With US military aid in peril, Philippines resumes aid talks with UNHRC resolution backers
Apart from Australia and the UK, the lifting of restrictions allows the Philippines to negiotiate with Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, and Uruguay.
AFP/File
With US military aid in peril, Philippines resumes aid talks with UNHRC resolution backers
Prinz Magtulis (Philstar.com) - March 4, 2020 - 5:15pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration has lifted a ban on aid negotiations between the Philippines and countries that supported a UN Human Rights Council resolution that mandated an examination on the country’s human rights situation.

The latest order effectively allows the Philippines to pursue aid talks with 18 countries, including the UK and Australia, which are among the country’s biggest lenders extending assistance on matters like the peace process in Mindanao as well as military and defense.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told Philstar.com that the latest presidential directive will have “minimal effect” on the country’s borrowing plan, where Japan, which is not a UNHCR resolution signatory, leads in terms of bilateral aid value.

READ: Here's a possible consequence of Philippines' suspension of aid from backers of UN drug war probe

That said, the removal on aid prohibitions came less than a month after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the unilateral abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US, under which the Philippines receives billion of pesos in military aid every year. 

The cancellation of the VFA takes effect in August if not salvaged by either side.

"It is understood, however, that all necessary approvals, authorities and clearances, as required by relevant laws, rules and regulations should first be obtained prior to actual negotiations and conclusion of any agreement," Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said in the latest Palace order.

'Iceland resolution'

In August last year, Medialdea instructed state agencies and companies 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.

The UNHRC last July adopted by an 18-14-15 vote a resolution mandating a "comprehensive" international review of the Duterte government's much-criticized drug war. 

Apart from this, it mandated the Philippines, and UNHCR founder, to observe due process and “prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances."

The Philippines rejected the resolution, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. saying "for those who voted to insult us, the consequences will be far reaching."

Malacañang has repeatedly denied that the "drug war", Duterte’s centerpiece policy, violates human rights.

Apart from Australia and the UK, the lifting of restrictions allows the Philippines to negiotiate with Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

ICELAND RESOLUTION UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
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