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UNGA75 Second Committee General Debate - Philippine National Statement

Monday, 05 October 2020
H.E. ENRIQUE A. MANALO Permanent Representative
UN Headquarters, New York


Mr. Chair, I will now deliver remarks in my national capacity. 


Our President said at the General Debate: “COVID-19 knows no borders. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age. It knows no creed.” The only way forward against this common virulent enemy is global solidarity and strengthened multilateralism.


The UN Secretary-General aptly said “no one among us is safe, until everyone is safe.” In the Philippines, our cry for battle is “we heal as one, we recover as one.”


With increasing available data on the adverse impacts of the pandemic on middle-income countries such as the Philippines, we believe that it is imperative, and the only decent way forward for our people, that the UN system, the global community, respond accordingly and concretely.


Prior to COVID, the Philippines was poised to become an upper middle-income country by the end of this year. We had one of the strongest fiscal positions, with the highest revenue-to-GDP and lowest debt-to-GDP rate in 2019. We had also achieved one of the highest credit ratings, attaining a BBB+ to A- grade. Further, we had one of the lowest unemployment and underemployment rates in January of 2020, as well as the lowest poverty incidence. All of these led to significant results, the most important of which was the lifting 6 million Filipinos out of poverty.


Within the first three months of the pandemic, we prioritized saving lives and improving our health system capacity, even while our economy took a serious hit and went into recession. With the easing of restrictions in June, we have seen gradual recovery. However, we remain vigilant against persistent risks, both domestically and from external factors. Our government is responding with a phased and adaptive recovery approach that prioritizes health and the recovery of consumer confidence.


We thank the World Health Organization for its leadership and strategic guidance in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. In supporting the global COVID-19 response, the Philippines is participating in the WHO Solidarity Trials, including the clinical trials for therapeutics, and we have shared our experiences with WHO Member States.


As the world races to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to end the pandemic, we add our voice to the call to make the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, accessible to all peoples and countries. The Philippine Government is also pleased to join the global mechanism to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility.  


Our country’s economic advances are now stalled by the pandemic, and our people are bearing the daily brunt of its impacts. Our call for a serious, urgent and concrete response by the UN system to address the challenges faced by middle-income countries - pre, during and post-COVID – is firmly based on this national reality.


We urge for stronger cooperation and solidarity among Member States in providing support to those who are most affected by the pandemic, peoples and countries alike. We specifically call on Member States to promote and protect the human rights of migrant workers, regardless of their status. Migrants are playing critical roles in the frontlines of this pandemic and they are disproportionately exposed to the health risks posed by the pandemic. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic on migrants and their families is also immense. The Philippines attributes more than 10% of its GDP from remittances. The impact of the projected drop of these remittances is thus very real.


The Philippines looks forward to the convening of the 2021 Food Systems Summit as it aims to generate commitment and galvanize concrete actions to transforming food systems to achieve sustainable development. Agriculture remains a key source of livelihood for many Filipinos, and COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted smallholders and family farmers who produce 80 percent of the world’s food. The Food Systems Summit should thus take these considerations in its outcome.


The Philippines is firmly committed towards reaching an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. As one of the planet’s 17 mega biodiverse countries, the Philippines hosts a great concentration of unique species per unit area in the world.  Biodiversity underpins not only our economy, but also our collective well-being. 


We recognize the imperative to scale up commitments in these crucial times, however, bridging funding gaps remains tough for a middle-income country like us whose GDP contracted by around 16.5% amid the COVID-19 pandemic. International cooperation and collective action are crucial to achieve the goals and targets of the CBD.


As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, we reaffirm our commitment to multilateralism. The UN, as a collective of sovereignties, is the core of multilateral global order and must stay that way.


Thank you, Chair.