Marcos to discuss climate change, food security in UNGA speech
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 16) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is set to tackle the most pressing issues concerning the country including climate change, in his first speech in front of other world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next week.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Friday that the President is keen on emphasizing the importance of fighting climate change worldwide, coming from a country that is so vulnerable to its impacts.
“I think the general idea is for him to push more for the world to start really looking at climate change…this is an urgent matter that the world needs to take stock of,” Romualdez said.
“We see it everywhere, we see it now in the country, we see it here in the US,” he added. “Many of our friends and allies are pleased that we are taking a very strong stand on this one.”
Romualdez emphasized the administration’s inclination to look at alternative sources of clean and renewable energy, as well as the need to ramp up the development of the mining sector.
In his first State of the Nation Address in July, Marcos stressed the need to increase the country’s use of “hydropower, geothermal power, solar, and wind” energy sources and rehabilitate its water supply systems, especially in urban areas. He also expressed openness to building smaller scale modular nuclear power plants in the country.
“I don’t think he will be able to make it although he has indicated in the past that he wanted to attend that, because it’s very close to his heart, climate change,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President is also expected to outline his administration’s other key priorities such as food security and the rule of law.
Romualdez, however, said he is unsure if Marcos will introduce the latter to assert the Philippines’ position on the 2016 decision by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration which favored the country over Beijing’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.
“I’m afraid I don’t have very much knowledge of what the President plans to do as to our rule of law,” the envoy said. “I’m sure you’re referring to the rule of law when it comes to the seas, the problem we have with the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.”
“That one, I think, is something that he will probably make a decision on whether he will take it up on the global stage,” he added.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Kira Azucena on Thursday said there is a “very strong” section on the rule of law and the role of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in the draft statement which the department has prepared for Marcos.
She noted, however, that this will still be vetted by the Office of the President.
Marcos will address the UNGA, the UN’s main policy-making organ, on Sept. 20 during the High-Level General Debate at around 3:15 or 3:30 p.m. in New York (or 3:15 or 3:30 a.m. Philippine time on Sept. 21), the DFA said.
This will be his first engagement with the UN and his third official overseas trip following his state visits to Indonesia and Singapore earlier this month.
The 77th session of the UNGA is also going to be the first in-person assembly among the heads of state since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.