Panelo backtracks, confirms Palace memo suspending deals with nations backing probe on drug war deaths

By: Darryl John Esguerra - INQUIRER.net - Inquirer.net | September 23,2019 - 12:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Monday confirmed the existence of a confidential memorandum terminating all financial assistance from the 18 countries that voted to approve a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution calling for an investigation on the Philippines’ drug war killings.

“A memo was issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the matter,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel.

But on Friday, when the media reported the existence of the memorandum dated Aug. 27, Panelo denied President Rodrigo Duterte issued the order.

Panelo, who is also Duterte’s legal counsel, said that he had talked to the President where he denied issuing the memorandum.

READ: Palace: No Duterte order suspending loans, grants from 18 countries backing PH killings probe

Asked to explain his initial denial, Panelo claimed that the President might have “forgotten momentarily” that he instructed Medialdea to come up with a memorandum rejecting loans and grants from countries that have supported a UN probe into the drug war.

“I instructed him to do that in the height of the Iceland resolution,” Panelo said, supposedly quoting Duterte as saying.

The ban on loans, aid, grants from these countries would stay “pending the assessment of our relations with these countries” and would remain in effect until lifted by the Office of the President, the memo noted.

READ: Duterte order shuns all loans, grants, aid from 18 countries backing probe of PH killings

With a vote of 18 affirmative, 14 negative and 15 abstentions, the Iceland-proposed resolution was adopted by the UNHRC.

The 18 countries that backed the resolution were Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Peru, Mexico, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom including Northern Ireland and Uruguay. /gsg

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