“That’s because we don’t want to borrow money from those whose defense of the drug trade and attacks on anti-drug trade campaigns make us mighty suspicious about where the money’s coming from,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted.
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Locsin defends rejection of anti-drug war nations’ loans
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - September 23, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday said the Philippines refuses to take money from countries that support a United Nations resolution to monitor the government’s drug war after Malacañang earlier ordered a suspension of negotiations for loans and grants from these countries.

“That’s because we don’t want to borrow money from those whose defense of the drug trade and attacks on anti-drug trade campaigns make us mighty suspicious about where the money’s coming from,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. tweeted.

A “confidential” memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea last August said Malacañang has ordered all departments and other government agencies to suspend negotiations for loans and grants from countries that voted in favor of a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution.

A copy of the memo, which also said an assessment of the country’s relationship with these countries was underway, was posted on the Bureau of Customs website as an attachment to Customs Memorandum Circular 211-2019, dated Sept. 11.

The 18 countries that voted in favor of the resolution initiated by Iceland are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Uruguay.

Vice President Leni Robredo expressed dismay over the move yesterday and said many impoverished Filipinos will suffer with the Palace’s action.

“It’s unfortunate because these could fund additional programs for the poor,” the Vice President said in her Sunday program, BISErbisyong Leni over dzXL.

Robredo likened Malacañang’s order to its withdrawal from the second cycle of the US Millennium Challenge Corp. grants in 2017.

“There were many projects in the pipeline which were no longer funded… the supposed beneficiaries of these programs were the ones who suffered,” she said.

Locsin, however, downplayed the criticisms on the move, especially from lawmakers who said the administration was “inordinately ill-advised” in its rejection of the grants and loans.

“Not ill-advised. Well before Iceland vote there was deep widespread bureaucratic contempt for grants/loans too much trouble to negotiate, get, and most of which went to foreign consultants of foreign donor/lender countries. Had no respect from DOF old hands,” he said.

The DFA secretary said the same countries that voted for the Iceland resolution never gave or lent the Philippines anything worthwhile or offered loan with conditions more onerous than what the country would have to pay back.

“Yes, we pick and choose; to take indiscriminately is actually criminal. For example, we can never take from narco-states like the most notorious one which voted for the Iceland resolution and had the entire Geneva laughing. Really,” he added.

The Philippines, he said, takes Official Development Assistance from Japan (abstained from UN vote), which gives without conditions.

On Sept. 9, Locsin discarded the Iceland-initiated resolution as “nothing” and that the move has been “forgiven.”

“The Iceland Resolution is forgiven; it was nothing anyway. As I always say, the French always do it better—love and war and anything in between. I’m gonna kiss the hull of that boat,” the country’s top diplomat said.

The resolution also appealed to the authorities to investigate the deaths and to hold perpetrators accountable.

The text called on the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights by facilitating country visits and “refraining from all acts of intimidation or retaliation” against rights experts.

But presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo on Saturday said there was no order from Duterte to shun financial assistance from the 18 nations.

“The President has not issued any memorandum suspending loans and negotiations involving 18 countries that voted in favor of the Iceland resolution,” he said. – Pia Lee-Brago

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DRUG WAR
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