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Harmless: Locsin says PH won’t withdraw from UN, cut ties with Iceland

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The Philippines is not withdrawing its membership from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over the recently adopted resolution on the country’s human rights situation, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Monday clarified. Nor is it cutting off its ties with Iceland, the lead proponent of the resolution.

“(The) UNHRC vote is a small and harmless matter; we’re staying in UNHRC as a pedagogical duty to teach Europeans moral manners. We’re not severing diplomatic relations with any country. If we did, where’s the conversation? How do you insult those who insulted us if you cut them off?” he explained.

Responding to a newspaper headline saying he hinted the country may withdraw from the rights body amid its looming inquiry into the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs on Monday night, he said: “I floated and sunk it in the same statement.”

The top diplomat was referring to an earlier post on his Twitter account when he responded to questions whether the Philippines had a foreign post in Reykjavík and if its envoy had made representation regarding the resolution.

“No embassy in Iceland. Nor does Iceland have an embassy here. Iceland took the place of the US after it withdrew from the Human Rights Council. I think we need to follow America more,” Locsin’s July 13 tweet read.

Although the official scored what he described as the “ill-fated resolution” and firmly stated that Manila would not tolerate any form of disrespect, he said the government would retain its UNHRC membership and will continue to work with the body. This, as he cited that the Philippines “must remain true to the cause of human rights.”

Locsin stated the UN text was not the sum total of the Philippines’ relations with Iceland, the resolution’s proponent.

“I never considered for a second cutting any ties over this small matter,” he said in a tweet, when mistakenly tagged as among those who called for the severing of ties with the European nation.

Talks about breaking off diplomatic relation between Manila and Reykjavík floated upon Senator Imee Marcos’ suggestion, who stressed that other states should not impose on other sovereign countries.

Locsin’s view was shared by French Ambassador Nicolas Galey, who, on Sunday, said the text was “not the alpha and omega” of international relations. France is among the non-Council members that supported the resolution.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, on the other hand, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte is “seriously considering cutting diplomatic relations with Iceland”.

“The adopted Iceland resolution is grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow, and maliciously partisan. It reeks of nauseating politics completely devoid of respect for the sovereignty of our country. It is bereft of the gruesome realities of the drug menace in the country,” he said in a statement Monday. (PNA)

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