Arroyo Addresses UN Today; Seeks General Assembly Support for Non-Permanent Seat in Security Council

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Byline: FERDIE J. MAGLALANG

NEW YORK CITY (Via PLDT) - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will address today the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly where she will make a strong pitch for the Philippines' bid for a non-permanent seat in the 15-member UN Security Council.

The President, addressing the General Assembly for the second time since she assumed office in January, 2001, will ask the 191 member-countries of the 58-yearold UN to grant the country a nonpermanent seat in its powerful Security Council which operates on a 24-hour basis monitoring and deliberating on global issues ranging from security to poverty, civil war, free trade, and the spread of Acquired Immune Disease Syndrome (AIDS), malaria, and other diseases.

Philippine Ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja said the President's address will give the needed boost to the country's bid for a Council seat.

"It is a seat which would elevate our status in the international community. Our track record in the UN has been recognized and acknowledged in various committees. We are confident we will get the seat," he said.

"It is a 24-hour job because peace and security issues have no time-zone. It is difficult but a prestigious membership," he added.

The formal election is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 10.

The country first assumed a non-permanent seat in the Council in the 1960s. The second time was in the 1980s during the Marcos administration.

Ten countries with non-permanent seats in the Council will join its five permanent veto-wielding members, namely, the United States, China, France, United Kingdom, and Russia.

This is the second time that the President will address the UN. The first was in November, 2001, when she has outlined the country's policy in fighting international terrorism, triggered by the terrorist bombing attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and on the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on Sept. 11, 2001.

When the US asked for support to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction allegedly kept by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the President expressed its support on the condition that the country's participation shall be within the framework of the UN.

Mrs. Arroyo has been a strong ally of the US in fighting regional terrorism, joining Malaysia and Indonesia in a trilateral agreement on intelligence-gathering and border-patrolling against the illegal entry of terrorists in the Southeast Asian region.

Full schedule

NEW YORK CITY (Via PLDT) - President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived here today (Sept. 25 in the evening in Manila), looking forward to a full schedule of meetings and personal appearances with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, and officials of the United States Institute of Peace.

Shortly after her arrival at the Newark International Airport, New Jersey, at 5:35 a.m., the President, along with her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, and members of her official delegation, proceeded to the UN headquarters here to meet with Annan.

It will be followed by a closed-door meeting with Mahathir which had earlier volunteered to host the long-hoped-for peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the biggest Muslim insurgent group in the country today.

The President will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja, Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo, Senate foreign relations committee Chairman Manuel Villar, Senate assistant minority leader Aquilino Pimentel, Reps. Bacani, Abraham Khalili Mitra, Antonio Nachura, Prospero Nograles, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita, who was recently appointed as defense secretary.

Mrs. Arroyo will also meet with officials of the US Institute of Peace which has been tasked by US President George W. …