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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 15, 2019   •   1972

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)

PH bags 4 gold, 3 silver, 3 bronze medals at 2019 World Para Bowling Tour

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 22, 2019

The Philippines won 4 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze at the recent 2019 World Para Bowling Tour held in Manila from November 14 to 20.

The Philippines has bagged a total of 10 medals, placing second to Malaysia that has a total of 26 medals.—AAC

Duterte says he ordered dismissal of 3 cops in body camera extortion case

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 21, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday (November 20) said that he ordered the dismissal of three police officers involved in the body camera extortion case.

The three police officers were allegedly involved in extorting around P5 million from a bidder of body cameras.

“In the police, I—the three majors were working on a body camera and they were arguing because maybe of—because of money. What else? Because of corruption. And so I said, ‘Fire them, dismiss them,'” he said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa identified the police officers as Police Major Emerson Sales, Police Major Rholly Caraggayan and Police Major Angel Beros. 

Gamboa also said that he will sign the dismissal papers by Monday (November 25).—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Palace tells Robredo, Aquino: “Trust is earned”

Robie de Guzman   •   November 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – “Trust is earned.”

This was Malacañang’s response to Vice President Leni Robredo and her ally, former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino after they questioned President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of trust in the vice president despite her appointment as co-chairperson of the inter-agency committee on anti-illegal drugs (ICAD).

In a statement issued on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that Robredo must “understand that one’s election to the Vice Presidency does not automatically clothe the occupant with trustworthiness.”

“Trust is earned. The missteps of the VP did not inspire confidence in the matter of keeping to oneself classified information,” he said.

“Her job in leading the agencies involved in the anti-illegal drug campaign requires competence and creativity. Trust comes into play only as regards the non-transmission of state secrets that imperils the safety of the Filipino people and the sovereignty of the country,” he added.

Panelo also said that the president’s expressed remark should not stop Robredo from performing her new task.

“Since she will not be given access to privileged communication, she should not be bothered by the expressed lack of trust by the appointing power with respect to the confidentiality of state matters requiring secrecy,” he said.

“After all, she is tasked to help end the illegal drug trade in the country and not to get secret information of the government to share the same with her foreign and local peers,” he added.

The Palace official also reiterated that despite her being a member of a political opposition group, she was still given the job to co-lead the government anti-drug body to help address the country’s drug problem instead of “endlessly voicing criticisms.”

“Her designation is a call of duty coming from the Chief Executive to end the illegal drug trade in the country, a rare chance given to her, despite her being in the opposition, to help in the campaign against illegal drugs, instead of being a rambunctious critic who cannot see anything good on the war on drugs initiated by this administration,” he said.

Panelo also asked Aquino to focus on his case still pending before the Sandiganbayan, as well as taking care of his health, instead of “touching on a matter related to the dreaded drug menace that he never gave the attention and importance it deserves during his six-year presidency.”

The Palace official earlier claimed that the country’s drug problem “ballooned in magnitude” due to neglect during Aquino’s presidency. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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