VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte wrong in saying PH did not get anything from UN

Twitter user @JojoMalig asked VERA Files Fact Check to look into President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that the Philippines gets nothing from the United Nations.

We checked. The president’s claim is false.


In a speech Oct. 13 in Dumaguete City, Duterte said:

“Ano bang nakukuha natin sa United Nations? Wala. Mag-sige pa tayong contribute diyan sa mga buang na yan. Kaganda ng mga opisina. Anong nakuha natin diyan (What do we get from the United Nations? Nothing. We keep contributing to those loons. They have beautiful offices. And what did we get)?”

Source: Speech of President Rodrigo Duterte during the Buglasan Festival 2017 Opening Ceremony, Oct. 13, 2017, Dumaguete City, watch from 21:34-21:45


Official Development Assistance (ODA) from UN agencies amounted to $490.48 million, making up 3.14 percent of the Philippines’ total ODA portfolio in 2016.

ODA, a standard measure of foreign aid, covers resource flows provided by donor governments through official agencies to help spur economic development in recipient countries. it includes both grants and concessional loans with more favorable terms, such as lower interest rates and longer grace periods, than market loans.

Development assistance from Japan comprised the largest share in the Philippines’ 2016 portfolio at $5.62 billion; followed by the World Bank, $3.12 billion; Asian Development Bank, $2.98 billion; the U.S., $1.34 billion; Australia, $823.78 million; South Korea, $601.09 million; and the UN System.

In terms of utilization level, the portion of ODA disbursed, by the end of 2016, UN System-funded projects ranked third at $233.49 million, after the U.S. at $913.44 million and Australia at $437.61 million.

Also by then, 30 UN System projects had been completed, four ahead of schedule, 59 on schedule and 22 behind schedule.

From 2012 to 2016, the UN System according to its website provided a total $2.07 billion to the Philippines.

Financial aid is not the only form of support the UN provides.

“The forgotten fact is the UN is not only a venue for multilateral diplomacy,” said former Philippine Ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja.

“The UN is a very fertile ground for bilateral diplomacy where the Philippines can conduct and negotiate its concerns with the other 192 countries in the world,” he said.

Maintaining bilateral relations becomes handy when the Philippine government wants to advocate certain matters or has candidatures in international posts.

The UN System is composed of the following agencies, which perform specialized functions in various development fields:

  • Food and Agriculture Organization
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • International Labour Organization
  • International Organization for Migration
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • United Nations Children’s Fund
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • United Nations Population Fund
  • United Nations Environment Programme
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
  • United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
  • Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
  • World Food Programme
  • World Health Organization

These agencies are “where the tangible benefits come from,” Baja said.


National Economic and Development Authority, 2016 Official Development Assistance Portfolio Review

NEDA, Official Development Assistance Act of 1996

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Official development assistance – definition and coverage

United Nations Philippines, The United Nations Country Team

Interview with former Philippine Ambassador to the UN Lauro Baja

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)