Phil Senators praise President Duterte for ‘great speech’ at UN

MANILA – Senators on Wednesday lauded President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for the speech he delivered before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly early Wednesday.

“Great speech, Mr. President,” Senate Pro Tempore President Ralph Recto said in a statement. “If there’s an Emmy for the UN General Assembly speeches, the one he delivered can win the prize for the best written.”

Recto also praised Duterte’s speech writers “who put policies to prose”.

“What they put together is the template for presidential addresses: cohesive, coherent and straight to the point,” he said. “If he was able to convey his thoughts with clarity to the world, all the more he should do the same to his own people at this time when they need hope and direction.”

The lawmaker from Batangas particularly commended Duterte’s assertion of the Philippines’ arbitral victory against China’s massive claims in the South China Sea.

“The President’s unequivocal stance against China’s illegal reclamation in our seas should to put rest any ambivalence on where he and our government stand on this important issue,” he said.

With the whole world watching, Recto said Duterte was able to plant the country’s flag “on a territory that historically and legally is ours” after the President affirmed The Hague-based Permanent Court Arbitration’s award in 2012.

Strong, unequivocal

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Filipinos, regardless of their politics, should feel proud after Duterte delivered “strong and unequivocal position” on the West Philippine Sea.

“‘Alipin’ (Slave) no more! Hearing the President invoke the Award before the UN General Assembly while firmly rejecting any attempt to undermine it should now erase doubts on where he stands regarding the West Philippine Sea issue,” Lacson said.

In his 20-minute speech, Duterte also talked about other pressing issues particularly the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

He said “universal access” to Covid-19 vaccine is the only way to beat the pandemic which severely affected many economies due to restrictions imposed to contain the virus.

Duterte vowed to continue to protect the human rights of Filipinos, especially from “the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.”

He also slammed several interest groups for “weaponizing” human rights to discredit his administration.

“They attempt to discredit the functioning institutions and mechanisms of a democratic country and a popularly elected government, which in its last two years, still enjoy the same widespread approval and support,” Duterte said.

Duterte also called for full implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions.

He took the opportunity to defend the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 (Republic Act No. 11479), describing it as a “legal framework” to help curb terrorism in the country.

The popular Filipino leader thanked fellow UN member states for helping and protecting the Filipino migrant workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

He described the Filipino migrant workers particularly the health workers as among the best in the world.

This year marks the first time that the global body’s high-level general debate and other high-level meetings were done almost completely virtually due to restrictions posed by the health crisis. (PNA)