Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Tuesday, September 24, said President Rodrigo Duterte will evaluate his directive suspending aid agreements with countries in favor of the Iceland-led resolution seeking a probe into the Philippines’ war on illegal drugs.
This is after the defense department made an appeal to exempt military deals from Duterte’s memorandum.
“The president is a very reasonable man. If it involves national security, he might. I do not know yet, we have to wait for his thoughts on the matter,” said Panelo at a press briefing.
“We will wait for the… evaluation of the secretary of national defense… I’m certain the president will evaluate it,” he added.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Tuesday, September 24, pointed out that Duterte’s order does not cover buying of key defense equipment from any particular state, as it is only for grants and loans.
He maintained that the defense department will abide by the president’s order but said he will request for an exemption for loans pertaining to defense contracts.
“We are going to request for an exemption because we really need to transact business with other countries,” Lorenzana said at a forum of the Association for Philippine-China Understanding in Mandaluyong City.
“We are now in the process of talking with the Australians about the building of our six offshore patrol vessels. We’re going to buy that. I will talk again with the higher ups on how we can go around the directive of the president. But we will follow the directive,” he added.
In July, Iceland filed a resolution calling on rights chief Michelle Bachelet to investigate the human rights situation and prepare a comprehensive report to be presented before the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The 18 countries who voted favorably for the resolution calling for a “comprehensive report” on the human rights situation in the Philippines were Argentina, Australia, Austria Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
The 14 countries who opposed were Angola, Bahrain, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Hungary, India, Iraq, Qatar, the Philippines, Somalia and Saudi Arabia, while the 15 others that abstained from voting were Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.
In light of the administrations’ strong rejection of the resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Malacañang issued last August 27 the 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.