“The United Nations is our one great hope for a peaceful and free world.” –Ralph Bunche
The last time I interviewed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano was when he graced the Philippine Independence Day celebration in June 2015 at the Philippine Consulate on Fifth Avenue.
He was then a senator and was interested to run for vice president of the Philippines.
He did run and lost to Rep. Leni Robredo who also beat second placer, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Cayetano, who ran under PDP-Laban standard bearer Rodrigo Roa Duterte, spoke about the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFW), the Philippine economy, and against graft and corruption.
When he spoke during the United Nations General Assembly on September 23, we heard a different Alan Peter Cayetano.
He wanted to convince the 72nd Edition of UNGA’s General Debate that the Philippine government “seeks to protect the human rights of peaceful law-abiding people” in the country’s battle against corruption, crime and illegal drugs.
Cayetano said: “The Philippines integrates the human rights agenda in its development initiatives for the purpose of protecting everyone, especially the most vulnerable, from lawlessness, violence, and anarchy.”
The very principle of “responsibility to protect” must encompass the vast majority of peaceful law-abiding people who must be protected from those who are not, Cayetano explained.
He added that as a “responsible leader”, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, launched a vigorous campaign against the illegal drug trade “to save lives, preserve families, protect communities and stop the country’s slide into a narco-state, adding that the campaign was never an instrument to violate any individual’s or group’s human rights.
As of August 2017, the drug trade had penetrated at least 24,848 barangays. This is 59 per cent of the total of 42,036 of the smallest government units spanning the country’s archipelago.
The former senator said the Philippines have also discovered the intimate and symbiotic relationship between terrorism vis-a-vis poverty and the illegal drug trade.
These terrorists, he said, were somehow able to bring together an assortment of extremists, criminals, mercenaries and foreign fighters who attempted to take control of Marawi. The national armed forces will regain full control of Marawi from Islamic State-inspired terrorists.
On regionalism, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, has overcome the divisions, fears, and hostilities of the past, forging regional cooperation in promoting growth, development, and peaceful settlement of disputes, Cayetano said.
Here’s part of Cayetano’s speech:
“Mr. President, Excellencies, The path to peace must be walked with patience. To achieve any purpose with others—be they powers or people, patience is needed. The opposite of patience is impatience—the cause and aggravation of conflict.
“Someone said that ‘Talk, talk is better than war, war.’ Listening is even better than talking. We must listen to others more than we listen to ourselves. Hopefully we know what we are talking about. But others may know what we do not. We can learn only if we stop talking, and listen.
“We may think we know how others can do things better than they’ve done it. Maybe our way is more efficient. But the time gained by that efficiency will be time lost convincing others that our way is better, rather than a compromise between our way and theirs.
“Real change in the world order necessitates cooperation. Nothing affecting others can be undertaken without their willing involvement, without getting their agreement on the purpose and manner of it. Achieving a shared purpose beyond any single one’s ability requires cooperation.
“But how else can we get cooperation if not with the patience to explain why it is needed—and the equal patience to listen.
“This is why we have the United Nations, the largest cooperative endeavor in human history. We use the UN to speak out but equally also to listen. And somehow arrive at a consensus, or at least a modus vivendi on how to proceed—in peace and therefore with a greater prospect of progress.
“The theme for this year’s session—“Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”–captures a promise that everyone who has stood here vowed to fulfill for his people, and the rest of the peoples of the United Nations, as the Preamble of the Charter puts it.
“Yet, after 72 years, while much has been achieved, much more has to be done. The promise is still very much a work in progress.
“We, the peoples of the United Nations, battle new threats that undermine such success as we’ve achieved, and frustrate further progress in peace, development and human rights—the three pillars of the United Nations.”/WDJ