Duterte to address UN General Assembly for the first time

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 12:54 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2020 03:39 PM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Matina Enclaves, Davao City on June 4, 2020. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo

Duterte to touch on war on drugs in speech

MANILA (UPDATE) -- For the first time since assuming office, President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations, Malacañang said Monday as the world's largest intergovernmental organization marks 75 years.

Duterte will join the high-level general debate of the international body which will happen on Sept. 22 to Sept. 26, Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje said. 

This year's UN General Assembly will be conducted online due to the limitations set by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This will be the President's first time to address the UN General Assembly, the main deliberative board of the UN where all the 193 member-states are represented," Borje said during a Palace press briefing.

Duterte, who assumed office in 2016, will address the international body for the first time following a series of tirades he has thrown over the years.

At the start of his presidency, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the world body after a UN human rights expert said his encouragement of security forces to kill drug suspects violated international law. The President later retracted the threat as a "joke."

Last year, Duterte lashed out at the UN anew, calling the body "inutile" over supposed failures to prevent wars and protect nations from pirates.

The Philippines is a founding member of the UN.

This year however shows the "intensity and the urgency needed to address global issues" which is why Duterte decided to join the UN General Assembly, Borje said, noting the significance of the UN's 75th year.

"The President recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform," Borje said.

“The participation of the President has always been considered since the beginning of his term. But of course, this year takes on special significance,” he added.

Duterte's address can be watched at 9 p.m. Tuesday in the Philippines.

DUTERTE TO TOUCH ON WAR ON DRUGS, HUMAN RIGHTS

The world will be watching the 75-year-old Philippine leader talk about issues of key importance to the country, according to Borje such as the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights, and justice.

Asked if Duterte will address criticisms on his war on drugs, Borje said: "Yes, that will be part of the President's speech. He will address issues on human rights and justice."

"The President will articulate principal Philippine positions on peace and security which includes terrorism and geopolitical developments in the Asia and the Pacific," he added.

In July last year, the UN Human Rights Council approved a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including killings linked to the anti-drug campaign.