PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday called for respect for international law in a speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that marked his debut on the global stage.
An inclusive and rule-based international order that is “informed by the principles of equity and of justice” remains an important stabilizer amid global tides, he said at the meeting of global leaders in New York City.
“By reinforcing the predictability and stability of international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), we provided an example of how states should resolve their differences: through reason and through right,” he said, based on a video uploaded on YouTube.
“Our very Charter is being violated around the world as we speak,” Mr. Marcos said. “In Asia, our hard-won peace and stability is under threat by increasing strategic and ideological tensions.”
He invoked the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes, amid the war in Ukraine and rising tensions between the US and China over Taiwan.
Mr. Marcos has vowed to pursue an independent foreign policy, while also recognizing the country’s long-standing alliance with the US. Rodrigo R. Duterte, his predecessor, led a foreign policy pivot to China away from western countries.
He said the Philippines would keep its “friendly” foreign policy, adding that it would “continue to be a friend to all, and an enemy of none.”
The president told an economic forum at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday a future with the US as an ally is inconceivable. “The US has not failed us.”
Mr. Marcos spoke before the UN amid tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, which has called on the Philippines to back its bid for inclusion in the UN system.
Taiwan last month angered China for welcoming US House Speaker Nancy D. Pelosi. Days after, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Mr. Marcos in Manila and renewed his country’s commitment to stand by Manila.
US President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has told CBS News American forces would defend Taiwan in case of a Chinese invasion, Reuters reported. This drew an angry response from China, which said it sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.
US officials including Mr. Blinken have made the same commitment to the Philippines, but local experts have doubted the US would keep its promise.
Some Filipino foreign policy experts have been urging the Marcos government to manage the country’s sea dispute with China through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The US recently approved an arms package for Taiwan that include 60 Harpoon Block II, anti-ship missiles and 100 Sidewinder missiles for warplanes’ air-to-air firepower.
In his speech, Mr. Marcos also demanded financing from developed nations, urging these to correct “historical injustice” brought about by climate change. This was accelerated by rapid industrialization that has barely benefited poor countries, he said.
“The effects of climate change are uneven and reflect a historical injustice,” he said. “This injustice must be corrected, and those who need to do more must act now.”
He said the Philippines has been increasingly exposed to the worst effects of climate change. “We absorb more carbon dioxide than we emit. And yet, we are the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change.”
Mr. Marcos said he looks forward to “concrete outcomes” at a UN-backed climate conference in Egypt later this year. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza