THE Defense department wants to be exempted from President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order to reject loans and grants from 41 countries that had backed a probe of his deadly war on drugs that has killed thousands.
The aid ban could affect some loan agreements for the military’s modernization program, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana told a briefing in Pasig City near the capital yesterday.
Mr. Lorenzana said the Philippine military is now in talks with Australia — one of those that voted to have the Duterte government investigated for alleged human rights violations — for the construction of six offshore vessels.
The aid ban won’t cause a problem if the military were to buy the equipment using “our money,” the Defense chief said.
“We will wait for the recommendation of the Secretary of the National Defense,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said at a separate briefing. “I’m certain the president will evaluate it.”
The Palace has said existing loan deal won’t be affected by the president’s Aug. 27 memo.
Mr. Lorenzana last month said the Philippine Navy would avail itself of the Australian government’s financing for offshore patrol vessels as part of the nation’s military modernization program.
The ships will be ordered through a government-to-government deal because the Philippines wants to avail itself of financing from Australia, he said.
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.”
Countries that voted for the resolution aside from Iceland and Australia were Argentina, 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. — Arjay L. Balinbin