Duterte mulls cutting ties with rights critic Iceland

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2019 04:11 PM | Updated as of Jul 16 2019 03:29 PM

MANILA (2ND UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte is “seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations” with Iceland after the country called for a comprehensive report on the Philippines’ human rights situation, his spokesperson said Monday.

“The adopted Iceland resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan... It is bereft of the gruesome realities of the drug menace in the country," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said during an event with radio DZRH.

Panelo added the Philippines has almost no existing ties with Iceland.

“Ano ba'ng relasyon natin sa Iceland in the first place? Halos wala naman tayo... Ni wala nga tayong embassy doon eh, wala rin sila dito,” he said.

(What is our relationship with Iceland in the first place? Almost none. We don't even have an embassy there, they also don't have an embassy here.)

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week adopted an Iceland-backed resolution that called for a report on Manila’s human rights situation, including extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s drug war.

The Philippines has rejected the resolution which was approved by 18 countries. A total of 14 countries voted no, while 15 abstained. 

Duterte earlier slammed Iceland over its actions, saying that the European country simply does not understand the problems faced by the Philippines.

“Anong problema ng Iceland? Ice lang. (What is the problem of Iceland? It’s just ice.) That's your problem, you have too much ice, and there is no clear day or night there... You can understand no crime, there is no policeman either and they just go about eating ice,” he said in a speech last Friday.

“Itong mga g*go, you don’t understand the social, economic, political problems of the Philippines.”

Panelo also said the Philippines should take a serious look at its relationship with other countries that supported the Iceland-initiated resolution.

Other countries that approved the resolution were Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom including Northern Ireland, and Uruguay.

“As Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin said that is a consideration on the table,” Panelo said.

Panelo insisted that countries concerned with Manila’s human rights situation should have simply clarified the situation with the Philippine government.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Tuesday said the Philippines will remain in the United Nations Human Rights Council even after it voted voted to adopt the Iceland-backed resolution.

Locsin, in a Twitter post, said the UNHRC vote was "a small and harmless matter" and that the Philippines will not be severing relations with any country.

"We're staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners. 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.

--With a report from Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News