For the sake of national security, Duterte might reconsider order on shunned loans, grants

Published September 24, 2019, 3:29 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is willing to evaluate the proposal of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to exempt his department from the suspension of loans from countries that supported a United Nations probe on the drug war, Malacañang said Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the oath-taking ceremony of the officers of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines at the Malacañan Palace on September 10, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

The President might make some consideration if the matter involves national security, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

“The President is a very reasonable man. If it involves national security, he might, he might. I do not know yet. We have to wait for his thoughts on the matter,” Panelo said during the Palace press briefing Tuesday.

“Let us wait for him to evaluate whatever recommendation the Secretary of National Defense will provide him,” he added.

Lorenzana earlier expressed concern that the military’s modernization program might be adversely affected by the latest Palace order on loan suspension from certain countries. The defense chief said he might ask for exemption for the Department of National Defense, citing plans to acquire military vessels from Australia.

Read more: DND may seek exemption from order to shun loans, grants from countries that backed UN resolution

Government agencies have recently been directed to reject new loans and grants from countries that co-sponsored and voted in favor of Iceland-led resolution seeking a probe on the drug-related killings and other rights abuses in the Philippines. The memorandum, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea last August 27, was issued in light of the government’s “strong rejection” of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution.

The Palace recently said the loan suspension would have not dramatically impact the country’s economy, adding that government could acquire financial aid from other countries instead.

On Tuesday  Panelo said the President’s decision on the suspension the loans from the Iceland group was a “political statement” after it assumed the government was not doing anything about the alleged abuses in the drug war.

“The President felt that Iceland resolution was an insult and an affront to this country so he directed the issuance of such memorandum,” he said.

“He’s the President. That’s his discretion,” he added.

Read more: PH suspends deals with 18 countries supportive of UN resolution on drug war