Lorenzana: P30-B Aussie loan ‘good case’ of exclusion from Duterte memo
MANILA, Philippines — A P30-billion loan from Australia for the construction of six patrol offshore patrol vessels is in danger of being called off due to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to suspend loans from countries that supported a call to have his drug war campaign investigated by the United Nations.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told a Senate budget hearing on Monday that he is set to request an exemption from the President’s order for the possible Australian deal.
“I would like to make it clear now that we would like to make an exception for Australia,” he said.
The defense department is currently in talks with the Australian government for the building of six offshore patrol vessels for the Philippine Navy through a soft loan.
“They are willing to finance it and we’ll pay it in a span of many years,” Lorenzana said. Only 10 percent of the entire amount of the project is required as an initial payment.
Shipbuilder Austal, which has a shipyard in Cebu, will help many Filipinos working there, he said.
“I think it’s a very good case to be exempted from the memo of the President,” the defense chief added.
Under the memo issued last August 27, all departments and government agencies will stop negotiations and agreements on grants and loans from the countries that voted in favor of the Iceland-led resolution that called for a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines – including Duterte’s bloody war on illegal drugs, which the UN Human Rights Council adopted in July.
The 18 countries that supported the resolution 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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