MANILA (UPDATE) — Lawmakers slammed President Rodrigo Duterte's purported order to reject negotiations of loans and grants from countries which backed a UN resolution, led by Iceland, seeking a comprehensive report on the Philippines' drug war.
"If the Administration has nothing to hide why is it so against an investigation? The country is digging itself into a deeper hole by this retaliation. If it thinks this will make these nations change their minds, then it is in for a big surprise," Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said in a statement Saturday.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman added: "This false pride of the Duterte administration foisted to block the (United Nations Human Rights Council) probe may ostracize the Philippines from concessional foreign finance and would conveniently justify the country’s availment of Chinese loans with much higher interest rates and shorter grace periods."
Sen. Leila de Lima, one of Duterte's staunchest critics, said the President "prioritizes his own personal interests over and above that of the nation."
"It is clearly shown in his new move to refuse grants and aid from member-countries of the UNHRC that voted for an inquiry on his murderous drug war and other anti-human rights policies," she said.
According to a Reuters report on Friday, a document, dated Aug. 27 and signed by Duterte's Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, revealed that all agencies and state companies should suspend negotiations or agreements "pending the assessment of our relations with these countries."
Malacañang, however, denied this, saying Duterte has not issued such memorandum.
"The President has not issued any memorandum suspending loans and negotiations involving 18 countries that voted in favor of the Iceland resolution," Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
With 18 countries in favor, the UNHRC approved a resolution last July to compile a sweeping review on Duterte's drug war, which led to the deaths of 6,700 people, in what police say were shootouts with dealers who resisted arrest.
- With a report from Reuters