In an Aug. 27 memorandum, Duterte ordered all concerned agencies and government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) to “suspend the negotiations for and the signing of all loan and grant agreements” with the countries that “co-sponsored and/or voted” in favor of the July 4 resolution put forward by Iceland.
AFP, file
Here's a possible consequence of Philippines' suspension of aid from backers of UN drug war probe
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - September 23, 2019 - 1:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — Suspending all loan and grant talks from countries that supported the United Nations resolution to investigate the Philippines' war on drugs only isolates the country more, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan, president of opposition Liberal Party, noted that the countries that voted in favor of the Iceland-led UN resolution are "not small."

"These aren't small countries — Australia, UK, Italy, Spain — and then they said this is around P20 billion-plus so that is a big loss," Pangilinan told CNN Philippines' "The Source" Monday.

The 18 countries that backed the UN resolution to review human rights violations in the conduct of the drug war were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

The senator noted that the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte will also affect direct investments from these countries.

"We're actually isolating ourselves more," Pangilinan said.

The UN Human Right Council, special rapporteurs and commissioners of the UN have already expressed concern over the human rights situation in the country, the senator added.

United States Sen. Marco Rubio recently called on the Philippine government to release detained Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of the president.

De Lima has been in jail since February 2018 for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilbid Prison during her term as DOJ secretary.

"More and more, there is now a growing sense in the international community to look into what's going on in the country," Pangilinan said.

'That's old stuff'

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., meanwhile, said the memo was a "good idea."

"We don’t need the money; we’ve more than enough without turning to anyone outside except Japan of course whose generosity is unconditional, quick; and whose motivation is honestly to help the Philippines," Locsin tweeted Friday.

The Philippines' top diplomat tweeted again last Saturday, claiming the Department of Finance had stopped receiving grants from European countries even before Iceland filed the resolution before the UNHRC.

RELATED: EU envoy confirms Philippines' rejection of P382-M aid

"That's old stuff actually; long before the failed Iceland resolution. DOF didn't like them; not worth the candle considering the amounts and the terms and the money goes mostly to consultants," the DFA chief said.

Contrary to Pangilinan's theory, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said suspending foreign and loan grants from the 18 countries would not have significant impact on the Philippines.

"First, it will not affect existing grants and loans, if any, already being implemented," Dominguez earlier said.

Dominguez said the Philippines currently has existing grants from Australia ($228.89 million), Germany ($151.31 million), France ($6.72 million), Italy ($4.71 million) and Spain ($570,000). France and Germany were not among the 18 countries that voted in favor of the resolution but they sponsored it.

"All proposed engagements with said countries except for one small project loan in the amount of 21 million euros are technical assistance grants and hence will not significantly affect the infrastructure program of the government," the DOF chief said.

Palace flip flops yet again

A memorandum dated August 27, which Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed "by order of the president," directed all government agencies to cut off all official development aid talks that voted in favor of the UN resolution.

"All concerned officials are DIRECTED to suspend negotiations for and signing of all loan and grant agreements with the governments of the countries that co-sponsored and/or voted in favour of the aforesaid resolution," the memo read.

This was supposedly issued "in light of the administrations' strong rejection of the resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council."

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said this directive was not true.

"The president has not issued any memorandum suspending loans and negotiations involving 18 countries that voted in favour of the Iceland resolution," Panelo said in a statement over the weekend.

Malacañang changed its position by Monday, claiming that the president has forgotten about the memo. According to Panelo, Duterte only remembered that he had issued such memo after being shown a copy of it.

FRANCIS PANGILINAN HUMAN RIGHTS UNITED NATIONS UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL WAR ON DRUGS
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