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

Philippine Statement
Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Philippines
at the General Debate of the 2008 Session of the
Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34)
Monday, 10 March 2008

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, the Philippine Delegation congratulates you and the members of your bureau on your well-deserved election and expresses confidence that under your able leadership and guidance, the Special Committee would again be able to accomplish the work it has set out to do for the 2008 session. 

The Philippines expresses its appreciation to the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Jean Marie Guehenno as well as the Officer in Charge for Field Support Jane Holl Lutt for sharing with us their perspectives. Their insights gave added significance to the observance this year of the 60 th anniversary of the United Nations’ flagship enterprise—peacekeeping.

The Philippines takes this opportunity to welcome our newest partners in peacekeeping—Burundi, Colombia, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Qatar and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Moreover, the Philippines associates itself with the statement made by the distinguished representative of Morocco on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Mr. Chairman,

In his report, A/62/627, the Secretary General outlined the progress that has been made on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Special Committee, particularly the ongoing restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the implementation of the Peace Operations 2010 roadmap.

The Philippines has been closely monitoring the restructuring of the peacekeeping machinery and is certainly pleased with the achievements that have been made so far in the eight priority areas laid down by the Secretariat, particularly in the formulation of common policies and processes that would allow both the DPKO and the Department of Field Support (DFS) to coordinate work effectively. The Philippines is thus confident that the DPKO and the DFS will meet the restructuring targets by June 2008.

The Philippines welcomes the creation of the Integrated Operational Teams (IOTs) and is particularly impressed with the success of the first IOT that was deployed in Darfur. It hopes that as a result of this, additional resources would be made available to ensure that these teams are able to effectively accomplish their tasks. In particular, it hopes that a full staff complement is assigned to the IOT covering Asia and the Middle East.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines notes the ongoing process to recruit and select new personnel, particularly military officers who will be seconded to the Secretariat. In making the final selection, it hopes that in addition to regional representation, consideration should also be given to troop contributing countries like the Philippines, which have never been given the opportunity to serve at UN Headquarters, particularly with the Office of Military Affairs.

The Philippines would also like to highlight the important role of the Public Affairs Unit within the Office of the Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Operations in making the public appreciate and understand the role of the UN peacekeeper. It believes that the close cooperation between the DPKO and the Department of Public Information would translate to more information projects that would target audiences not only in the host countries but in the troop contributing countries as well.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines notes the extensive experience of the United Nations in supporting security sector reform—especially by demonstrating that effective cooperation has to be based on a shared understanding of the goals and objectives of security sector reform, while at the same time respecting the different ways these are addressed by national actors.

The Organization should continue to support national actors, particularly in post-conflict scenarios, to allow them to make informed security choices favorable to long-term development, sustainable peace and democratic governance.

The Philippines also looks forward to the continued successful implementation of the new evaluation capacity in the DPKO. Since this is designed to monitor mission progress towards mandate implementation, this capacity will provide a much-needed mechanism for assessing the validity and relevance of guidance materials in their daily application.

As training plays a critical role in implementing guidance materials into individual knowledge and skills, the Philippines hopes that the Policy, Evaluation and Training Division of the DPKO will respond to this valuable task by strengthening the linkages among the best practices and guidance system, on one hand, and evaluation and training, on the other.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines wishes to reiterate its unequivocal support and cooperation in helping the United Nations maintain the peace in conflict areas worldwide. As it has done when it first deployed an Air Force squadron to support UN operations in the Congo more than 40 years ago, the Philippines is ready to heed the call of the UN and will send its men and women to where they are needed, when they are needed.

The Philippines takes serious note of the demand for more police officers to support UN missions as evidenced by the 65 percent surge in the authorized strengths of the police components of UN peace operations.

The United Nations can count on the Philippines in this regard. It has gone a long way since it sent the first Filipino police officers to serve with the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1992. At present, the Philippines is one of the largest contributors of individual police officers to UN operations, with 320 serving in nine mission areas.

Only recently, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, responding to the request of no less than the Secretary General, ordered the deployment of 48 police officers to support the United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). In the coming months, the Philippines will be sending more officers to other UN mission areas where their experience and expertise are needed. Hopefully, in the near future, it would also finally be able to send its first formed police unit overseas.

The Philippines shall also endeavor to deploy more female personnel in response to the Secretary General’s call for troop contributing countries to increase the number of women serving in the field. It shall also seriously look at how it could match the number of women personnel deployed with the actual percentage of women in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines wishes to underscore once again the serious importance it places on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse. It may be noted that as early as 2005, the Philippines has put in place a zero-tolerance policy not only on sexual exploitation and abuse but on all other misconduct that may be committed abroad by its men and women in uniform.

At home, the Philippines can be expected to continue taking steps to reinforce this policy including the conduct of a more rigid prescreening and predeployment process for Filipino peacekeepers. Here at the United Nations, the Philippines will continue to support all initiatives aimed at addressing the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Philippine delegation would also like to welcome such positive steps as the creation of posts in the conduct and discipline units at headquarters and in mission areas; the adoption of the revised Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and Troop Contributing Countries; and the formulation of the draft comprehensive strategy on victim assistance. It cites in particular the mission focused communication campaign to combat prostitution/transactional sex in field missions.

The Philippines also supports measures to improve the welfare of peacekeeping personnel. It subscribes to the idea of “common service in the pursuit of peace” as the main purpose that binds peacekeeping personnel. It is confident that the Secretariat’s efforts to implement a personnel welfare strategy will bolster their shared sense of purpose and their ability to overcome the special constraints that life in field missions entails.

The Philippines’ concern for the welfare of our troops should also extend to their spiritual requirements, hence, the need to consider the role of the chaplaincy in the peacekeeping contingents. As the lead country that advocates the promotion of interfaith dialogue, the Philippines would also like to request the DPKO to consider further measures to make both military and police peacekeepers sensitive to the cultural and religious circumstances of their areas of assignment.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines, like any other troop contributing country, gives particular importance to the safety and security of the men and women it sends to distant lands to help keep the peace. It certainly appreciates the steps being taken to protect UN peacekeepers wherever they may be but it would like to reiterate its view that such measures should cover all possible threats to the safety and well-being of UN Blue Helmets.

A total of 109 peacekeepers gave their lives while serving under the blue and white flag of the United Nations from January 2007 to February 2008 with almost half of them succumbing to health-related causes. The figures include an Army officer from the Philippines who supposedly died of malaria while serving as a military observer with the UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).

It has been more than four months since Lt. Col. Renerio Batalla of the Philippines expired minutes after he was evacuated by helicopter from Rembek but there are still questions left unanswered. Unfortunately, we do not have the answers as until now the Philippine Government has not received a copy of the Board of Inquiry report on the circumstances surrounding his death.

The Philippines seeks those answers to help Lieutenant Colonel Batalla’s family find closure and also to allow us to draw lessons from this tragedy. We are sure that there are many things we could learn from his death the same way we could learn from deaths due to health-related causes or other non-hostile incidents, most especially those that could have been prevented not only by proper screening, training and supervision but also by the provision of the needed support systems in the field.

Mr. Chairman,

It is with regret that we learned this morning that Undersecretary General Guehenno will no longer be overseeing our peacekeeping initiatives by the middle of this year. The Philippines joins others in paying tribute to Undersecretary General Guehenno who it shall always remember for effectively steering UN peacekeeping through one of the more challenging chapters in the organization’s history. The Government of the Philippines wishes him well in his future endeavors.

The Philippine Delegation will now conclude by paying homage to the unsung heroes of UN peacekeeping—the nameless and faceless men and women from all races; past and present; at UN Headquarters and in the field—who in their own special way helped make the world a peaceful place to live in. The Philippines most especially remembers today those who have offered their lives in the cause of peace, in the service to humanity.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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