Statement of Rep. Harry L. Roque on President Duterte’s threat to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from the United Nations

President Rodrigo Duterte (photo from ABS-CBN News)

The threat of President Duterte to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from the United Nations (UN) is impulsive, imprudent, and contrary to the interests of the nation.

The UN is an organization that embodies fundamental principles of international peace and cooperation. The Philippines has relied on the UN and its Charter in its defense against China’s threats of force and attempts at unlawful interventions. It is an understatement to say that the Philippines needs the UN today more than it ever has.  Aside from the fact that no State has ever successfully withdrawn from the UN, or had any legitimate reason to do so, repudiating ties with the United Nations will only weaken the Philippine position on foreign affairs.

The Philippines has worked very hard over the past few weeks to gather international support for the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration over the West Philippine Sea. Withdrawing from the UN or threatening to do so only strengthens China’s rhetoric that the UN and its subsidiary institutions are illegitimate.

Moreover, membership in the UN provides significant protection to the Philippines against in its international disputes. Chapter 6 of the UN Charter allows members to bring any dispute to the attention of the Security Council or the General Assembly. In light of the increasing tensions with China, we would be losing means of peacefully settling our disputes by revoking our membership.

Finally, one cannot discount the symbolic and diplomatic significance of UN membership. Whereas many nations all over the world are struggling to be recognized as independent States, the Philippines is fortunate to have the recognition of the international community. To turn away from such the community over a series of internal affairs would be truly regrettable.  Withdrawal from the UN is not something that should be taken lightly for it could bring about disastrous consequences for the country. Moving forward, the President should be more circumspect in making statements that could potentially have adverse effects on our foreign diplomatic relations and territorial integrity.

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