Duterte withdraws EU expel threat
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)