Duterte’s decision to reject financial aid was a political statement – Panelo

Published September 24, 2019, 4:17 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Genalyn Kabiling 

Foreign countries should “not mess” with the Philippines following a decision to reject financial aid from those supportive of a United Nations inquiry on anti-drug campaign, Malacañang declared Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo (PCOO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that President Duterte’s decision authorizing the loan suspension was a “political statement” against foreign interference in the country’s sovereignty.

“It is a political statement. You don’t mess with this country with that kind of resolution,” he said during a Palace press briefing.

“The Presidente has been consistent with his saying that ‘As far as I’m concerned, this is an insult to us.’ They assume that we’re not doing anything about their complaints. We’ve been doing that,” he said.

Panelo, however, expressed optimism that the country’s relations with the nations that backed the UN probe would not be adversely affected despite the memorandum on the loan suspension.

He said foreign relations were “not confined” only with loans and other financial assistance, citing that there are other aspects of the country’s bilateral ties with nations.

“Wala, walang epekto. Kasi iyon namang relasyon natin bilang… is not confined with loans di ba. Pareho rin iyon noong ating away with China, hindi lang naman doon sa conflict natin, marami pang areas na puwede nating pag-usapan [There is no effect. Our relations are not confined with the loans. Like our conflict with China, it’s not only about the conflict. There are others areas of discussion],” Panelo said.

“Maraming areas — in relationship between two countries, marami iyang kino-consider, hindi lamang isang aspect. So, kung nagkaproblema kayo sa isang issue it doesn’t mean lahat ng issue magkakaproblema kayo [In a relationship between two countries, there are many areas that can be considered. It’s not just one aspect. If we have a problem on one issue, it doesn’t mean we will have problem with all issues too],” he added.

The government earlier directed agencies to suspend negotiations for and signing of loan and grant agreements with countries that co-sponsored and voted in favor of a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution seeking a report on the country’s war on drugs. The memorandum was issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea “pending the assessment of our relations with these countries.”

Last July, 18 members of the UNHRC voted in favor and 14 against the resolution seeking Fifteen other nations abstained from the voting. The Philippine government later denounced the Iceland-initiated resolution on the drug war as devoid of factual basis and an affront to the country’s sovereignty.

So far, Panelo said he has not seen any “adverse effect” on the country’s ties with the concerned UN resolution backers since the Palace issued the memorandum. He said the concerned nations have not made any reaction or movement to the President’s action, adding only government critics were reacting to the issue.

“Kung walang reaction sa kanila, ang tingin ko doon they are not even offended by the move of the President [If there is no reaction coming from them, I think they are not even offended by the move of the President],” he said.

He maintained that the President considers UN resolution an insult to the country since it assumes that the government has been remiss on probing complaints about alleged rights violations in the campaign against illegal drugs.

The Palace earlier said the government investigates deaths of drug suspects in police operations and holds accountable policemen who violate the law.

Also, he said the President has deplored Iceland’s “hypocrisy” to denounce the alleged drug-related killings in the country when it allows the killing of unborn babies.

“Iceland as well as those who supported it, must realize the fact that they are supporting a resolution coming from a country questioning the kind of governance of this country relative to the war on the drugs and yet this country/sponsor is allowing murders, killings of unborn children,” he said.