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PRESS RELEASE

NYPM-007-07

16 MARCH 2007

RP KEEPS KEY UN SEAT AS DAVIDE ASSUMES ECOSOC VICE PRESIDENCY

NEW YORK—The Philippines retained an important post in the United Nations with the election and assumption on Thursday, 15 March, of the new Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Hilario G. Davide, Jr., as Vice President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In its report to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations said Ambassador Davide assumed the ECOSOC vice presidency after he was elected by acclamation by the 54-member council—one of the principal organs of the world body that deals with international economic and social issues.

Ambassador Davide took over the ECOSOC vice president’s seat vacated by Ambassador Lauro L. Baja Jr. whom he replaced on 24 February as Manila's point man in the United Nations.

“I cannot thank you enough for electing me Vice President of ECOSOC,” Ambassador Davide said in his brief remarks following his election to the body. “Your act is a clear demonstration of your faith in my country, the Philippines, as your partner in pursuing and achieving the solemn mandates entrusted to the ECOSOC and of your trust and confidence in me, your most junior colleague in the Council.”

“For this demonstration of faith, trust and confidence, I pledge my commitment to perform my duties and responsibilities with the best I can give in terms of talent, time and energy,” the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court told the council—the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system.

ECOSOC President Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania said that with his election, Ambassador Davide will also assume Ambassador Baja’s responsibilities as Chair of the Coordination Segment of the ECOSOC which coordinates the activities of the various functional commissions under its jurisdiction. The Coordination Segment is also in charge of leading the negotiations with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the UN Conference on Trade and Development and the World Trade Organization for important meetings in March and April.

It could be recalled that the Philippines topped the ECOSOC elections held in October last year, the first time it achieved such distinction in an election to a major organ of the United Nations. The last time the Philippines sat as a member of the ECOSOC was in 1992-1997. On 17 January, Ambassador Baja was elected Vice President in his capacity as Permanent Representative of the Philippines.

The Philippine Mission, at the same time, said that reports that the Philippines lost its seat to Japan in the ECOSOC as a result of Manila’s decision to recall Ambassador Baja are not true.

The Philippine Mission said Ambassador Baja offered the position to Japan shortly after he received his orders reassigning him back to Manila as special envoy for interfaith matters. However, when he was informed that Ambassador Baja acted without instructions from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Kenzo Oshima, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, immediately expressed his full support for Ambassador Davide.

Ambassador Oshima told the Philippine Mission that he initially accepted Ambassador Baja’s offer for him to take over the unexpired term of the Philippine vice presidency thinking that in doing so he was doing the Philippines a favor.

The supposed loss by the Philippines of the key UN seat was announced in a fabricated press release issued to various news outlets in Manila and New York on 24 February, two days after Ambassador Baja stepped down as permanent representative. The same press release said Filipinos in the UN as well as the Filipino-American community in the East Coast were protesting the untimely recall of Ambassador Baja as it meant the loss of the ECOSOC vice presidency.

The Philippine Mission said it did not issue the press release and that the two Filipino staff members at the UN, including Ms. Jessie Rose Mabutas, the highest-ranking Filipino in the UN system, who were quoted in the press release denied issuing the statements attributed to them.


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