For the first time since assuming office, President Rodrigo Duterte will address the United Nations’ General Assembly following the series of attacks he has leveled against it, Malacañang said Monday as the world's largest intergovernmental organization marks 75 years.
Duterte will join the high-level general debate of the international body, which will happen on Sept. 22 to 26, Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje said.
He said the world would be watching the 75-year-old Duterte talk about issues of key importance to the Philippines, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights and justice.
Asked if Duterte would address the criticisms on his war on drugs, Borje said: "Yes, that will be part of the President's speech. He will address issues on human rights and justice.
"The President will articulate principal Philippine positions on peace and security, which includes terrorism and the geopolitical developments in Asia and the Pacific.”
In July last year, the UN Human Rights Council approved a resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the killings linked to Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.
This year's UN General Assembly will be conducted online due to the limitations set by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"This will be the President's first time to address the UN General Assembly, the main deliberative board of the UN where all the 193 member-states are represented," Borje said.
At the start of his presidency, Duterte threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the world body after a UN human rights expert said his encouragement of security forces to kill drug suspects violated international law. Duterte later retracted the threat and described it as a "joke."
Last year, Duterte again lashed out at the UN, calling it "inutile" over its supposed failure to prevent wars and protect nations from pirates.
The Philippines is a founding member of the UN.
This year, however, showed the "intensity and the urgency needed to address global issues," which was why Duterte decided to join the UN General Assembly, Borje said.
"The President recognizes that the Philippines cannot do it alone and the United Nations is the world’s biggest platform.
“The participation of the President has always been considered since the beginning of his term. But of course, this year takes on special significance.”
Duterte's address can be watched in the Philippines at 9 p.m. today, Tuesday.