'A question of sovereignty': Cayetano backs Duterte order to shun loans from backers of UN drug war probe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2019 05:39 PM

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary turned House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano supported Monday President Duterte’s decision to bar the Philippines from pursuing loans with countries that backed a United Nations Human Rights Commission resolution condemning the Philippines' bloody war on drugs.

"From the start, the President said: 'If you want to interfere in our local affairs and gusto niyong diktahan kami, hindi mo pwedeng mapresyuhan ang sovereignty,'" Cayetano said. 

The Speaker said the Palace order will have a minimal effect on the country's finances. 

"Pagdating sa loans, major source ng loans (ay) private sector, bangko dito sa Pilipinas at abroad, mga bonds, concessional loans, Japan, China, Korea konti sa Australia but minimal kung merong epekto. This is a question of sovereignty, na di niyo pwede bilhin ang sovereignty," he said. 

With 18 countries in favor, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution in July to compile a comprehensive report on Duterte's three-year crackdown, during which at least 6,700 people have been killed in what police say were shootouts with drug dealers who resisted arrest.

A document seen by Reuters, dated Aug. 27 and signed by Duterte's Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, said all agencies and state companies should suspend negotiations or agreements "pending the assessment of our relations with these countries".

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said last week that President Duterte "has not issued any memorandum suspending loans and negotiations" involving 18 member-countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council. He backtracked on Monday, saying the President might have forgotten about the order. 

He said that of the 18 countries, only the UK has an existing loan arrangement with Manila amounting to 21 million euros that "will not affect our economy."

Cayetano, meanwhile, said foreign aid from European countries "come with strings attached."

"Sinasabi lang ni Presidente: 'Thank you or no thank you,'" he said. 

For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the President's decision could jeopardize almost half a billion dollars’ worth of financing from countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Austria "and some countries from the European Union including Spain’s first official development assistance (ODA) which is already in the pipeline."

"This false pride of the Duterte administration foisted to block the UNHRC 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," he said. With Reuters and RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News