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

Philippine Statement
by

Mr. EDUARDO R. MEÑEZ
Minister


at the
General Debate of the Second Committee
of the UN General Assembly
9 October 2007

Madam Chair,

Allow me to join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election to the position of Chairperson of this Committee, and to assure you and the newly elected members of your Bureau, of the Philippines’ full support and participation in the work of the Second Committee.

I also wish to thank Deputy Secretary General Dr. Asha Rose Migiro and Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr. Sha Zukang for their statements yesterday morning and their active coordination and collaboration with the Second Committee.

My delegation associates itself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China by the distinguished Permanent Representative of Pakistan, and similarly, with the statement made on behalf of the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations by the distinguished representative from Indonesia.

Madam Chair,

We are all aware that the work of the Second Committee continues to grow both in scope, depth and in urgency. This year we saw much progress in the discussions in the ECOSOC substantive session, and we now have the new mechanisms of the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) to help us in our work.

Of a more immediate nature, many delegations have also noted the recent tremors in global financial markets that signal uncertainty that could affect economic development in all our countries. Furthermore, in the area of the environment, we are likewise faced with an issue of great global importance - climate change.

The Philippines would like to note that there are similarities to be found in these two concerns of financial instability and climate change. In both cases, it is the poorest and most vulnerable nations who stand to suffer the most should the situation deteriorate as some fear, and in both instances, it also appears that it is the activities in the developed nations that have primarily led to the development of this pair of problems.

It is therefore a challenge to all of us in the Second Committee that both these concerns fall within our responsibility, and to paraphrase the Secretary General’s statement at the opening of the General Debate the other week, we also need to have a stronger Second Committee for a better world.

Madam Chair,

The Philippines remains committed to pursuing all Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs), including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and I am pleased to inform you that because of our relatively stable economic growth, my country is generally considered to be on track in achieving our MDG targets. We do face challenges in ensuring that these positive economic achievements trickle down to the majority of the poor, but as long as the global economy remains healthy, continued economic growth will help ensure that the programs the Philippines have put in place will be able to deliver the benefits to our masses.

Unfortunately, many statements delivered here have stated that progress in meeting all these development goals is uneven across the globe, and in some countries they are apparently way behind schedule. So much so that some have issued an urgent MDG Call to Action. It is for this reason that discussions under Items 52 and 53 of our Agenda takes on extra significance.

Under Item 52, the Philippines is particularly interested in pursuing our innovative initiative on Debt-for-Equity in MDG projects that has been addressed over two years in General Assembly resolutions A/RES/60/187 and A/RES/61/188. You may recall that this initiative was designed to provide an alternative mechanism to solving the debt problem of developing countries, including low and middle-income developing countries.

To outline the main features of this proposal, the debt-for-equity initiative would have creditor developed countries, multilateral institutions, and large commercial banks put into the economies of the debtor countries 50 per cent of previously agreed portions of the debt-service payments due them, in the form of equities, and channeled to MDG projects such as mass-housing, safe water systems, hospitals, micro-financing, infrastructure and/or reforestation.

As we are at the mid-point on our 2015 MDG targets, and many have noted problems in achieving these goals, we must look at all possible ways to address the issue, and I call upon all of you to help push this initiative forward.

Similarly under Agenda Item 53, the Philippines is also looking forward to discussing and collaborating with all like-minded countries during the upcoming High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development from the 23 rd –24 th of this month.

Madam Chair,

I would be remiss if I did not briefly expand on Philippine initiatives in the area of Climate Change that were earlier given during the Secretary General’s High Level Event on Climate Change - as this is an issue that impacts on all aspects of global development.

Our President, H.E. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo recently created a Presidential Task Force on Climate Change that will assess the impact of climate change in the country, especially on the most vulnerable sectors/areas like water, agriculture, coastal areas, as well as on the terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

This Task Force will also ensure strict compliance to air emission standards and act with urgency to combat deforestation and environmental degradation as well as apprehend violators of relevant rules and legislation.

The Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) was also instructed to prioritize Climate Change in policy formulation and legislation designed to progressively reduce the usage of water and energy per unit of farm, factory and other economic output.

Furthermore, even while recognizing the need for UN action on climate change, we have also actively contributed to regional calls for action, particularly through the ASEAN and APEC. In these contexts, the call for action on climate change is linked with the need to consider energy security as well.

The Philippines has also done its fair share of ‘thinking globally, acting locally,’ by initiating and pursuing a comprehensive and sustainable program on alternative energy sources. We recently passed a Biofuels Law and as a result of this legislation, the Philippines is about to embark on large scale cultivation of the Jatropha plant for biofuel feedstock. Aside from this, an Executive Order on Generating Investments in Geothermal Areas was also recently signed.

The Philippines will table a resolution calling on the international community to save the mountains, the last frontiers of the world’s forests that serve as natural sinks which helps prevent the depletion of the ozone layer. We look forward to the Second Committee’s endorsement of our proposal.

Madam Chair,

I wish to recall that the Second Committee endorsed by consensus our resolution last year (A/Res/61/217) calling for international support for the rehabilitation of the effects of the unprecedented oil spill off Guimaras in the Philippines. If the report of the Secretary-General on action taken thereon so warrants, my delegation would propose further action on it.

Finally, and even though the issue of migration is not on this year’s 2 nd Committee Agenda, I wish to inform you that the preparations for next year’s Second Global Forum on Migration and Development that will be held in Manila in October 2008 are well underway.

Given the continuing relevance of migration issues in our interconnected world, I thank the UN Secretary General for his full support of the Philippine hosting next year and I would like to take this opportunity to invite all of you to participate in this event.

Thank you.

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