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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
DR. ALBERTO G. ROMULO
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies
20 September 2006, United Nations, New York
Allow me to congratulate you for your excellent stewardship of our Community for the past year and assure you of our continued cooperation and support as a member of the Community and Convenor for Asia.
Our Community has come a long way since its inaugural meeting in Warsaw in 2000. Through our work, consensus among countries committed to the democratic path is being forged.
There is, however, still much to be done.
The Philippines believes that for democracy to take root and flourish, its values must be felt and inculcated into the people’s daily lives. This involves building the necessary political institutions as well as creating opportunities for sustainable socio-economic development. Socio-economic development strengthens democracies and makes them capable of generating processes that lead to progress and well-being.
We wish to stress the need for States to assist each other in social and economic development, particularly in the eradication of poverty and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Philippines has undertaken significant measures to address poverty eradication. It recognizes the Millennium Development Goals as the means to productive life, economic growth and further development and has mainstreamed the MDGs into its national development plans.
The attainment of the MDGs are reflected in President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s 10-Point Program of Action that aims to improve the economy, uplift the lives of Filipinos, strengthen democracy and forge peace and national solidarity.
The Philippines proposed during the World Summit last year a debt-for-equity swap as a solution to hurdle difficulties in funding poverty-oriented measures. The proposal called for the conversion of 50% of the amount for debt servicing as equities in developing countries’ MDG related projects. The Philippines continues to advocate this idea in all relevant fora and hope that our Community seriously considers this as a strategy to fight poverty.
Our current chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also provides us the opportunity to help strengthen democratic institutions and processes within our neighbourhood.
The Philippine theme for its chairmanship is “One Caring and Sharing Community.” The theme reflects the initiatives that will be undertaken by the Philippines during the 12th ASEAN Leaders Summit in December 2006 in community building and common people’s participation.
The end goal of the chairmanship is to help sustain the momentum towards a caring ASEAN where the standard of living of disadvantaged groups are raised, the women and youth are empowered and special attention is given to recommendations on the promotion of health, food security and safety, environment protection, and the promotion of common values and norms.
The Philippines also recognizes the need for broad levels of social participation and building broad national consensus. As such, the Philippines believes in actively engaging civil society since an informed civil society plays a key role in the legitimization, consolidation and protection of democracy. To date, the Philippines has taken steps to bring civil society into the fold.
The Philippine initiative on interfaith dialogue and cooperation for peace launched last year created a Tripartite Forum which included governments, concerned United Nations offices/agencies and civil society organizations as partners to explore practical measures, utilizing interfaith dialogue and cooperation in order to advance understanding and foster mutual respect, tolerance and friendship between diverse peoples, their cultures and religions.
Recognizing the growing role of regional networks of non-governmental organizations in moving forward integration initiatives, as ASEAN chairman, the Philippines is supporting the holding of an ASEAN People’s Assembly to coincide with the ASEAN Leader’s Summit in December 2006.
Democracy must continue to be internationally supported. It is thus incumbent on all of us to continue the work, both individually and as a group, through our Community.
The Philippines continues its total commitment to building a just and humane society based upon freedom and democracy. My country renews its solidarity, in words and action, with the efforts of freedom-loving peoples around the world.
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