By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte had ordered all agencies to reject loans and grants from 41 countries that backed a probe of his deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands, his spokesman said yesterday after denying such memo existed.
Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo confirmed at a briefing in Malacañang that the president issued the memo on Aug. 27, even as he said this won’t affect the Philippine economy.
“There are other bilateral partners, institutions and countries outside of the 18 countries offering the same and better rates,” said Mr. Panelo, who last week denied Mr. Duterte had issued such order.
Members of the voted 18 in favor and 14 against on the resolution submitted by Iceland and 27 other European countries.
The United Nations Human Rights Council on July 11 ordered its human rights office to present a comprehensive report as it expressed concerns about human rights violations in the Philippines in connection with Mr. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
The body adopted a resolution that Iceland proposed and 17 other nations voted for. Twenty-four other nations who co-sponsored the resolution did not vote.
The Iceland-sponsored resolution drew the ire of Mr. Duterte, who writhes at Western condemnation of his drive that is widely supported by Filipinos.
Philippine police have said they have killed more than 6,000 people in illegal drug raids, many of them resisting arrest. Some local nongovernmental organizations and the national Commission on Human Rights have placed the death toll at more than 27,000.
The council urged the government to cooperate with UN offices by allowing visits by its officials and by “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation.”
The resolution also called on the Philippines “take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold perpetrators accountable.”
The government has dismissed the council order, saying states who supported it had been misinformed about the Philippine situation.
Mr. Panelo reiterated the president’s earlier criticism of Iceland’s abortion policy. “He said he cannot comprehend why Iceland is so concerned about the alleged brutal slaying of suspected criminals when it has a law that allows killing, murdering unborn children, unborn babies aged six months and below.”
The spokesman also said Mr. Duterte thought Iceland was trying to impose its culture on the Philippines.
Reading out a response from Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Mr. Panelo said: “Out of the 18 countries involved, only the United Kingdom has an offer of 21 million euros loan with respect to the Build, Build, Build project of the president.”
He later corrected himself by tracing the loan to France, which wasn’t part of the 18 but was a co-sponsor.
Existing loans deals won’t be affected by the Duterte memo, he added.
Countries that voted for the resolution aside from Iceland were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
The co-sponsors that did not vote were Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia and Sweden.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address in July, Mr. Duterte said drug traffickers must be put to death, noting that the illegal drug menace persists despite his deadly war on drugs.
Majority of Filipinos remained satisfied with Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs despite worldwide criticism, according to the Social Weather Stations’ June poll.
The polling firm found that 82% of Filipinos were satisfied with the government’s illegal drug campaign, while only 12% were dissatisfied, resulting in an “excellent” +70 net satisfaction rating.