PH vote on Gaza probe made without consulting home gov't — Duterte

Published June 16, 2021, 6:48 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The Philippines is apparently reconsidering its vote in favor of the United Nations-led investigation into the alleged war crimes committed during the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

President Rodrigo Duterte asks about the “ruckus” arising from the country’s vote in favor of a UN-led inquiry on Gaza violence during a huddle with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Senator Christopher Go, and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje in Malacañang on June 16, 2021 (Screenshot from RTVM live feed/Facebook)

President Duterte has bared that the country’s representative in the UN body cast such ballot without consulting his government and suggested a possible withdrawal of such vote.

Last month, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution to investigate the alleged war crimes during the 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Philippines was among the 24 states that backed the formation of an investigative committee to look into the Gaza violence that left more than 200 people dead.

In his remarks Wednesday, June 16, the President sought to clarify the “ruckus” over the country’s vote with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea just before he headed to a farewell call by the outgoing Israeli ambassador to the Philippines in Malacañang.

“Ayusin muna natin ito. Ano ba ‘yung boto natin sa UN na pina-withdraw ni…? ‘Yung sa Israel (Let’s fix this first. What was our vote at the UN that wanted to be withdrawn by.. About Israel?)” Duterte told Medialdea who approached the President’s podium.

“Sabi ko na i-withdraw. Sabi ni…Sino ba may alam diyan? (I said withdraw it. Who knows about this?)” Duterte added.

The President was about the wrap up his remarks at the ceremonial signing of new laws at the Palace when he mentioned the country’s UN vote. With his microphone still turned on, he called for Medialdea from the government officials present at the Rizal Hall.

Medialdea admitted to the President about the country’s tight spot over the UNHRC vote, and pointed to Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje who can explain further.

When Borje came forward, Duterte appeared dismayed and revealed the lack of consultation over the country’s vote.

“What was that ruckus about? No, our representative voted without consulting the home government,” Duterte asked Borje.

Borje could be seen explaining the matter to the President on the live video feed aired by Radio Television Malacañang on social media. Duterte’s microphone however has already been turned off at this point.

The President’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Go joined the huddle with the President, Medialdea and Borje. Moments later, the live feed of the Palace event was cut.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who also attended the event, has yet to provide details of the President’s final decision on the matter.

Shortly after the Philippines backed the UN probe on the Gaza violence, Israel summoned the Filipino ambassador over the country’s vote favoring the rights probe. Israel claimed that such vote was unacceptable and constituted a reward for terrorism.