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‘Suspension of loan, grant deals won’t have much impact’

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
âSuspension of loan, grant deals wonât have much impactâ
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo added that except for three financial offers from France, Germany and Spain, all proposed deals with countries that either co-sponsored or voted in favor of the resolution are technical assistance grants and would not significantly affect the government’s infrastructure program.
Michael Varcas / File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte’s order to suspend the talks on and signing of loan and grant agreements with countries that backed the Iceland-led United Nations resolution that sought a review of his anti-drug campaign will not have much impact on the Philippine economy, Malacañang said yesterday.

Quoting Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the suspension would not affect loans or grants already being implemented.

“At the outset, we assure the nation and its citizenry that this directive will not have a negative and significant impact on the country,” Panelo said in a press briefing.

He added that except for three financial offers from France, Germany and Spain, all proposed deals with countries that either co-sponsored or voted in favor of the resolution are technical assistance grants and would not significantly affect the government’s infrastructure program.

France and Germany are sponsors of the resolution but were not among the 18 countries that voted in favor of it. Spain was one of the countries that voted for the adoption of the resolution.

The loan offered by France aims to fund the Metro Manila Bus Rapid Transit project. Panelo said multilateral development financial institutions and other bilateral partners of the Philippines have signified their intention to finance the 21-million euros needed for the project.

“The rates offered by said countries, if ever, are certainly no better than the rates already offered by multilateral development financial institutions as well as bilateral development partners,” the presidential spokesman said.

Also to be affected are a $46.58-million financing offered by Germany and a $200,000 financing offer from Spain.

Eighteen countries – some of them hosts to sizable populations of Filipino workers – voted in favor of an Iceland-led resolution calling for a “comprehensive report” on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the deaths linked to the war on illegal drugs. Fourteen countries objected to the resolution while 15 abstained.

The 18 countries who backed the resolution were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay. Those who opposed were the Philippines, Angola, Bahrain, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Hungary, India, Iraq, Qatar, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, while those who abstained were Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.

Duterte had earlier lambasted Iceland for pushing for the resolution and maintained that he does not endorse extrajudicial killings.

Last month, Malacañang issued a memorandum directing agencies to suspend negotiations for and signing of all loan grant agreements with the governments of countries that co-sponsored and voted in favor of the resolution.

In the memorandum, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the directive was issued due to the administration’s “strong rejection” of the resolution which, he said, was carried through by the votes of a minority of the members of the UN Human Rights Council last July 11. – With Paolo Romero, Pia Lee-Brago, Mary Grace Padin

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