Duterte to discuss ‘peaceful’ transition in Biden’s Democracy Summit
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to talk about efforts to ensure a peaceful transfer of power and to promote peace, development, and public health during the US-led Summit for Democracy to be held this weekend, a Palace official said yesterday.
Presidential adviser on foreign affairs and chief of presidential protocol Robert Borje noted that Duterte's term is about to end and that a democracy cannot be strong if there is no peaceful and regular transfer of power.
"I think this will figure very strongly and very prominently in the speech of the president. It's an admission on the part of the president, and maybe reaffirmation of his strong belief, that it is his responsibility first and foremost as the president to ensure that there is a peaceful transition, because without it, we cannot be called a democracy. That means, we are authoritarian," Borje told state-run People's Television.
"If elections are not peaceful, honest, free, and credible, it calls into question the integrity of the electoral process and of democracy," he added.
Borje said the president may also discuss measures designed to ensure peace, development, and public safety and to protect public health from COVID-19.
"I think an important part of the speech of the president (will be about) the components of democracy which are vital to make democracy stronger. And I think this is going to be said, in the context, not just of what he's done during this administration, but working on his mandate to deliver peace and development, safety and security to the people, and in the context of the pandemic, health," the Palace protocol chief said.
"At the end of it all, what the president is saying is that the Philippines is democratic, Filipinos are democracy-loving people. We value democracy. We may continue to have challenges as a democracy, but we're firmly committed to democratic values. And that's always been his message as the president of the Philippines," he added.
Borje said Duterte's national intervention statement would also tackle the Philippines' experiences as a democracy, what he needs to do as a president of a democratic country, and the challenges that need to be addressed to keep democracy strong.
The Summit for Democracy, which will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies, will be held from December 9 to 10. It aims to bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to "set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action," according to the US state department. About 100 heads of states are expected to attend the virtual event.
"The United States wants commitments from partners. According to the invitation of President Biden to President Duterte, it is being done in the spirit of learning and in all humility. It shows that democracies have challenges but it should be a hindrance to strengthen democracy worldwide," Borje said.
"I think it's considered controversial because not all of the countries in the world were invited by the United States. Be that as it may, that's the decision by the host. But I think, what is important to notice is that by participating in this summit, I don't think it can be considered an 'us versus them' type of meeting, at least on the part of the Philippines," he added.
The administration of former US president Barack Obama had criticized the deaths tied to Duterte's drug war, a move that the Philippine government described as an interference of a sovereign country's internal matters. In one of his speeches five years ago, Duterte called the US "a land of hypocrisy" and claimed that 40,000 Americans are killed every year due to drug-related issues.
But in a public address last October, the president described the US as "generous" and thanked the American government for donating COVID-19 vaccines to the Philippines. He even expressed willingness to travel to Washington to personally thank the US government for the jabs.
Borje said the summit would be an opportunity for countries to learn from one another as they face challenges brought about by the pandemic.
"An important aspect of the discussion will always be good governance, and how certain values and certain principles need to be strengthened because we have shared interest, we have shared values, and we have shared principles," Borje said.
"It will be a good opportunity for the president to show that the Philippines is a democracy and it will remain a democracy, and Filipinos are free and democractic in heart, thought and deed," he added.
A thread of major developments in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States from January to December 2021. (Presidential photo/Joey Dalumpines and AFP/Angela Weiss)
The US government establishes a five-year grant worth P800 million to promote natural resource conservation, and ecosystem and community resilience, by supporting civil society organizations in advocating for, and participating in, good natural resource governance.
The grant will be launched through the Investing in Sustainability and Partnerships for Inclusive Growth and Regenerative Ecosystems (INSPIRE) project.
“Through the INSPIRE project, USAID is pleased to support the Philippines’ efforts to conserve the country’s rich biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of climate change while making sure that the environment continues to benefit many Filipinos whose incomes depend upon these natural resources," USAID Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan says.
The United States Embassy in the Philippines launches a livelihood program for those who are recovering from substance abuse order.
In partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US Embassy's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is providing PhP5 million ($100,000) to support the "Ako ang Saklay" program.
“Livelihood programs, such as those facilitated by Ako ang Saklay, can result in quality-of-life changes for persons who use drugs, their families, and their communities,” INL representative Mark Everson says.
The US Peace Corps, in partnership with the DepEd, concludes a series of virtual trainings for educators on using newly developed distance training materials.
The training ran from October 12 to 29, which involved 1,000 teachers, principals and supervisors from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
“Studies show that high-quality instructional materials significantly increase academic outcomes by allowing students to engage more deeply and meaningfully with their learning. This has never been more important than now, with students still schooling online due to the ongoing pandemic,” DepEd Bureau of Learning Delivery Director Leila Areola says.
USAID launches a five-year project worth P750 million ($15 million) to build climate resilience in the Philippines.
The Climate Resilient Cities project will help cities in the country to mitigate, and endure the impacts of climate change by increasing their access to climate financing and tools to build resilience, the US Embassy says.
"Addressing the climate crisis, and particularly the vulnerability of cities, is crucial to helping build a more prosperous, resilient Philippines for current and future generations," USAID Philippines Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan says.
US military service members on Tuesday delivered ICU beds and COVID-19 cold storage units wort P758,750 to the Palawan provincial government.
The donation was made in response to the request of the Palawan provincial government amid a surge of COVID-19 cases in the province, the US Embassy says in a media release.
“This donation will help the people of Palawan a lot by upgrading our ability to fight against the pandemic. It comes at the perfect time due to the surge of new cases and will help us face this new challenge," Palawan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Office director Jeremias Alili says.
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