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Speech of Ambassador Jesus S.

2017 Hiroshima and Nagasaki 72nd Commemoration
Wellington Botanic Garden, Peace Flame Garden
Sunday, 6 August 2017, 10am - 11:30am

Magandang Umaga Sa Inyong Lahat ! Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou, Tena Tatou
Kotoa !
It is my great honour again to speak to you all, my second time since
assuming as Ambassador of the Philippines to Aotearoa New Zealand. I
would like to thank Richard Tingey of the New Zealand Campaign For
Nuclear Disarmament, the Wellington City Council and the New Zealand
Peace Community for this kind invitation. We take this opportunity to
remember the victims of the first nuclear weapons fired in anger 72 years
ago, the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki –wish that that their souls are
at peace – and pray that they are both the first and the last humans to meet
that fate.
For much of my career as a Filipino diplomat, I was engaged in Disarmament
Diplomacy, including being on the team for the Philippine Chairmanship of
the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. I had the
privilege of working closely with Kiwi Disarmament Ambassador Dell Higgie
in Geneva in the Commission on Disarmament, she very much a rock star in
the Disarmament Diplomacy world. My work also gave me the opportunity
to visit Hiroshima in 2014, and had the chance to hear for myself moving,
eyewitness accounts of the bombing from a Hibakusha Survivor.
New Zealand with its bold Independent Foreign Policy, has quite been in the
forefront of Nuclear Disarmament, taking the brave decision to remove itself
from the ANZUS Nuclear Umbrella, and with many inspiring Disarmament
Leaders such as Richard and Dell, among many others both in government
and civil society. One of the first things that greeted me after landing was
the prominent and wonderful sign declaring that Wellington is Nuclear Free.
We too in the Philippines had taken a stance of freedom from nuclear
weapons – this is enshrined in our constitution. Our President, His
Excellency Rodrigo Duterte, is a passionate disarmament advocate. He has
charted for us a path of an Independent Foreign Policy like New Zealand,
and was most impressed and inspired to hear more about Aotearoa’s
disarmament advocacy when he visited Auckland last year from Foreign
Minister emeritus the Hon. Murray McCully.
This year, the Philippines has the honour of serving as Chairman of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In ASEAN, we proudly
uphold the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapons Free Zone or SEANWFZ. As I
am also Philippine Ambassador to the countries of Pasifika, I am privileged
to closely engage with the Treaty of Rarotonga states, forming the South
Pacific Nuclear Free Zone. I led the Philippine Delegation to the Ninth
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Non-
proliferation and Disarmament (NPD) held last March in Auckland, co-
chaired by NZ, Canada and Malaysia.
Dark clouds loom over the Asia-Pacific region. As we all know there is the
distinct possibility of the use of nuclear weapons, by a state which now lies
outside the basic norms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Let us urge
this state to set aside its development and threats of use of nuclear
weapons, and also call on the neighbors of this state to seriously engage
this state. The Situation in the Korean Peninsula preoccupies our Foreign
Ministers currently attending the ASEAN Meetings in Manila. Let us pray for
a breakthrough.
But let me conclude with a positive note. Last month, the Philippines joined
New Zealand and 120 other states in signing the landmark Treaty on the
Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – which takes us even closer to the
realization of our dream of a Global Zero, a world free of nuclear weapons.
As much as it is a victory, the struggle for the treaty’s finalization,
universalization and implementation lie ahead. We, governments, NGOs,
and citizenry must lock arms and continue this noble fight.
One of the programs of my Embassy is Universal Diplomacy – which holds
that every person is a potential Citizen Volunteer Diplomat, and that you,
the Universal Diplomat, may pursue causes such as Nuclear Disarmament
with the Embassy and our network of NGO, University, and College partners,
including the UN Association of New Zealand and UN Youth of New Zealand.
The Embassy is also brokering Sister City partnerships between NZ and
Philippine Cities, through our Diplomatic Chamber programme, and nuclear
disarmament is an important feature of such relationships. I look forward
to discussing possible Universal Diplomacy partnerships with you here
gathered today.
Maraming Salamat Po ! Whakawhetai Koe !