‘Why reject aid from long-standing allies but accept loans from China?’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros has questioned Malacañang’s decision to suspend aid from 18 countries that supported a call for a probe into the human rights situation in the country but accepts grants and loans from China.
“Why do we reject projects and aid from countries that have been our long-standing allies and are simply asking us to comply with human rights standards, but continue to accept loans from the Chinese government that constantly enters our territories without our consent and has bullied our fisherfolk in the region?” Hontiveros pointed out in a statement on Monday.
A confidential Malacañang memorandum dated August 27 has directed government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and government financial institutions to suspend negotiations and grant agreements with the 18 countries that voted in favor of the Iceland resolution, which called for a UN inquiry into the human rights situation in the Philippines, including the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo initially denied President Rodrigo Duterte issued the memorandum but later on clarified the memorandum on loan suspension was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the President’s order.
Hontiveros said the memorandum was “obviously a retaliation for the criticisms that these countries aired of the human rights situation in the country, and it was made at the expense of the Filipino people.”
“The rejection of loans and projects from these countries harms the Filipino people in very real terms. How many thousands of people could benefit from these development assistance programs and other grants? How many jobs could be created by these infrastructure loans?” Hontiveros added.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote on the Iceland resolution was 18 affirmative, 14 negative, and 15 abstentions.
The 18 countries that voted in the affirmative were Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Iceland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Uruguay. /kga
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