By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the Philippines can consider pulling out from the United Nations (UN) following its body’s adoption of a resolution that would probe the country’s human rights situation.
Sotto floated the idea on Monday as he believed that there would be no effect to the Philippines should it withdraw its membership from the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as raised by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
“Wala (None). As a matter of fact, baka gusto niya buuuin pati United Nations na mismo, eh (he might want to withdraw totally from the United Nations),” Sotto said.
The Senate chief said the move will save the Philippines millions of funds in contribution to the UN’s annual budget.
“Last year, we paid the UN $8.2 million [as] mandatory contribution. We will be saving the country P445 million a year if we detach ourselves from the UN,” he claimed.
Based on the Assessment of Member States’ Contribution to the United Nations’ regular budget for year 2019 obtained from its website, the Philippines would pay $5,717,863 to the UN for its operational expenses.
This makes up 0.205 percent of the UN fund for this year.
Sotto said dismembering from the UN will “not at all” put the Philippines in a bad light before the international community. Instead, he said “it might give them a chance to review [their rules] and take a hard look at the mirror.”
He was referring to the UNHRC’s “illogical” rules in approving resolutions from its member-states.
The long-time lawmaker had questioned the adoption of the Iceland-initiated resolution seeking a comprehensive report on the Philippine’s drug war following a vote of 18 for, 14 against, and 15 abstention.
“[They’re] Not even getting the majority of the members present in the quorum, and then saying it is a UNHRC resolution. They should review their rules. Because the rules that they are following are illogical,” Sotto said.
“If there is a quorum of 50, and one agreed, 49 abstained, is the resolution carried? Based on their rules, it is. So it’s (the rule) illogical,” he said.
For the Senate chief, the abstention of 15 countries was also equal to a “No” vote. “Everyone in parliament knows that,” he claimed.
Sotto earlier said he would let Locsin decide on whether or not the Philippines should remain a part of the UNHRC.
But later, he said he would not be surprised if Locsin would follow the United States’ in withdrawing from the UN body. He recalled the US describing the UNHRC as a “hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights” when it pulled out in 2018.
“I would be supportive of the decision that Sec. Locsin will arrive at,” Sotto said.
The Philippines had been a member of the UN since 1945, being one of the first 50 signatories of the UN Charter.
The country was elected to the UNHRC in October, 2018, and would serve as a member until 2021.