cooperate
with the Alliance of Civilizations.
We are also pleased that our Secretary General will join us in Manila
during the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development. Our
overseas Filipino workers are true global pioneers. There isn't a ship
abroad that doesn't have a Filipino crew or a nation without highly
skilled Filipino workers. The movement of people from one country to
another will surely increase as globalization continues to erase borders.
This should be recognized as having implications on the growth and
development of both sending and receiving countries.
Mr. President, in many troubled places of our world, the U.N. is the
last great hope for peace and security. For this reason, the
Philippines contributes one of the largest police contingents to U.N.
Mr. President, your leadership is more vital than ever. The
Philippines will fully support you as you lead our General Assembly
for the coming year.
In conclusion, Mr. President and friends, there are hundreds of
millions of good people across this globe who are struggling as never
before. We must hear their cry for help. It is within the collective
power of the leaders at this UN Assembly to fulfill the universal
dream of better education, better health, food on the table, and a
Thank you. (applause)
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