‘Duterte seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland’ | Malaya Business Insight

Montemayor, J. (2019, July 17). ‘Duterte seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland’. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved July 17, 2019 from https://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/%E2%80%98duterte-seriously-considering-cutting-ties-iceland%E2%80%99

‘Duterte seriously considering cutting ties with Iceland’

PRESIDENT Duterte is “seriously considering” cutting the Philippines’ diplomatic relations with Iceland, whose resolution calling for a probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines was adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council last week, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the President told him this while wondering why Iceland was pushing for an investigation into the human rights situation in the country, particularly on alleged extrajudicial killings being linked to Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

He said some local or foreign activists may have fed Iceland with wrong information about the war on drugs.

“He is seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland. The adopted Iceland resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan. It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country. It is bereft of the gruesome realities of the drug menace in the country,” Panelo said.

He added that the resolution, which was based on false information and unverified figures, was intended to embarrass the Philippines before the international community.

Panelo also said the President’s stand does not contradict that of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who said the Philippines is not severing its diplomatic ties with Iceland.

He also said that regardless of the statement of Locsin or any Cabinet member, in the end it is the President’s stand that matters.

“Members of the Cabinet’s words can never be final. They are all subject to change without prior notice by the Chief Architect and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. In other words, he is the President, we are just alter egos… we are therefore entitled to express our opinion based on what we thought to be consistent with the policy of the President. But if the President says ‘this is the policy,’ then we have to toe the line,” Panelo said.

Panelo also said that if the Philippines would cut diplomatic ties with Iceland, there would be a minimal impact as there are “no trade relations” between the Philippines and Iceland even if there are about 2,000 Filipinos there.

He also said that he does not expect agreements in geothermal, mining, and maritime sectors between the two countries to be affected.

Panelo reiterated the resolution is not binding, but the Philippines needs to react to the issue as the resolution was a clear an intrusion on the part of Iceland.

Asked if the Philippines is also considering leaving the UNHRC or severing ties with other countries that supported the resolution, Panelo said the President has not said anything about it but “he may be studying it.”

Locsin said the country will not sever ties with Iceland or any other nation that supported the resolution.

Locsin said the UNHRC resolution was a “small and harmless” matter.

“We’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners. We’re not severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where’s the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?” Locsin said on Twitter.

“We need to stay to educate the races that don’t shower daily. I never considered for a second cutting ties over this small matter. We will stay in the UNHRC out of duty to teach those whose awful history cries out for moral instruction how to avoid hypocrisy that is the tribute vice pays to the virtue they so sorely lacked,” he added.

Locsin earlier said hinted Manila might withdraw from the UNHRC.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III would no longer push for cutting ties with the UNHRC.

“If he (Locsin) says we stay, we stay!” Sotto posted on Twitter yesterday. “Absolutely!” – With Ashzel Hachero and Vince Nonato

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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