Duterte brushes off Iceland

Mulls over cutting diplomatic ties in wake of anti-drug war ‘reso’

President Rodrigo Duterte is “seriously considering” cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland after it spearheaded a UN resolution to probe his deadly drug war, the Palace said late Monday.

Duterte brushes off Iceland
NO EXIT. While President Rodrigo, arriving at the Jolo Airport in Mindanao Tuesday, mulls cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland (population 340,661)—whose land area is a little bigger than Mindanao (inset)—after it spearheaded a UN resolution to probe the administration’s deadly drug campaign, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. clarified Manila will not withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council or cut diplomatic links with Reykjavik. Malacañang Photo
The comments from Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo came in response to the UN Human Rights Council last week backing the Iceland-proposed resolution to review the killings.

“The adopted Iceland resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan,” Panelo said.

Duterte launched the anti-drug crackdown in 2016, and since then police say they have killed over 5,300 drug suspects. However, human rights groups say the true toll is four times that number.

The UN review comes in addition to a preliminary examination already launched by war crimes prosecutors from the International Criminal Court, which the Philippines left earlier this year.

Panelo attacked the UN resolution saying it “demonstrates how the Western powers are scornful of our sovereign exercise of protecting our people.”

The government frequently paints international criticism as a violation of sovereignty, but watchdogs counter by saying an impartial local review is nearly impossible while Duterte is in power.

Last week, Amnesty International released a report alleging the killing is “systematic” and police face very little, if any, scrutiny over the nightly slayings.

READ: Rody slams Iceland, UN reso

Duterte has already publicly mocked Iceland over UN vote.

“Iceland, what is Iceland’s problem? Just ice. That’s your problem. You have too much ice,” Duterte said Friday.

“These idiots, they don’t understand the social, economic, political problems of the Philippines.”

While the Philippines and Iceland have diplomatic ties, they do not have embassies in each other’s country, said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

Economic ties include Icelandic investment in geothermal energy in the Philippines and Filipinos working as office and factory workers and nurses in Iceland.

Locsin had said the country could withdraw from the UN rights council over the vote but later said it would not do so.

Following Monday’s announcement, the Palace on Tuesday said cutting ties with Iceland would have a minimal impact on the Philippines.

“We’ve been having trade relations with other countries. So I don’t think cutting our relationship with one country will affect us,” Panelo said.

“As far as we know, there are no trade relations between these two countries except on fish,” he added.

Panelo also dismissed fears that the Filipinos in Iceland will be deported if the country will cut its diplomatic ties with the European country.

There are about 2,000 Filipinos in Iceland who are working as nurses and office and factory workers, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

READ: UN flummoxed by PH reaction

Panelo also said the investments between the two countries will remain safe.

Iceland’s investments in the country include the Biliran Geothermal, Inc., a joint venture between the Filtech Energy Drilling Corp. and the ORKA Energy Philippines.

ORKA Energy of Iceland, a geothermal development company, has equity in the investment.

The possibility of cutting ties with Iceland was raised by the Palace in a statement issued Monday, after the UNHRC approved the Iceland-led resolution calling for a report on alleged human rights violations in the Philippine campaign against illegal drugs.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III also said the country can withdrew from the UNHRC.

Locsin, who first raised the possibility of leaving the UN agency, said the Philippines would not leave after all.

“UNHRC vote is a small and harmless matter; we’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners,” Locsin said on Twitter.

READ: Lacson junks UN meddling

“We’re NOT severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where’s the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?” he said.

On at least three occasions since 2017, Iceland has led calls for an independent body to probe drug-related killings in the Philippines.

Panelo, in the press briefing, said that if a foreign country has any concern about human rights violations, it should communicate with the Philippine government “as a matter of courtesy and civility.”

Locsin said cutting ties with Iceland would be “a vacuous gesture” because neither country even had an embassy in the other.

During the UNHRC’s 41st session in Geneva last week, a total of 18 countries voted in favor of adopting the Iceland-led resolution, 14 countries voted against and 15 abstained. With AFP

READ: Iceland ‘reso’ triggers calls for PH to leave UNHRC

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , drug war , Salvador Panelo , UN Human Rights Council
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