MANILA The government is open to cutting ties with Iceland, a Palace official said Monday after the Nordic Island-country sponsored a resolution approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to look into the human rights violations in the Philippines
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Senator Imee Marcos urged the government to cut ties with Iceland, stressing that other countries cannot presume to know better on how to enforce the Philippines' own laws.
Pag ang isang bansa ay nagpapahayag ng mga posisyon na makakasira sa ating kasarinlan o sovereignty, kailangan talagang putulin natin ang relasyon natin sa kanila (If a country is making statements that may damage our sovereignty, there is a need to cut ties with them), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo, however, clarified that this was only his own opinion on the matter and he would leave the final decision to President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
Hayaan natin ang Pangulo ng bansa na magbigay ng pang-tapos na posisyon dito sapagkat (Let us leave it to the President to make the final position on the matter because) he is the chief architect of foreign policy in our country, said Panelo who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
They (Locsin and Duterte) will have to factor in every circumstance that could lead to the cutting of ties, he added.
Panelo said although cutting ties with Iceland would barely affect Filipino workers there, the government will consider all factors in deciding whether or not to proceed with the proposal.
How will it affect us? Ano bang relasyon natin sa (What relation do we have with) Iceland in the first place? Ni wala tayong embassy doon e. Wala rin sila dito e (We don't have an embassy there. They don't have an embassy here either), Panelo said.
Gaano ba karami (How many Filipinos are working and living there)? All of that are taken into consideration. What is the best interest of the country, we will pursue, he added.
Not a UN vote
Asked if government should also consider cutting ties with the 18 UN-member countries who supported Iceland's proposal, Panelo said it is worth taking a serious look in the Philippines' relationship with them.
Maybe we should take a serious look in our relationship with them. For all we know, they may be the ones taking a second look given the brouhaha that brought about this vote, Panelo said.
Panelo said he does not consider the resolution a UN resolution since there was no simple majority in the voting results.
Out of the UN body's 47 members, 18 countries supported Iceland's proposal, 14 countries including the Philippines voted against it, while the remaining 15 abstained.
There was no simple majority here. It's in fact an overwhelming rejection because only 18 votes as against gets 14 votes denying the resolution and 15 of them did not register a yes vote which means these 15 are not inclined to make a definite stand in relation to that resolution, Panelo said.
Ibig sabihin (It means), it's not a UN vote, he added.
Ask, don't prejudge
Panelo said if the UN body is really serious in looking into the country's campaign against illegal drugs, they should have first written a formal communication or inquiry asking for government data.
Pero hindi nila ginagawa 'yon. Hinayaan nilang makinig sa mga kasinungalingang nakakarating sa kanila sa mga walang batayang pahayag ng mga kalaban ng administration (But they didn't do that. They allowed themselves to listen to the baseless lies made by enemies of this administration), he added.
He emphasized that the Duterte administration is the only administration that has always responded to formal communications sent to their offices.
Lahat ng nangyayari diyan sa digmaan laban sa droga ay nakatala, recorded lahat yan e (Everything happening in the war on drugs is recorded). All they have to do is to ask us, not to prejudge us, Panelo said.
They have to believe what this government tells them because this government doesn't lie. It behooves them to render respect to a sovereign state, he added.
Despite willingness to provide the UN body with answers, Panelo said it is still discretionary on the part of a sovereign government to respond or not to any question relative to anything concerning state affairs.
If we feel that the question is legitimate, we will respond but if the question is only designed to fish information that it will use by the inquiring country to embarrass this government, certainly, we will not oblige, Panelo said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency