Tue. Aug 3rd, 2021

MANILA – Malacañang has ordered the lifting of the suspension of loan negotiations and grant agreements with the 18 countries that voted in favor of an Iceland-sponsored United Nations Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation into human rights violations linked to the administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.

“Please be informed that such directive is hereby lifted, effective immediately,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in a memorandum order he signed on February 27 by order of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Medialdea, however, reminded all department secretaries and heads of agencies as well as government-owned and controlled corporations and government financial institutions that all necessary approvals and authorities “should be first obtained” prior to actual negotiations of any agreement with foreign governments and instrumentalities.

On July 11, 2019, the UNHRC adopted the Iceland-sponsored resolution urging UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to write a comprehensive report on the situation in the Philippines and present it to the council.

The resolution also “urges the government of the Philippines to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards including those on due process and the rule of law.”

The 18 countries in the 47-member UNHRC that voted in support of the drug war probe were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

Fourteen other nations, including the Philippines and China, voted against while the remaining 15 abstained.

Iceland’s resolution prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to “seriously consider” cutting ties with the Nordic country.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte suspended the loans negotiations with the 18 countries because he felt “insulted” by the resolution which called for a probe into the drug war.

Duterte had previously said he will not face the international tribunal, stressing he would only answer to the Philippine courts.

As former prosecutor, Duterte said the international court could only prosecute him if there is a “total breakdown of justice in the country” and if Philippine courts are not willing to prosecute him.

He said the court had no idea about the “real situation” going on in the Philippines and that he is willing to lecture them on the finer points of international law.

Panelo earlier called any form of UN investigation as interference to Philippine sovereignty.

He rejected critics’ claims saying Duterte’s decision to shun financial assistance is “ill-advised” noting that he would never put the nation’s dignity over monetary aid. (PNA)

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