In his first three months in office, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has had to tackle mainly domestic issues and concerns.
But on September 20, he had the unique opportunity to bring his key advocacies to the premier world stage: no less than the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.
In his speech at the UN high-level debate, Mr. Marcos emphasized that disputes should only be resolved through peaceful means, citing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: “By reinforcing the predictability and stability of international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS, we provided an example of how states should resolve their differences: through reason and through right,” he said. This is the correct policy particularly in relation to our territorial and maritime disputes with China on the South China Sea.
The President also called on all nations to take part in the common effort to fight the effects of climate change.
He described climate change as the “greatest threat” affecting all countries and people: “Those who are least responsible suffer the most. This injustice must be corrected, and those who need to do more must act now.”
“This threat knows no borders, no social class, nor any geopolitical consideration. How we address it will be the true test of our time,” adding that fighting climate change would require a “united effort,” and that industrialized countries should do their part in mitigating the environmental crisis.
Mr. Marcos likewise cited the need for investments in food security for a “future that is resilient and inclusive” where people can be “healthy, happy, and secure.”
He said nations must take concrete steps towards a modern and resilient agriculture as “food is not just a trade commodity nor a livelihood — it is an existential imperative and a moral one” and the “very basis of human security.”
As concurrent Agriculture Secretary, he is in a good position to give agriculture the importance it deserves in the country’s economic development.
The President also asked for the support of the United Nations for the Philippines’ candidature to the Security Council for the term 2027-2028, saying the Philippine experience in building peace and forging new paths of cooperation can “enrich the work of the Security Council.” The Security Council’s primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security.
Echoing his call for unity in the country, Mr. Marcos rallied world leaders to unite and shape the world’s transformation.
“The future beckons and we can embark upon that journey as single nations or as a world in harmony. I say, let the challenges of one people be the challenges for all nations. And in that way the success of one will be a success for us all,” he pointed out.
“The peoples of the world look to their leaders, to us, to make into reality these aspirations for our future. We must not fail them. And if we stand together, we will not fail them. If we stand together, we can only succeed.”
It’s not often that the Philippine President has the chance to address other world leaders and ask for unity and cooperation in solving common concerns.
But barely three months in office, Mr. Marcos has demonstrated a clear grasp of the challenges that all nations face today, and, more important, offered suggestions on how we can all move forward in the years to come.