PH mulls severing ties with Iceland, 17 other nations – Malacañang

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   1850

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is mulling over the possibility of cutting ties with Iceland and 17 other nations that voted in favor of a resolution calling on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to conduct a comprehensive review on the human rights situation in the Philippines amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, Malacañang said Monday (July 15).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said they will take a serious look into the country’s diplomatic relationship with other nations, adding that Iceland and other nations’ move can be considered as interference in the Philippines’ domestic affairs.

On July 11 (Thursday), 18 of the 47-member of the UNHRC voted to adopt the resolution filed by Iceland, tasking the UN Human Rights Office to prepare a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights situation amid its ongoing anti-drug campaign.

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

“’Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty ay kailangang talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila kung wala silang gagawin kundi siraan tayo ng siraan sa mga kalakaran na di naman batay sa tunay na pangyayari dito sa ating bayan,” Panelo told reporters in a press briefing.

(If a country is making declarations that are affront to our independence or sovereignty, if they continue to do or say negative things that are not based on facts or occurrences in our country, then we need to sever our ties with them.)

However, Panelo said that Duterte will have the final say on the matter, as well as on calls for the Philippines to withdraw its membership from the UNHRC.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

“In the ultimate analysis, he is the chief architect of foreign policy. Then, it’s the call of the President,” he said.

The palace official assured that they will also factor in every aspect, including the welfare of Filipinos living and working in the mentioned 18 countries, and circumstances that could lead to the cutting of ties.

The UN resolution asked the Philippine government to cooperate with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights, including preventing and refraining from all acts of intimidation of retaliations on human rights defenders.

The resolution also urged the Philippine government to take up measures against extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, conduct impartial investigations of human rights violations and hold those involved accountable.

With the adoption of the Iceland-led resolution, UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet was tasked to prepare a report on the Philippines human rights situation by June 2020.

Although the Duterte administration does not consider the resolution a legally-binding document, Panelo said the government is willing to respond to the UN council’s formal questions or communication about Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.

“They have to believe what this government tells them, because this government does not lie,” Panelo said.

However, he stressed that the government will not oblige if the questions are designed to “embarrass” the Duterte administration. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO/FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on Filipinos to reflect on the history and be everyday heroes as the country marks the National Heroes’ Day.

In his message, Duterte urged Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

“The collective sacrifice of the country’s heroes “made it possible for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty and to continue strengthening this great nation that they have left behind,” he said.

“We recognize their heroism not only by erecting statues in their honor but by uplifting the welfare of the poor and marginalized for it is through our small deeds that their spirit of valor can live on,” he added.

The President also called on Filipinos to make our forebears proud of the triumphs as a people “by being everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.”

“I truly believe that every Filipino is a hero who can build on our vibrant legacy of fortitude and resilience,” he said.

“As we face the future together, I encourage everyone to embody solidarity and sustain our momentum towards positive change not only for ourselves, but for the succeeding generations as well,” he added.

The chief executive skipped the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday as he is “not feeling well,” according to Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

He, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the president in leading the National Heroes’ Day rites, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

‘Indisposed’ Duterte skips National Heroes’ Day celebration

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

(R-L) President Rodrigo Duterte, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

According to Duterte’s former long-time aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the president was feeling out of sorts after studying and signing many documents and meeting with different personalities, including Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari over the weekend.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte did notattend the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday.

“He’s indisposed, 74 years old na po si Pangulo, kailangan niya ring magpahinga… Magkasama pa kaming kaninang madaling araw, mga four ng umaga,” Go told reporters.

(He’s indisposed. The President is already 74 years old, he needs rest. We were together until early this morning, around 4 a.m.)

Go, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

Malacañang earlier said House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the chief executive at the National Heroes’ Day rites.

The Palace also said that by Monday afternoon, the president is set to visit the family of a soldier killed in a clash in Calbayog City, Samar.

Duterte earlier called on Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

READ: Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

He also urged the public to be “everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.” (RRD with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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