Duterte's officials: Philippines not leaving UN

(Philstar.com) - August 22, 2016 - 1:45pm

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED 6:04 p.m.) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Monday said that the Philippines will not leave the United Nations despite President Rodrigo Duterte's recent remarks.

"We are committed to the UN despite our numerous frustrations with this international agency," Yasay said in a press conference.

Yasay clarified that the president never threatened to withdraw membership to the UN and that he was only expressing his disappointment over the comments of the UN's special rapporteurs.

"The president was tired, disappointed, hungry when he made the statement. We must give him leeway. He is also human," Yasay said.

READ: Can Duterte withdraw Philippine membership to UN?

In a press conference early Sunday, Duterte lambasted statements made by UN special rapporteurs in connection with the government's war on drugs.

The president said that the UN rapporteurs broke protocol when they came out with statements criticizing his administration.

"The UN could not end wars and maintain peace among its members, had not done any good for the Philippines... So take us out of your organization. You have done nothing," Duterte said.

The United Nations, through its agencies like the World Health Organization and UNICEF,  has programs in the Philippines. It also helped in the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga siege in 2013.

Palace's reading

Palace officials similarly downplayed the president's remarks, with presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella saying Duterte was only stressing jurisdiction in internal affairs.

"Well, basically, he was really just reiterating the fact that—he was reiterating national sovereignty and the fact that he did not welcome interventions or what he would consider meddling," Abella said.

"But you know the entire process of decoupling is not… is not to be taken lightly. But he was basically stating the fact that the Philippines is a sovereign nation and should not be meddled with," he said.

The Palace's interpretation to the president's statement came a day after Duterte, at a televised news conference, ridiculed the UN as "inutile" and hit the United States for their inability to stop killings caused by the conflicts in Syria and other countries in the Middle East.

"The UN could not end wars and maintain peace among its members, had not done any good for the Philippines," Duterte said.

"So take us out of your organization. You have done nothing. Where were you here the last time? Never. Except to criticize. When you have done a good deed to my country?" he asked.

Duterte's statement caught international attention, following his ‘gay' remarks against US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and attacks against the US. 

Earlier in the day, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Philippines can pull out its support to the UN but not withdraw membership under the UN charter.  He cited the experience of Indonesia and Syria, which attempted to leave the UN but were not successful.

Andanar also said the president was merely referring to the UN rapporteurs, with whom he expressed disappointment.

"The president was appalled by the comment of the UN rapporteur... Bakit 'di gawin ng UN rapporteur depensahan niya rin ang gobyerno, ang ginagawa ng gobyerno na programa against all of these illegal or these criminals who have been victimizing our citizens," Andanar said in an interview with ANC's "Headstart" on Monday morning. — Video by Efigenio Toledo IV

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