Duterte with­draws EU ex­pel threat

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By GENALYN D. KABILING

Am­bas­sadors from the Euro­pean Union (EU) won’t be ex­pelled af­ter all. Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Ernesto Abella clar­i­fied that there was no longer a di­rec­tive for the EU en­voys to leave the coun­try. He is­sued the clar­i­fi­ca­tion af­ter the EU Del­e­ga­tion in the Philip­pines clar­i­fied that it had noth­ing to do with a seven-mem­ber in­ter­na­tional group that re­cently vis­ited the coun­try.

Abella ex­plained that the Pres­i­dent’s threat to ex­pel the EU am­bas­sadors was in re­sponse to a state­ment of the for­eign del­e­ga­tion protest­ing the drug killings un­der Duterte’s watch.

The seven-mem­ber group In­ter­na­tional Del­e­gates of Pro­gres­sive Al­liance falsely por­trayed it­self as an of­fi­cial EU mis­sion,

ac­cord­ing to Abella.

“The Euro­pean Del­e­ga­tion yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) is­sued a clar­i­fi­ca­tion that… it cleared the air, in other words, that the seven-man team was not the EU it­self,” he said dur­ing a Palace news con­fer­ence.

“The Euro­pean Union was not part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion or plan­ning of that visit – nei­ther the Del­e­ga­tion of the Euro­pean Union in the Philip­pines nor the Euro­pean Union in­sti­tu­tions in Brus­sels,” the EU Del­e­ga­tion ex­plained Thurs­day.

That seven-mem­ber group, the EU pointed out, “was not Euro­pean Union mis­sion as falsely re­ported by some me­dia out­lets.”

“The state­ments made by the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance dur­ing its visit to the Philip­pines were made solely on be­half of the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance and do not rep­re­sent the po­si­tion of the Euro­pean Union,” the EU Mis­sion said.

Asked if the EU am­bas­sadors should still leave the coun­try now fol­low­ing the clar­i­fi­ca­tion, Abella said: “There is no di­rec­tive to do that.”

In a fiery pro­fan­ity-laced speech last Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Duterte ac­cused the EU of al­legedly plot­ting the Philip­pines ex­pul­sion from the world body. Duterte also threat­ened to ex­pel the EU am­bas­sadors within 24 hours amid al­le­ga­tions the bloc was in­ter­fer­ing with do­mes­tic af­fairs.

Prior to the Pres­i­dent’s re­marks, the EU had not is­sued a state­ment seek­ing the coun­try’s re­moval from the UN. It was ac­tu­ally the Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW) that warned the coun­try might lose its mem­ber­ship from the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil (UNHRC) if the rights abuses linked to the drug war are not stopped.

With the clar­i­fi­ca­tion, Mala­cañang shifted its tirade from the EU to the HRW.

Abella slammed the “self­styled hu­man rights watch­dog” for its crit­i­cisms on the govern­ment, dis­miss­ing its warn­ing about the coun­try’s UN mem­ber­ship as “un­war­ranted nui­sance.”

“The Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW), a self-styled HR watch­dog, has ac­cused the Philip­pines of vi­o­lat­ing its mem­ber­ship obli­ga­tions and threat­ens to call for the Philip­pines to be delisted from the UNHRC,” Abella said in a state­ment.

“The only ba­sis for sus­pen­sion of priv­i­leges of mem­bers of the UNHRC is for the con­cerned mem­ber to have com­mit­ted “gross and sys­tem­atic vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights,” he added.

Abella claimed that any sus­pen­sion of a mem­ber is de­cided upon by the UNHRC by a 2/3 vote of the mem­bers of the UN Gen­eral As­sem­bly (UNGA) present and vot­ing.

“This is what is said in para­graph 8 of A/Res/251, the UNGA res­o­lu­tion that es­tab­lished the UNHRC,” he said.

Abella like­wise shrugged off any pos­si­bil­ity of the coun­try’s re­moval from the UNHRC, cit­ing its re­cent adop­tion of the coun­try’s re­port on hu­man rights record.

“The UNHRC unan­i­mously ac­cepted and com­mended the Out­come Re­port on the Philip­pines’ Uni­ver­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­view (UPR) – a de­ci­sion un­der­mined by HRW,” he said.

“Thus, the noise from HRW amounts to noth­ing more than un­war­ranted nui­sance,” he added.

Asked if the Pres­i­dent was mis­in­formed or mis­led by the in­for­ma­tion about the EU, Abella said the Pres­i­dent was merely re­act­ing to a news­pa­per re­port about the vis­it­ing for­eign del­e­ga­tion.

“So ba­si­cally, it’s a les­son for us also to – for the need for crit­i­cal re­port­ing and – and read­ing of the news,” he said.

“The Pres­i­dent re­acted as any leader would when na­tional sovereignty is vi­o­lated. So, we call upon the… also for the me­dia to heed his re­quest too for cor­rect reportage,” he added.

He said In­ter­na­tional Del­e­gates of Pro­gres­sive Al­liance’s “ir­re­spon­si­ble” state­ments protest­ing the al­leged killings un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion “de­mean our sta­tus as a sov­er­eign na­tion.” “The call of the Pres­i­dent for EU am­bas­sadors to leave the coun­try in 24 hours must be taken in this light,” he added.

He said the Pres­i­dent has tol­er­ated such in­ter­fer­ences in lo­cal af­fairs “for so long.” Duterte, how­ever, has de­cided that th­ese must stop “if only to pre­serve the in­tegrity and dig­nity of our State as a sov­er­eign na­tion,” ac­cord­ing to Abella.

“Any group or per­son who un­duly in­ter­feres in our do­mes­tic af­fairs de­means our sta­tus as a sov­er­eign na­tion. For as long as this con­di­tion re­mains, the Pres­i­dent is duty-bound to pre­serve the in­tegrity of the State,” Abella said.

The govern­ment, mean­time, is ex­pected to make a for­mal clar­i­fi­ca­tion to the EU com­mu­nity about the Pres­i­dent’s re­cent re­marks.

“I’m sure th­ese things are be­ing clar­i­fied di­rectly to per­sons con­cerned,” Abella said.

“I sup­pose those things will be done as needed, okay, but con­ver­sa­tions go between agen­cies and our part­ner na­tions,” he added.

DE LIMA AR­RAIGNED – Sen. Leila de Lima, de­tained on drug charges, ar­rives at a court in Muntinlupa City for her ar­raign­ment Fri­day. (Czar Dancel)

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