The Philippines remains committed to the Sustainable Development Goals despite the downward pressure created by the coronavirus disease on the country’s growth, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Tuesday.
Speaking during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Duterte said that with the Philippines’ poverty rate reduced at 16.6 percent; and a sustained economic growth rate of 6.4 percent between 2010 and 2019, the country was on track to becoming an upper-middle income country by the end of 2020.
But the pandemic has placed the Philippine economy in recession. Despite the drawback, the President said his country remains committed to achieve its goals.
Also during his speech, the President thanked countries that assisted Filipino migrants as the Philippines embarks on an unprecedented repatriation program.
“We thank the countries that have provided Filipino migrants with residence permits, access to testing, treatment and related health services in this pandemic, he said.
“We brought back most of our seafarers who were stranded because of COVID19 restrictions. We pioneered with the IMO the Green Lane for safe changes of seafaring crews.”
In this time of crisis, nations need stronger cooperation in protecting the rights of migrants, regardless of their migrant status, he said adding everyone must adhere to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
The pandemic has devastated Filipino migrant workers with many losing not only their livelihood, but also their health and lives as well.
More than 345,000 overseas Filipino workers need to come home under the government’s repatriation program and the government has so far brought back half that number.
President Duterte also tackled human rights during his address saying the Philippines continues to protect human rights, especially from the scourge of illegal drugs, criminality, and terrorism.
It is disheartening, however, that a number of interest groups have weaponized human rights, he said.
“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,” he told his fellow leaders.
“These detractors pass themselves off as human rights advocates while preying on the most vulnerable humans; even using children as soldiers or human shields in
encounters. Even schools are not spared from their malevolence and anti-government propaganda.”
These groups, the President said, hide their misdeeds under the blanket of human rights. PND