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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
H.E. Mr. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Permanent Representative of theRepublic of the Philippines
to the United Nations

At the
General Debate of the Second Committee

"MOVING FORWARD THE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA OF THE UNITED NATIONS"

60th UN General Assembly

New York, 3 October 2005

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, the Philippines associates itself with the statement by the distinguished representative of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and the statement of Indonesia on behalf of ASEAN.

On behalf of the Philippine delegation, allow me to congratulate you and the members of your Bureau on your well-deserved election. The 60 th Session of the General Assembly presents a number of opportunities and challenges for the Second Committee after the historic gathering of world leaders for the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly. This is particularly true in advancing the Development Agenda of the United Nations. The Philippines looks forward to working closely with you and with other delegations as we tackle these common concerns.

Moving Forward the UN Development Agenda

Mr. Chairman,

Moving the UN's development agenda forward should be a priority concern of all Member States. Development, as we all know, is the foundation of peace, security and stability. Over the years, the nexus between economic development, peace and the protection of human rights has become clear as an offshoot of globalization and increasing interdependence. The inter-relatedness of freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom to live in dignity becomes an important principle in international cooperation. Without development, our efforts to forging international peace and harmony will be put to naught. Our collective interest therefore rests on tackling the twin problem of alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development that will allow us to achieve the internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Implementation: Need for Concrete Strategies and Modalities

The implementation of commitments made in various meetings and conferences over the last decade was the oft-repeated call by leaders during the High-Level Plenary Meeting and the ensuing general debate at the 60 th session of the General Assembly last week. This is rightly so, because it is only through implementation of those commitments that we would be able to see the silver lining of achieving the goal of halving poverty by 2015.

The 2005 World Summit Outcome that our leaders have adopted outlines some of the important development objectives and strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. What remains is how to achieve them.

For the Philippines, the process and the substance of pushing for the development agenda lies in its implementation, including the provision of concrete steps, modalities and strategies of carrying them out. During this 60 th session of the General Assembly, we should not shy away from creative and innovative ways to complement existing means of cooperation in order to achieve our avowed goals.

Mr. Chairman,

Under the prevailing global economic environment, the Philippines would like to highlight three major areas that have enormous impact on the achievement of our development agenda: the debt problem of many middle-income developing countries; the looming energy crisis; and international migration and development.

The Debt Problem

At the High–level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called for the adoption of "debt-for-equity-in MDG projects" to help solve the burgeoning debt problem of many middle-income countries. In his statement at the general debate of the 60 th Session of the General Assembly, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Dr. Alberto Romulo also echoed the same warning that the middle-income countries of today, will soon become the HIPCs of the future if the debt problem will not be resolved immediately. Indeed, the debt problem of middle-income countries is confounded by the soaring prices of oil and energy that pose continued threat to the achievement of the internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The key to achieving the MDGs in our respective countries lies in the availability of adequate resources to finance the development priorities we have outlined in our National Development Plans. But because of the high price of oil and the limited financing resource available locally, we need the help and assistance of donor countries as well as the international financial institutions to give us reprieve in servicing our debt by channeling those vital resources to financing our development programs.

The Philippines therefore proposes the adoption of debt-for-equity-in-MDG projects, on a voluntary basis, as a form of innovative and creative means of mobilizing resources to help alleviate poverty and achieve the MDGs.

Mr. Chairman,

Under the debt-for-equity-in MDG projects, we are not asking for the debt cancellation. We are not asking for debt moratorium or debt forgiveness. We offer this proposal to complement the agreement by the G-8 countries to write-off multilateral debt owed by HIPCs. This is a creative way of addressing the debt issue by allowing middle-income countries to channel their resources intended for debt-servicing to financing the MDG-based priorities.

In essence, what this scheme asks is for rich countries, multilateral institutions and large commercial banks to plough back into the economies of debtor-countries 50 percent of an agreed-on portion of the debt-service payments due them. These payments would be plough back in the form of equities or other kind of financial assets and channeled towards MDG programs. Projects under scheme could focus on such areas as: reforestation; mass housing; infrastructure projects; micro-financing; hospitals and health care; irrigation, post-harvest facilities and food production; schools, classrooms and information technology; clean water; eco-tourism; and wealth-creating projects such as reclamation and mining.

The Philippines submits debt-for-equity-in-MDG projects for the consideration of donor countries as well as international financial institutions in realizing debt relief for the middle-income countries. We look forward therefore, to the support of the bilateral donors, creditors and multilateral financial institutions to seriously consider this scheme.

Energy Cooperation

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines is likewise convinced that the international community under the aegis of the United Nations should look closely at the seemingly unbridled spiral of oil prices adversely affecting the ability of developing countries to meet their development commitments.

An international cooperation on energy matters is crucial at this stage. The rising cost of energy severely stunts the capacity and the capability of developing countries to meet their targets in the accomplishment of internationally agreed development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals. Oil prices are now inflicting grievous economic damage to the poorest states including the highly indebted middle-income countries. And with the fast-rising global demand, the high price of oil may seem here to stay.

We should enhance our energy cooperation, support efficient energy uses and explore and utilize alternative energy sources. Various schemes merit serious study with a view to forging mechanism or framework for energy cooperation. For example, collective development of alternative and indigenous energy sources, such as conversion of cane sugar into ethanol or diesel oil from coconuts should be carefully studied. So are wind farms and rural solar energy projects. Moreover, we should consider the possibility of an Oil Summit to mop out various strategies on how to effectively and efficiently address the looming energy crisis.

International Migration and Development

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines welcomes the 2005 World Summit Outcome, which recognizes the important linkages between international migration and development and the need to deal with this issue in a coordinated and coherent manner.

The Philippines believes that there is a need to further enhance cooperation at the international level in order to manage the increasing migration phenomenon. We see migration as a 'win-win' situation that brings benefits to countries of origin, destination and transit. The increasing movement of peoples across borders therefore calls for a comprehensive and effective international mechanism for cooperation that would address its multidimensional aspects, particularly its politico-security, social, cultural and economic development dimensions. The Philippines stands ready to cooperate with all countries in contributing towards the formulation of effective international mechanisms that would help ensure a smooth management of migration.

There is also a need to look at remittances as an economic resource that can propel and sustain economic growth and development in countries of origin. Efforts should therefore be geared at harnessing remittances for sustainable development as well as undertaking measures that will help reduce the transaction cost of transferring remittances to developing countries.

In this regard, the Philippines looks forward to the holding of the high-level dialogue of the General Assembly on international migration and development in 2006, which will provide an opportunity to discuss the multifaceted aspects of international migration. We also look forward to receiving the Secretary-General's report as well as the report of the Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) to serve as additional inputs to the discourse on international migration.

Conclusion

The 60th UNGA presents an opportunity to hasten the course of development cooperation in the 21 st century. Aside from the existing mechanisms, we should look into creative and innovative means of solving our age-old problem of poverty alleviation. We look forward to the adoption of innovative approaches to complement existing means of cooperation to further enhance the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Lastly, the Philippines welcomes Qatar's proposal to host the first follow-up meeting on the International Conference on Financing for Development.

Thank you Mr. Chairman









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