An Appeal to the United Nations from a former Filipino Delegate to the United Nations General Assembly
I am Michael Francis Acebedo Lopez, a Filipino and a former delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. Nearly ten years before the questionable rise of one Leni Robredo to the Philippine Vice Presidency, I had the honor of representing my country, the Philippines, as the youngest Filipino delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in its history. I also had the opportunity to be the Philippines’s first actual Youth Representative or Delegate, a partial fulfillment of our commitment to the UN’s World Programme of Action for Youth or WPAY.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accepted my letter of credential signed by the Philippine Foreign Minister. There it was stated that I was attending the General Assembly “as Adviser to the Third Committee Plenary Session on Social Development, including questions relating to the World Social Situation and to Youth, Ageing, Disabled Persons and the Family.” In the august halls of the UN World Headquarters in New York, I also had the honor to draft and deliver the Philippine Statement to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.
In light of Vice President Robredo’s video message to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs posted on TIME Magazine’s website and shared by various media organizations, I am recalling the mandate I was once given in an effort to reach out to all of you, member states of the UN and all organizations within the UN System. If said mandate is not sufficient because it has long since lapsed, I am hinging my appeal therefore on my being a natural born citizen of one of only four Asian nations who signed the 1945 Charter that created the United Nations.
I am making this urgent appeal on behalf of each and every Filipino grossly misrepresented by our a Vice President in said video message, a Vice President whose own mandate has been called into question, with the highest electoral tribunal of the land, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, having considered the election protest against her win to be sufficient in both form and substance.
With unfounded claims and unsubstantiated allegations, Vice President Robredo wantonly painted an impossibly grim image of the Philippine situation if only to attract international attention and action. To say that she delved in speculation is understating the gravity of her made-up claims and the severity of the damage she has caused on our country and our people in so doing. In reporting to the world what she failed to report to Philippine authorities, assuming there are actual reports received by the Office of the Vice President, she has not only embarrassed our country, she has betrayed the public trust and committed economic sabotage, both punishable under Philippine laws.
For her to say that “our people feel both hopeless and helpless” is a brazen lie. Confidence in the presidency is at an all time high (while the same cannot be said of the vice president whose approval ratings continue to plummet); as a people, we feel hopeful and empowered like we’ve never felt before.
Please understand that at the heart of this is destructive party politics. It is the Vice President’s party flexing its muscles to overthrow a duly elected government so they may once more regain control of government. Perhaps she feels time is running out for her because of developments in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. So she and her allies have launched an expensive campaign using human rights and the War on Drugs as their excuse to bait the world into interfering in our domestic issues.
When the Vice President says 7,000 people have been killed in the President’s War on Drugs, she fails to mention that this is set against the backdrop of around 700,000 to one million successful arrests and surrenders. So the figure she presents to you is not even one percent. And surely with the sheer number of those involved in the illicit drug trade, some police operations see suspects resisting arrest and fighting back and the police having to defend themselves resulting in casualties. Every war has casualties. It is not a perfect war and I’m certain there have been abuses along the way, and these need to be looked into and those responsible must be brought to justice. But exaggerating things does not help at all.
In asking for the international community, the UN, to intervene, she uses the issue of human rights. Let us then talk about human rights.
In responding to the call of Robredo, the international community must tread carefully lest it encroaches on our very sovereignty and our right to self-determination. And as a sovereign state, we have determined to wage an internal war (not a war against another nation) against the evils of drugs, a direction affirmed by our democratic processes when President Duterte who included the War on Drugs as one of his main programs of action, received an overwhelming mandate during the May 2016 Presidential Election. In short, the War on Drugs, by extension, has the people’s mandate.
Any effort to disturb our democracy and sovereignty as a response to the Vice President’s irresponsible and unfounded claims will subvert the will of the Filipino people and violate our Human Right of Suffrage enshrined in both the Philippine Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 21 of the international covenant).
Once again, I am making this appeal to all member states of the United Nations and all organizations within the UN System to disregard the Philippine Vice President’s statement which is, I reiterate, a grave misrepresentation of the prevailing sentiments of our people and a gross perversion of the facts surrounding the War on Drugs.
To my fellow Filipinos, let us remain vigilant in the face of threats to our democracy by the very people who claim to defend it. Ako po’y nanawagan na i-share ang video na ito upang ito ay umabot sa UN at sa iba’t ibang foreign governments.
Maraming salamat. Thank you and good evening.